Kenzi Hibachi Express to open in Pekin with Japanese food

Kenzie Yasa, 8, proudly displays the artwork on the side of his dad Ikomang Kembaryasa's food truck, Kenzi Hibachi Express, at its permanent location at 3324 Court St. in Pekin. The new food truck is named after Kenzie with a slight spelling change.

Kenzi Hibachi Express is coming to Pekin at least partially as a result of a Google search on the part of the restaurant’s co-owners.

When Ikomang Kembaryasa and his wife, Niwayan K.S. Utari, decided to relocate from Rockford and open a Japanese restaurant, they were searching for a community where they could break new ground. They chose Pekin because it was a community where they could be the first to offer Japanese cuisine.

“I was searching for places that don’t have a lot of Asian food,” said Kembaryasa. “When Pekin came up, we saw they don’t have any Japanese restaurants here.”

More:It’s all about street food at Peoria’s new food stand, Grill ‘Em All

The working space of Kenzi Hibachi Express is nearly ready to go with new appliances and kitchen supplies.

Kembaryasa, a chef with 15 years of experience, developed his craft working at a Japanese restaurant in Wisconsin before deciding to go into business for himself. Kenzi will feature the cuisine typical of a Japanese steakhouse — including steak, shrimp, scallops, salmon and noodle dishes — but will offer it from a mobile kitchen rather than cooking it tableside in a sit-down restaurant.

“It’s a hibachi restaurant without the show,” Kembaryasa said. “Hopefully, the community will welcome us and come and try our food.”

Kembaryasa and Utari plan to open Kenzi Hibachi Express early this month. Kembaryasa added that he intends to offer free soft drinks, including Japanese sodas, with each order for the first two weeks. Utari believes the restaurant’s location at 3324 Court St. will give it the advantage of visibility.

“I think

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Nisei looks to usher in a new era of Japanese fine dining in S.F. Here’s a first look inside

San Francisco’s Japanese fine dining scene is entering a new era with next week’s arrival of Restaurant Nisei.

Opening Aug. 18 in the former La Folie space at 2316 Polk St., Restaurant Nisei will see chef David Yoshimura present modern Japanese dishes across 12 courses for $157. Formerly the chef de cuisine at San Francisco’s Michelin-starred Californios, Yoshimura is applying an American tasting menu format to traditional Japanese flavors. He’s also avoiding sushi, which currently dominates high-end Japanese restaurant experiences in the city.

Next door is Bar Iris, a cocktail lounge decked out with midcentury modern furniture and an emphasis on Japanese whiskey. Yoshimura hopes it’ll debut the same day as the restaurant.

Reservations for Nisei are available on Tock, and the restaurant is requiring proof of vaccination to enter.

The dining room at Restaurant Nisei in San Francisco features handmade oak tables and a black-and-white color scheme.

The dining room at Restaurant Nisei in San Francisco features handmade oak tables and a black-and-white color scheme.

Kristen Murakoshi/Special to The Chronicle

Nisei debuted as a pop-up about two years ago. Yoshimura served 10-course Japanese tasting menus and then, during the early months of the pandemic, stunning bento boxes for takeout from Mister Jiu’s. Regardless of the format, Yoshimura says his food is based on the principles of washoku cuisine, which he describes as Japanese soul food. Washoku is based on rice, soup and a variety of side dishes that altogether reflect seasonality, balanced flavors and traditional techniques.

That said, diners can expect perfectly composed bites with luxury ingredients at Nisei. Wine pairings will be designed by Yoshimura,

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Adam Liaw’s unauthorised guide to Japanese home cooking

Has the Tokyo Olympics had you dreaming of sporting excellence and a Japanese holiday, only to have you come crashing back to the reality that you’re unlikely to win gold in the pool, or even travel interstate, let alone overseas, any time in the foreseeable future?

Even a night out at a Japanese restaurant can run anywhere from hard to get, to downright illegal, depending on what state you live in.

Your best bet, my friends, is to bring Japanese cuisine into your own kitchen.

Let me start by saying that I didn’t grow up eating Japanese food.

I probably only had sushi for the first time in my teens, so moving to Japan 20 years ago was a big learning curve for me.

Teriyaki sauce can be used on chicken, pork, beef and fish.
Teriyaki sauce can be used on chicken, pork, beef and fish. Photo: William Meppem

I’ve studied Japanese food for years now, and I think these days I do a pretty good job of it. The Japanese government even gave me an award for it a few years ago.

But this guide isn’t a masterclass in the technique and elegance of Japanese cuisine. This is from the trenches and I’m fighting dirty.

If you want to make delicious Japanese food at home, and simply, this is how to do it. Classically trained Japanese chefs please look away now.

Teriyaki everything

Teriyaki isn’t as popular in Japan as Australian-Japanese cuisine would have you believe, but that doesn’t

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How to steal your senpai’s technique with Japanese chef Chase Kojima | The Cook Up with Adam Liaw | TV

— The Cook Up with Adam Liaw airs weeknights on SBS Food at 7.00pm. Chase Kojima’s Japanese episode airs Tuesday, 10 August. Each episode will be made available after broadcast on SBS On Demand. — 


The New York Times’ Malcolm Gladwell wrote that it takes 10,000 hours to learn and master a skill. Nothing yet has been widely said about stealing a skill, but in Chase Kojima’s case and in all sense of the word, he stole his technique from his legendary sushi chef father and mentor.

“You cannot expect people to teach you. You need to steal the skill from the senpai (mentor). You need to be hungry to get good. You need to take action and work hard.” Kojima recalls how his father very clearly explained the proactive concept. The chef’s early training was far from formal, and he owes his business success to this way of thinking. “Basically, you need to teach yourself. You need to watch, focus, and understand. You learn why things work a certain way and you start to question everything. Is this the best way to do it?”

The empire owner brings his sukiyaki recipe to The Cook Up – a Japanese style hot-pot that embodies both Japanese cuisine and its simplest cooking methods. In preparation of the show, he thought about other iconic dishes and TV-friendly alternatives. “There’s ramen, sushi, tempura […] sukiyaki was just spot on.”

Adam Liaw and Kojima have shared the stage before and have been in the same

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