Jing Chen, co-owner of Nikki’s Steak House & Sushi Bar, 1055 Military Cutoff Rd., has signed on for a new venture called Nori Asian Fusion & Sushi Bar, a restaurant on its way to The Pointe at Barclay in midtown Wilmington.
Chen and her husband, Yun Zhao, purchased Nikki’s Steak House and Sushi Bar from her uncle, Johnny Chen, two years ago, after working at several Nikki’s locations in town for nearly 10 years.
But Chen said that now she is ready to embrace a new challenge. She said she has always planned to one day own her own restaurant and when her uncle learned of the availability of space at The Pointe, he encouraged her to take the next step.
She describes her vision for Nori as traditional-yet-trendy. She said that the success of Nikki’s shows that Wilmington’s demand for sushi has grown tremendously in the past decade, and she feels that customers are ready for something more.
“People are much more adventurous now and are ready to try new things beyond the rolls and sashimi they have come to love,” Chen said.
Nori will serve authentic Japanese sushi blended with new trends. There will be a focus on Omakase-style sushi, meaning “chef’s choice.” These offerings will allow the chef to create each order individually, using the freshest and most choice ingredients, including imported Japanese seafood that is shipped fresh overnight.
“We have been experimenting with this fish coming in directly from Japan and it is incredible,” Chen said. “In some cases, the flavor is much more mild and buttery; it’s just delicious.”
Chen, who grew up in New York City’s Chinatown, will serve a variety of Chinese, Malaysian and Thai dishes that she was accustomed to eating throughout her childhood.
She will also place a heavy emphasis on educating customers on sake, hoping to introduce them to the wide variety of sake flavors available and how to best pair them with Asian food.
Nori will feature a large bar and sushi bar with an 80-seat dining room and a private party room for 12. There will also be a large outdoor patio.
A mid-February opening is expected.
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