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March, 2010


Lincoln sushi Restaurant opened doors in May
By Lien Hoang
The News messenger

To bring the world of Japanese cuisine to the city of Lincoln, Mike Kim made sure he'd seen enough of the globe to sate his taste buds first.

Born in Korea, Kim has sampled dishes in Japan and Thailand, New York and Los Angeles.

"That's part of the job, eating other food," Kim said.

He's also, of course, had plenty of Korean fare, but he ultimately decided sushi was the way to go.

"I like to eat sushi, so I want to make good sushi," he said.

With that in mind, Kim opened up Zakuro Sushi Bistro on May 16. He named the restaurant after the Japanese word for "pomegranate," an exotic and healthy fruit with an Asian twist – the very characteristics that Kimi sees in sushi.

Enclosing the dining area are dozens of square pillars whose reddish hue upholds the pomegranate theme. The same fruity redness coats the remainder of the restaurant as well, on the napkins and uniforms, against the patterned walls – even across the three, impressively lofty wine shelves comfortably nestled into the back wall.

As happy as Kim is with his new establishment, he came by it through an unfortunate event. A previous restaurant, Samurai Sushi, made headlines in 2005 when the boat-of-restaurant sunk into the American River, sending Kim searching for a new place.

Once he landed an eatery in Lincoln, the chef brought along the menu from Samurai, literally. Kim is giving it a "complete makeover" that'll result in the final menu for Zakuro, according to manager peter Hong.

"All of the food will undergo some change," said Hong, who also worked with Kim at Samurai.

In addition to the popular rolls, sashimi, and lunch specials that change daily, Zakuro boasts more than 100 different sake drinks. Guests can try the simple raspberry, the healthy organic or the eccentric variety dotted with golden flakes, to name a few.

Some come in preferring cooked food and Zakuro can accommodate those diners, but it often converts them instead.

"We've had people who never liked sushi, but they order ours and now they love it," Hong said.

Kim and his other chefs try to name their rolls to fit the location or nature of the roll, like the Hwy. 65 and the Lincoln, for obvious reasons, or the Red Bull (for its energy) and the Golden Gate (for its appearance).

Even better is when they can name a roll after a customer, usually because the guest made a special request, like adding oranges or strawberries to a roll.

That's the kind of customer service Zakuro hopes to provide, whether it's hosting a party of 40 who bring along their own disc jockey, or staying open after business hours if that's what guests want.

"It's not about the money, it's about making connections with people," Hong said.

Hong and Kim repeatedly stressed their goal of creating a welcoming social environment and becoming a part of the Lincoln community. Sometimes, that means talking to guests for hours on end. Other times, it's giving a 20 percent discount to people who contribute to the community, like firefighters, police officers and hospital employees.

Nancy Belenger works for Kaiser and said she's been having lunch at Zakuro almost daily since it opened.

"I've eaten at a lot of sushi restaurants, and this is by far the best," Belenger said. "The owners and workers are really pleasant. They spoil me, they make my food just like I like."

Zakuro is located at 835 Twelve Bridges Drive, Suite 80. For more information, call (916) 543-4455.