ON A ROLL: Jin Young Choi and Sung Ho Kim show off their sushi.
ON A ROLL: Jin Young Choi and Sung Ho Kim show off their sushi. DEIRDRE SMITH

Sushi hits Stanthorpe

RAMEN, the soup that is just as popular in Japan as sushi, is made from long-simmered pork stock and then might be served with an egg or tofu or a piece of meat. And lots of noodles.

But chef, Ho Kim from the newly opened Hanasaku in Davadi Street was a bit perplexed. Didn't Australians like noodles? They were enthusiastically ordering the dish but seeming not to eat the noodles. A friend pointed out that maybe it was just too large for them. Ramen is soup but it's also a soup meal.

Educating people about Japanese food is part of his goal and his staff are happy to run through any questions about katsu or don with customers. The first is a cutlet like weiner schnitzel while the second is a bowl including rice together with a main dish rather than served separately.

While Ho and his partner, Jin Young Choi hail from Pusan, the second city of Korea, he trained as a cook in Osaka, a food-loving city widely regarded as the "restaurant of Japan”.

Hanasaku's name means "flower blossom” in Japanese and the logo incorporates a flower fluttering over Quart Pot Creek. Young says she chose the name especially for the town and was inspired by "the Stanthorpe feeling of spring”."The many flower blossoms here are very beautiful.,” she said.

Ho worked in agriculture in Stanthorpe five years ago and liked it so much that he returned 18 months ago and worked for various restaurants around town before the pair spent a laborious six months renovating an empty space in a former bakery and setting it up as their own place.

The first-time restaurant owners are "very excited, very happy” and want customers to know that there is more to Japanese food than sushi. While they have all the popular dishes already on the menu, they are expecting to change things as diners learn more about the food.

"It will develop,” he said.

"I didn't want to mess it up with too many things.”

Sushi on offer already includes chicken and avocado, salmon and cream cheese and pork and vegetables, all served as long nori rolls. Raw salmon sashimi is also available and while the pair were initially concerned about the freshness of the fish, so far from the sea, that problem was solved by the mobile fish truck that calls into Stanthorpe each Friday.

"I heard many people go to Brisbane, Toowoomba or Warwick for sushi,” said Ho.

"It's a long time driving.

"But now I'm open here, I hope they are happy.”

Hanasaku is located at 13 Davadi Street, Stanthorpe. Call 4681 2408

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