Wasabi, London-based Japanese fast casual restaurant chain, will open its first U.S. location in Times Square at 561 Seventh Avenue on February 24, 2014.
Wasabi specializes in a selection of individually-wrapped sushi and Japanese hot food favorites, including bento boxes and noodle soups, as well as made-to-order salads and special sushi rolls, all made fresh in-store daily. Customers can “Pick & Mix” from more than 50 types of sushi for as little as $1.50 for two pieces.
The bright open kitchen allows guests to watch Wasabi’s chefs preparing sushi throughout the day. Sushi is sold by the piece, ready to grab-and-go. Individually wrapped sushi includes a selection of hosomaki (thin rolls), futomaki (fat rolls), nigiri (thinly sliced fish over rice), and gunkan (torpedo-shaped pieces). Wasabi also serves a selection of hand-rolls and a variety of onigiri, which are triangles of rice wrapped around a choice of savory filling (like Roast Salmon or Chicken Teriyaki), and tied with nori.
The “Hot Food” menu at Wasabi reads like the “Top of the Pops” of Japanese entrees—bento boxes filled with a choice of chicken teriyaki, pork katsu rice, chicken katsu curry, salmon teriyaki, and more—all made fresh, in-house throughout the day.
The Wasabi collection of soups includes a variety of New Yorkers’ favorite, Ramen, as well as a collection of Soumen, a noodle soup made withsuper-thin rice noodles, and Tanmen, made with thick rice noodles. Wasabi also offers special sushi rolls and a made-to-order salad bar, which, in addition to a wide variety of greens and vegetables, offers a number of shrimp and chicken dishes as main course toppings.
Wasabi founder Dong Hyun Kim believes quality of product and social responsibility are of utmost importance to the Wasabi brand, and is thus committed to serving sustainably-sourced Yellowfin Tuna and Salmon, and never serving a sushi product beyond the day it was made.
Korean-born Kim moved to the UK in 1999 with a desire to make high-quality Japanese classics accessible for takeout routines. In 2003, Kim translated his idea into the Wasabi brand and opened his first Wasabi location in London, offering individually wrapped sushi and encouraging diners to experiment with variety and quantity. Since then, Wasabi has expanded to 36 locations across the U.K.
Wasabi’s open, sun-filled space, with clean white lines and pops of bright green, will be a welcome respite from hectic Times Square. Guests will be greeted with modern cases filled with rows of colorful, fresh sushi, and all the necessary components to complete an affordable dining experience for any time of the day. Guests can take out or dine-in, grabbing one of 65 green stools lined up along the vast windows overlooking Times Square.
As Wasabi’s first branch in the U.S., this flagship location will pave the way for other Manhattan locations the company plans to open over the next two years.