ZenSushi – The Beginnings
At the heart of this story there are two guys – Iulian and Andrei, who wanted to bring the true taste of Japanese meals to Romania and to raise the quality standards in this niche. They have also made these products far more accessible to people, without compromising the quality of ingredients.
Their first contact with sushi was back in the early 2000s, when they both worked at Tokyo Restaurant in Bucharest. Andrei left to work abroad, as a chef, while Iulian stayed beside the Tokyo owner – Okuda Yutaka, for 3 years. Thus he got to learn on the job from the very best. Later, he moved to another Japanese place – Sushi to Go. Here he spent 2 more years, building up knowledge and experience, while noticing the flaws, from backstage as well as from customers’ feedback.
In 2009, Iulian decided to open up its own Japanese restaurant, a place that would have good food made with premium ingredients. He was determined not to repeat the mistakes he noticed in the former jobs. He called Andrei to join him and together they have started on what seemed to be at first a crazy journey.
From the first restaurant, to the next four
So they have opened up their first restaurant in Serban Voda Street, in a place that formerly worked as a pub. They have worked together, playing as construction workers, architects or even plumbers.
The most intense memory from inauguration day? Their water pipes froze down. So they had to take them down, unfreeze them and put them back on. At first it was just the two of them plus an employee and they did all the work themselves.
Three years later – in 2012, the have managed to open up the second ZenSushi place, around Victoria Square. This was set up in the building where another restaurant ran before. It was more of a seized opportunity than a long-planned action. This time they hired an architect that worked based on their design ideas. They wanted to have a minimalist and modern ambience that would reflect the peace and harmony of the Zen philosophy.
When ZenSushi Dorobanti was born in 2014, they’ve already learned their lesson and it was easier to apply it to the next restaurants.
Their first restaurant – the one in Serban Voda Street, is no longer part of the ZenSushi chain. However, this gap was filled in not by one, but by two more restaurants – Sarroglia and Caramfil, plus a small “take away” concept place.
2016 was the year they opened ZenSushi Sarroglia, inside the Sarroglia Hotel. The place only needed a few design additions to make it to the present style – modern industrial.
The same industrial design, based on their own ideas, was used for ZenSushi Take Away. This is how a new “sushi to go” concept was brought to life, by maintaining the exceptional quality from the restaurants, with everything cooked on the spot. At ZenSushi Take Away nothing is prepared in advance and then kept in boxes. There are never any shortcuts in preparing the recipes. The main goal is to always have fresh and high quality products.
The ZenSushi Humans
Starting the end of the ‘90s Andrei has worked for five years as a chef at Tokyo Restaurant. He recommended Iulian to the place’s owner – Okuda Yutaka, even though Iulian had no experience in the field at that time. Andrei then left to the UK, in New Castle, where he worked at Saint Sushi for three years.
Iulian then had the idea of a Japanese restaurant that would respect the recipes and the rigor of Japanese cuisine. He decided that this project could take shape faster and better if he played along with an experienced person, like Andrei. This is how it started.
Even though they opened two more restaurants in 2011 – 2014, besides the first one, it was important to invest in their own know-how and training. They knew that if they wanted to offer premium products and services they had to learn from the experts.
Thus, in 2011 Iulian went to Japan to attend a training program with Masayoshi Kazato – president of All Japan Sushi Association & Sushi skills Institute.
In 2014, he trained with Ken Kawasumi, Japan’s absolute sushi champion.
Yes, in Japan there are sushi championships. And in 2014 Iulian attended World’s Sushi Championship in Tokyo, where he ranked in the world’s top 10 sushi chefs.
However, the ZenSushi chain would not be as it is without its entire team. There are over 100 employees working in the four restaurants and the take away place. Some of them have been here since the very beginning. Most of them are recruited with zero skills. Here they are trained under the same maximum quality standard, learning to work in a completely sanitary manner and to follow precisely the recipes and the proper Japanese cooking methods.
There is no accounting for ZenSushi taste
ZenSushi was the first to introduce the sushi/sashimi platter or menu in Romania. This way you can discover surprising combinations and tastes that you might have not considered trying.
Here was the place where the first Spicy Tuna Tempura Maki was served and eaten. Also, this was the place where the spectacular sophisticated and savoury Dragon Maki was seen and tasted. Duck Harumaki – rice rolls with duck meat and vegetables – is also another dish born at ZenSushi.
And because we have mentioned the World’s Sushi Championship, how can we not talk about the dish that brought Iulian in the first 10 sushi chefs in the world. World Cup Sushi is about marinated salmon with rice, black truffle and of course, some secret ingredients.
All recipes are designed, prepared and tested by Iulian and Andrei.
This is why ZenSushi means the most Japanese sushi you can eat in Bucharest. Here you can always be sure about the freshness and quality of the ingredients. All restaurants are meant to offer you a relaxing experience and an adventure of taste, allowing the Zen vibe to enter your body and spirit.