Cel­e­brat­ing decade with Ahuriri’s sushi

Napier Courier - - News - BY BRENDA VOWDEN [email protected]

Ao­zora means blue sky in Ja­panese, which is why Satomi and Keizo Yamaguchi named their tiny sushi shop in Ahuriri just that.

“It’s named af­ter Hawke’s Bay’s beau­ti­ful blue skies,” Satomi says.

The Ya­m­aguchis are cel­e­brat­ing 10 years in their Bridge St shop this month, of­fer­ing cus­tomers a lucky dip and per­haps a win Satomi says.

“We would love to show our ap­pre­ci­a­tion to the peo­ple who have sup­ported us for so long. Ev­ery­body gets at least one of our Ja­panese snacks, drinks, miso soup or dis­count vouch­ers — and there is one big win­ner who gets a Ja­panese mas­ter sushi chef at home.”

With enough sup­port, they are hop­ing this prize may launch a new in­ter­ac­tive healthy food busi­ness in Hawke’s Bay. The cou­ple is used to dream­ing big and work­ing hard. They left a life in Amer­ica — Satomi a tour guide in the Rocky Moun­tains and Keizo an en­gi­neer — to ful­fil a dream of open­ing a sushi shop in a for­eign coun­try — “to serve real au­then­tic sushi for the lo­cals”.

Keizo trained at the Three Gen­er­a­tions sushi restau­rant in Ja­pan for 15 years, with both him and Satomi pass­ing the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment chef’s li­cence. He is the only sushi chef in Hawke’s Bay hold­ing the li­cence, Satomi says.

Ev­ery­thing is made on the day by hand in store, with fresh in­gre­di­ents in­clud­ing free-range eggs, or­ganic veg­eta­bles and salmon shipped in overnight from Akaroa. Satomi says chil­dren of­ten come in on their way to sports prac­tice and a gold coin can still be ex­changed for a snack.

“We ac­com­mo­date our cus­tomers — it’s our plea­sure. We care about them like our own fam­ily. “I suf­fered breast can­cer soon af­ter open­ing our shop — so many peo­ple helped us to raise our chil­dren. We have no rel­a­tives in New Zealand and we didn’t know any­one when we came here.” Their son is now a univer­sity stu­dent and daugh­ter at­tends Napier Girls High School.

“Both are help­ing many in­ter­na­tional stu­dents with their bilin­gual skills to re­turn their ap­pre­ci­a­tion. No mat­ter what hap­pens and how hard life some­times is, there is still hope and some­one around you who is kind.” Satomi says many of their reg­u­lar cus­tomers have be­come friends over the years.

“Ev­ery­body knows ev­ery­body — it’s such a small place.”

■ Ao­zora, 87 Bridge St, Ahuriri, phone 835 1661. Hol­i­day open­ing hours, Mon­day De­cem­ber 17 to Sun­day, De­cem­ber 23; Thurs­day, De­cem­ber, 27 to Satur­day, De­cem­ber 29.

Ao­zora sushi shop own­ers Satomi and Keizo Yamaguchi are cel­e­brat­ing 10 years in their Ahuriri shop.

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