Gardena’s Got Gatten

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The grand opening included a kagami-biraki ceremony. Gatten Sushi USA CEO Yukinari Yamamoto is on the right. (Photo by JUN NAGATA/Rafu Shimpo)

GARDENA — Gatten Sushi held a grand opening May 11 in Gardena for its sixth restaurant in the U.S.

Irvine-based Gatten Sushi USA, led by CEO Yukinari Yamamoto, aims to provide high-quality kaiten (revolving or conveyor-belt) sushi to draw South Bay customers, starting with Asian Americans.

CEO Yukinari Yamamoto wished Gardena branch manager Shigeru Akimoto good luck and presented him with a giant sashimi knife. (Photo by JUN NAGATA/Rafu Shimpo)

Located on Artesia Boulevard in a new commercial project about a mile west of the 91 Freeway, the new restaurant is eye-catching for drivers on the busy highway. Yamamoto said he was pleased with the prominent signage.

Yamamoto saw just how good the location was geographically and demographically when the restaurant had a “soft opening” starting April 24. Despite minimal publicity, there were so many customers that people were waiting to get in.

Gatten has two types of restaurants — “Junior,” where sushi is $2 per plate, and “Shuntei” or “Original,” where prices range from $1.50 to $5. The Gardena restaurant is one of the latter and offers a wide variety of fresh ingredients.

The “Live Series” includes amaebi (sweet shrimp), aoyagi (yellow clam), awabi (abalone), kanpachi (yellowtail) from Japan, madai (red sea bream), hirame (halibut) from South Korea, tairagai (razor shell clam), hotate (scallop) from the East Coast, kaki (oyster) from Washington state, and uni (sea urchin) from Santa Barbara.

Yamamoto claimed that no one else can provide sushi of such high quality for such low prices, and promised that once customers experience the freshness and flavor of Gatten’s seafood, they will keep coming back.

The restaurant also has specialties such as tamagoyaki (rolled omelette) and almond tofu.

Three veteran Japanese sushi chefs and an experienced staff produce about 100 menu items. The restaurant seats about 100 at the counter and booths, and is suitable for family outings as well as business meetings.

Gardena Mayor Paul Tanaka was among the dignitaries who attended the opening ceremony. (Photo by JUN NAGATA/Rafu Shimpo)

The opening ceremony was attended by Mayor Paul Tanaka, Councilmember Dan Medina and representatives of the Gardena Valley Chamber of Commerce. They offered congratulations and expressed hope that Gatten will help to stimulate the local economy.

“On behalf of … the entire Gardena City Council and the entire community of Gardena, we wish to congratulate … Gatten Sushi on the grand opening of this very, very beautiful restaurant,” Tanaka said. “Thank you for choosing Gardena for your location of your sixth restaurant … We wish you all the best for great success for many years to come.”

The event also included the slicing of a 120-pound maguro (tuna) from Hawaii and performances of taiko and Awa Odori.

Local residents Chuck and Terry Nugent were among the first-time customers. They liked the made-in-USA Kobe beef nigiri as well as non-seafood items like the vegetable roll, edamame, and tempura. The two said they would definitely come again.

Gatten USA’s goal is to have 15 restaurants by the end of next year. The seventh is expected to open in Koreatown next month. There are currently branches in Cerritos, Monterey Park, Irvine, Rowland Heights and West Covina.

The Gardena restaurant, located at 1530 W. Artesia Blvd., Suite A (next to Rascals and in front of the 1600 at Artesia Square condominiums), is open Sunday to Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information, call (310) 436-0076 or visit www.gattenusa.com.

Reported by Jun Nagata, translated by J.K. Yamamoto

First-time customers check out the selection. (Photo by JUN NAGATA/Rafu Shimpo)

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