New teriyaki restaurant features fresh fare

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Amy Tang and Matthew Chan want to make something clear about their new Kanawha City restaurant, Fusion Teriyaki Grille:

There are no egg rolls on the menu.

Or crab Rangoon.

In fact, they don’t even have a deep fryer on site.

The restaurant’s slogan is “Eat Fresh, Be Happy.” Lighter, fresher fare is the star of the menu.

Tang said she doesn’t know why Asian food often is thought of as fat-laden and unhealthy.

“That’s not how we eat at home,” she said of her family.

The meats at Fusion are grilled, not fried. The vegetables and fruit sides are fresh. The sauces are made on site and are gluten free.

The restaurant, which specializes in fast, casual dining, is located in the space formerly occupied by Penn Station Subs, which recently moved to a larger space nearby on MacCorkle Avenue.

Tang and Chan ordered up extensive renovations before opening. New flooring, lighting, seating and kitchen equipment have been installed. The decor is simple and airy, with modern black and white tiles and lemongrass accents. It reflects the restaurant’s philosophy of fresh eating.

Fusion specializes in fast, casual service. Menu prices range from $5.99 for a mini chicken teriyaki bowl to $11.99 for a Kalbi (Korean short ribs) bowl. Domestic and imported beers are available in bottles.

Since opening last Wednesday, the restaurant has been slammed with business. Customers are leaving happy, too.

Ryan Shanks, who works for General Sales Co., which provides the restaurant with paper products, raved about the food.

“It’s so fresh and not at all saturated with fats,” he said. “Everything is cooked perfectly and the sauces are fantastic.”

Shanks, who used to eat at the former Penn Station, also said he enjoyed what Tang and Chan had done with the place.

“It’s really inviting decor,” he said, adding that the renovations gave the space a more cosmopolitan feel.

Tang, 31, and Chan, 34, know restaurant work well. They grew up in the industry.

Chan’s father was a chef in a Cantonese restaurant in Silver Spring, Md., while Tang’s parents owned a Chinese restaurant just outside of Baltimore. Both were recruited in their teens to help out.

They both planned to pursue other careers, but eventually found their way back to the food industry. Most recently, they worked for the Taste of Asia local chain.

Chan and Tang flew in Los Angeles chefs Yasu Tatsuwa and Leo Kim to help them get the restaurant up and running. Tatsuwa, 39, was born in Tokyo, and Kim, 35, was born in Seoul, Korea. They helped develop the menu, train the staff and guide the business in its first couple of days of operation.

Tang met Kim two years ago when she took one of his cooking classes in Los Angeles.

Tang laughed when she recalled her first day in Kim’s class. She said he wasn’t impressed with her abilities at first.

“I said, ‘Who teach you how to hold a knife?’” Kim said.

But he said her skills improved dramatically in no time.

“If not, I wouldn’t be here,” he said with a smile.

Teriyaki Fusion Grille is located at 4002 MacCorkle Ave. SE. Its hours of operation are 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Reach Life editor Billy Wolfe at life@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4830.