Team TNV’s Amey Joshi talks to restaurateur Amory Dsouza, chef and owner of Yaki Zushi restaurant about his inspiration and journey of introducing South East Asian cuisine to the coastal state of Goa
Q. How did your journey begin in this field?
– Since my family was in hospitality line, I took up to learning all that I could of this field. After pursuing my BSc in Hospitality & Hotel Administration from Bangalore, I began working as a management trainee for Taj Vivanta in Panaji. While working as a chef de partie at Tamari, a Pan Asian restaurant at Taj, I handled the Japanese, Thai and Indonesian sections. There I got the inspiration to start my own South East Asian Restaurant. With great chefs teaching me and expat chefs flying in from abroad to give me inputs, I learnt so much in a short span of time! Apart from learning about sushi, I got to know about other important aspects such as the hygiene required and the style of cooking in an open kitchen where customers could watch me cook in a way that does not offend. It was my determination, self-motivation and my father’s support that drove me to establish Yaki-Zushi.
Q. For how long have you been in restaurant business?
– I got introduced to the hospitality business thanks to my dad who started A’Lua 25 years ago. Growing up with my father was an amazing journey by itself, whenever possible he would get me involved in the family business and that is how my passion for this grew and now I have pretty good idea of what goes into running a food related venture.
Q. Why did you choose this line?
– Well it’s more like the line chose me. It has been a family business and I was introduced to this field at a very young age. I have walked through life seeing my father do this every single day of his life. And now that he is no more with me I believe that it’s my responsibility to continue his legacy and continue my father’s name. I want A’Lua to be the name on everyone’s mind. And I know my father’s spirit will be with me on this journey.
Q. Tell us more about your restaurant Yaki Zushi.
– Yaki Zushi is a 70 cover oriental restaurant that focuses on providing clients with authentic Asian cuisine with a casual dining experience. Being very primly located at Sangolda on the main Chogm road, our goal is to reach out to every sector of the market. The restaurant has a very promising future due to the growing demand of Japanese, Chinese and Thai food. Sangolda has a very warm, peaceful and friendly environment, allowing you to dine in nature. A place where you always know you will get the best of everything. Yaki Zushi will provide you with a truly warm Asian Experience. The various services offered at our venue includes bar, smoking areas, outdoor seating as well as AC dining hall, we also provide home delivery. We welcome guests from 11:00am -3:00pm and 7:00pm – 11:00pm allowing diners to relish a scrumptious meal between the functional hours. Besides the al carte menu we also offer outdoor catering service and party banquet halls (A/C, Non- A/C and open air).
Q. Why was it named Yaki Zushi?
– Yaki Zushi is Japanese for ‘grill and sushi.’ My original concept was to sell the best sushi in town. I am still working on the ‘grill’ aspect. We have even re-done the interiors completely and have a growing customer base. Our customers can choose to see
the chef preparing sushi if he wishes to.
Q. How did you get the idea of starting an oriental cuisine restaurant?
– The inspiration to start on my own began at Taj. I started with a brunch at A’Lua in Sangolda and quickly revamped the Indo-Chinese menu to make it more Asian-inspired. I always had a liking for the indo-Chinese dishes, not only because of the unique taste but also because of the health benefits of these dishes. Chinese and Japanese food is cooked with the intention of increasing the health benefits like longevity and having healing powers and medicinal value
Q. How is the demand for oriental cuisine in Goa?
– Goans are open to trying out sushi. I didn’t expect to have such a great response from the customers and I see a pretty good future. I make it a point to talk to every customer, and if I find that they are new to the cuisine, I offer my recommendations with dishes I know they will like. I do this so they don’t order something they are put-off by and stay away from the cuisine entirely in future. If they are a seasoned sushi lover, I know that they will definitely love what we have to offer.
Q. Which are the signature dishes of the restaurant?
– Prawn sushi, nigiri, sashimi and tuna ceviche are popular among people who are fine with authentic Japanese food. Our hot items like tom yum and tom kha soups move fast, along with miso, ramen, Shanghai chicken and Thai chicken wings. Apart from these, the tepanyaki, gyoza, Thai curries, crab meat fried rice and burnt garlic rice are a few of our much loved items.
Q. Tell us about Sushi Festival
– Well, the Sushi Festival has been a great experimental ground for me to decipher what the market in Goa wants from sushi. As Goa is still a bit new to the concept of Japanese food and especially sushi, it really helped me a lot to find out the likes and dislikes of the Goan community as they are my main market for now. In the last festival we had experimented with about 25 types of sushi preparations, some entirely raw, some semi raw, some entirely cooked, so it was a great experience for us to find out what the market expects from us.
Q. What message do you have for youngsters who want to get into this profession?
– Don’t worry about what you get paid. Whatever you think you should make, you’re probably wrong. Go to places where you want to work and wait for an opportunity there. Those are the places that are going to mould you into the chef that you will become. Work ethic and attitude is everything.