Serena’s Sushi Success
Serena Ang (2001) is the co-owner at Zushi, the fabulous modern Japanese joint in Surry Hills, which has expanded to find a home in the foodie haven located in Sydney’s Barangaroo. As the co-owner of a restaurant that delivers delicious and affordable Japanese food, Serena loves the fact that every day at Zushi is different, saying that owning a restaurant give her great joy because she feels as if she is welcoming her customers into her own personal kitchen.
For all restaurant owners, the past year has seen the hospitality industry under incredible pressure to survive the challenges of a global pandemic. Serena is proud of Zushi’s ability to adapt, saying, ‘Avenues of our business, which we’ve wanted to expand but never had the time to do so, now have the growth to create a whole new experience for Zushi customers. From at home DIY sushi-making kits, to sending our chefs out for private events with that personal touch, we’ve been able to adapt in creative and unique ways. As much as it’s a challenging time, it’s inspiring to be surrounded by businesses that are driven with such passion to survive.’
The right concept and team behind it are what makes every business a success. The idea behind Zushi was born in 2005 with the simple thought that there was no real market for affordable Japanese food. Serena says ‘It was either fine dining or takeaway shops.’ Fortunately Serena and her brother Raymond had over 10 years’ hospitality experience within their family business EJ Holdings Pty Ltd, when they decided to combine forces with Lee Yoon Jae, Zushi’s Executive Chef who also had over 35 years of trained Japanese cuisine experience. The concept of modern, casual Japanese dining was born.
A successful business is more than just a good idea! Serena explains, ‘You need to find the right management team and the right suppliers driving the business. The balance sheet needs to reflect a successful 5-year business plan. Finding the right space with enough foot traffic was also key. Word of mouth was the only advertising we required when we secured our first location on the then bustling Victoria St in Darlinghurst.’ From this beginning, a successful business grew and is now over 15 years old.
The real question, one might ask, is how good is the food? For any sushi lover, the description of some of the most popular and signature dishes at Zushi really get the mouth watering. The Toothfish is Zushi’s signature dish consisting of Glacier 51 Toothfish, with yuzu tamari butter, crispy leek and grilled asparagus. Serena’s personal favourite is Honey Prawns: simple, crunchy deep-fried Queensland banana prawns with honey mayonnaise. Serena says ‘This is the dish I gave complimentary to my now husband. Without trying these we wouldn’t be married!’
Good food, excellent service and a great atmosphere might create a recipe for success but Serena is mindful that any good restaurant needs to remain consistent to retain its loyal customers. She says that if her team continues to strive for excellence, Zushi will hopefully continue to thrive.
Photos left to right: Serena and her brother Ray, some of Zushi’s delicious food