Just a couple decades ago, Sushi was considered exotic fare. Now, with restaurants on every other corner and sushi available at Safeway delis, the Japanese delicacy has lost its lure.
There isn’t much to get excited about when a new sushi joint opens up, which is what makes Aniki’s Sushi and Sake Bar something to truly write about.
Located at 3810 Mowry Ave. in the Fremont Plaza, the new establishment offers an awe-inspiring menu filled with unique creations that redefine the sushi experience.
“You always gotta give people something they won’t expect,” co-owner Robert Arquero said.
Take, for example, the Sookie’s So So Fresh Roll, a refreshing mix of tuna, salmon, hamachi and avocado wrapped in fresh cucumber instead of rice. Or the Aniki’s Double Delight — shrimp and asparagus tempura wrapped in kobe beef with caramelized onions. Or the complimentary Spicy Crunch Crab Salad, which they serve every patron instead of the standard miso soup and basic salad other restaurants give you. Even their edamame is spiced up, literally, served with a thick coating of garlic and pepper.
You get the idea: they do things differently at Aniki’s, which isn’t surprising considering the owners’ histories.
Aniki’s (aniki means “brother” in Japanese) is a merging of entrepreneurial minds. While they aren’t chefs, co-owners Arquero and Newark native Abdul Momeni have a track record for success, with Momeni running Precision Cutz hair salon in San Jose and Arquero helming Inkies Tattoo Studio, a wildly popular Fremont tattoo shop that includes everyone from NFL players to local police officers among their clientele.
The two wanted to open a business together and chose the restaurant because they often found themselves meeting over sushi, they said.
“The standard of business and quality of service is the same as Inkies,” Arquero said about the restaurant.
“Both businesses are family oriented, so we made sure that carried on here,” Aniki’s manager Carlos Ramirez, also a Newark native, said.
The restaurant held a soft opening Sept. 21 and will celebrate its grand opening this Thursday. Though they haven’t made their official debut, they’ve already attracted a number of regular customers and have seen steady traffic thanks in part to the owners’ expansive followings in the local communities, Arquero said.
Part of the restaurant’s appeal is that it boasts an inviting, stylish décor and a laidback ambiance.
Setting up shop in what was previously Miso Japanese Restaurant, Arquero and Momeni invested about $70,000 in remodeling, handling much of the work themselves. The end result is a comfortable, cool dining experience that’s accentuated by a friendly staff and a bed of 90s R&B and hip-hop.
The main highlight, of course, is the menu.
“It’s traditional with a modern twist,” Arquero said. “We give you something you’ve never seen before.”
Head chef Leo Oh creates a variety of unique concoctions for the restaurant. A side chef for 15 years, Oh now has the opportunity to shine as the head chef. Ramirez tracked down the chef, who previously worked at various restaurants in the area, and gave Oh free rein to create the vast menu, which also includes fresh sashimi delivered from local distributors as well as more traditional items.
Momeni said they interviewed several chefs but was blown away when he tried Oh’s dishes. “I’d never had beef prepared as a sushi roll,” Momeni said of what is now the Aniki’s Double Delight.
If the food isn’t enough, Aniki’s doubles as a sake bar. Their shelves are stacked with 15 varieties of the Japanese rice liquor, including a coconut sake and a sparkling variety (think 7-Up with a creeping kick). The bar also serves a variety of sake and Korean soju cocktails, including a Sake Sangria.
Arquero and Momeni hope their joint venture restaurant is as successful as their previous endeavors. And though they don’t even have their proper menus printed, they’ve already got their eyes on expanding their reach beyond Fremont.
“Our hope is just to kill it and be the premiere sushi restaurant in the Bay,” Arquero said, adding that he has plans to open more locations in San Jose and throughout the region.
“We don’t have any limits,” he said.
Aniki’s Sushi is located at 3810 Mowry Ave. in Fremont.
The restaurant is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m; and Sunday from 1 to 9 p.m. Aniki’s is closed on Mondays.
For more information, visit Aniki’s Sushi and Sake Bar on Facebook.