Mia Pham is at her happiest when she cooks Japanese food from fried eel to carefully-arranged sashimi and salad in a lunchtime bento box.
And she is in luck, as Truro’s much-loved Sushi Way restaurant on The Esplanade is finally open again after a three-year hiatus – this time hiring Pham as one of two cooks for its kitchen. The restaurant restarted business on Aug. 3 and is hosting its formal re-opening day on Aug. 15.
“I feel great when I cook here, the environment’s so good, the smell’s good, everything’s good,” said Pham.
While many say that Sushi Way has the best Japanese food in town, neither of its cooks are from that country. Pham immigrated to Canada from Vietnam on a work permit when her husband moved to Nova Scotia for his studies. Before starting work at Sushi Way, Pham was a cook for three years at a Chinese restaurant.
Her kitchen colleague Vanessa Chen and restaurant boss Vincent Huang are both from China.
However, the restaurant trade is a common way for immigrants from all over the world to find work in Canada and it was no different for both Huang and his staff.
He first arrived in Canada 16 years ago from his home city of Guangzhou in southern China, close to Hong Kong. He has worked in the restaurant industry ever since he first arrived and has worked in Truro since 2010.
But he was forced to close Sushi Way on Esplanade Street three years ago owing to hip trouble that required surgery.
“I was waiting for a long time,” Huang recalled.
This meant that customers had to wait for a long time for Sushi Way to re-open, but it was worth it for Hyesun Kwon.
Originally from Seoul in Korea, Kwon’s hometown had plenty of Japanese restaurants that she often visited and enjoyed. Despite a history of conflict between Japan and Korea, the cuisine remains a popular choice for many Koreans eating out.
Compared to many Canadian restaurants, the cuisine served by Korean Japanese restaurants was much closer to their Japanese equivalents.
“Sushi in other places is a little bit more Canadian – sweeter – but here it is more Japanese style,” said Kwon.
She also said Sushi Way’s prices were fair while the variety of food on offer was similar to what she sampled in Seoul. Its dishes include other delicacies such as noodles and rice dishes such as the Unagi (fried eel) don.
Before Sushi Way re-opened, Kwon had to visit Halifax to find the sushi that she liked.