Bonsai Teriyaki has lived a long life as a typical teriyaki and wok takeout place with an economically priced menu of chicken teriyaki, yakisoba, donburi and Chinese wok items.
Locals probably have noticed a few changes lately at the Westgate neighborhood restaurant.
Most notably, the decor started to shift. The mismatched cream and green walls were replaced by sunny shades of yellow-orange. New furniture also arrived. And artwork.
Now the name has changed to Sake Sushi + Grill.
All those changes come from the restaurant’s new owners, who purchased the restaurant and operated it as Bonsai Teriyaki for several months as they slowly changed the interior and updated the concept.
“It was a little outdated before,” explained Jennifer Han, whose mother, Sue Han, is the chef.
“Our goal was to turn it into a place where we can entertain customers,” said Jennifer Han. “We wanted to be more than a pick-up-and-go place. We want to be where you can go and have a drink and experience different kinds of cuisine.”
While the menu still lists the bargain priced $8.99 chicken teriyaki and a selection of yakisoba, donburi and wok items all priced about $11 and less, the family added an extensive list of sushi rolls, nigiri and sashimi.
They’ve also added a nice selection of sake and other adult beverages.
The official name change happened over the last week. The footprint of the restaurant stayed the same, which means only about 24 diners can fit in the compact dining room, but the space looks much more modern.
The mother-daughter project comes with family help from Han’s sister, Elisa Han, and their father, Tony Han. This is a first restaurant for Sue Han, who the family says has always been an excellent home cook.
“She is really good at making Japanese food, and we’ve gotten a lot of compliments on the food already so far,” said Jennifer Han.
The family collaborated on expanding the menu to include sushi because there isn’t a big selection of sushi in the neighborhood.
“In looking at the market where there is demand and not enough supply, it’s a good fit for us to expand the menu,” she said.
Which of her mom’s specialties are the best depends on which family member you ask. Han prefers her mother’s yakisoba. Her younger sister thinks her tofu stir fry is better. If you ask Sue Han, her answer is short ribs.
“She’s mastered the marination process. They’re so tender and juicy,” said Jennifer Han.
Those beef shortribs are $14.99 and are listed alongside chicken ($8.99), beef ($10.99), pork ($10.99) and other kinds of teriyaki, as well as katsu ($10.99). The small wok menu includes sweet-and-sour chicken ($10.99), Mongolian beef ($11.99), almond chicken ($11.99) and more. There’s also fried rice ($8.99 to $11.99), donburi ($9.99 to $17.99), yakisoba ($8.99 to $11.99) and a list of soups that includes ramen ($8.99), nabeyaki udon ($9.99) and miso soup ($2.50).
The sushi list has 35 specialty rolls ($4.99 to $14.99). That list includes the basics, such as a California roll ($6.99) and tuna roll ($5.99), but also more complicated specialty rolls such as a spider roll with soft shell crab ($12.99), orange blossom roll with shrimp, crab, salmon and tuna ($13.99) and an ahi tuna tower roll ($13.99). The list of nigiri is 12 choices deep ($3.99 to $7.99) and the sashimi selection includes six-piece combination plates ($10.99 to $14.99).
One more sushi update: Westgate diners missing Flying Fish, the sushi restaurant that closed in June, are getting the restaurant back. A new location for Flying Fish is currently under construction in the same shopping center and expects to reopen in 2019.
Sake Sushi + Grill
Where: 5738 N. 26th St., Tacoma
Info: 253-759-2558 or facebook.com/SakeSushiGrillTacoma
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily