Two sister dining places under a person roof: Koma and Kanpai Sushi merge functions in Palo Alto | Peninsula Foodist | The Peninsula Foodist

With the Menlo Park spot slated for improvement, the mainstay family members cafe retains its menu and personnel with move to new environment

By Sara Hayden

Following 20 years in Menlo Park, Koma Sushi now has a new household a number of minutes absent in Palo Alto, at sister restaurant Kanpai Sushi.

A platter of Amaebi, tuna, albacore, yellowtail tuna, salmon, surf clam, scallop and squid sashimi, served with fried Amaebi heads on a mattress of shredded daikon radish, at Kanpai Sushi in Palo Alto. (Photograph by Magali Gauthier)

The making that housed Koma Sushi in Menlo Park is currently being demolished to make way for the mixed-use Allied Arts enhancement.

“It is really sad that we have to go out of a spot we have been at for a incredibly very long time. But it’s also fascinating that we are commencing a new chapter,” operator Koichi Baba states.

The exterior of Kanpai Sushi in Palo Alto. (Picture by Magali Gauthier)

In downtown Palo Alto, Koma Sushi buyers can be expecting to nonetheless discover their favorites at the 330 Lytton Avenue location. All the things will be under the Kanpai Sushi identify, but both Koma and Kanpai will continue to keep their respective groups and menus, featuring sushi, sashimi, udon, teriyaki, tempura, sake and extra.

“The identify is likely to be various, but … I want to make certain (customers) can see the same people doing the job here, including myself,” Baba suggests. “All the staff members are good friends with common shoppers.”

This just isn’t Koma Sushi’s 1st shift. The cafe was at first found throughout the Dumbarton Bridge at the Fremont Hub purchasing middle, in which Koma Sushi opened in March of 1977.

“That was one of the oldest Japanese eating places all around Newark, Hayward and Fremont in the Tri-Town area,” Baba states.

Kanpai Sushi proprietor Koichi Baba prepares sushi at the Palo Alto restaurant on September 7th, 2021. (Image by Magali Gauthier)

Baba recalls very first hearing about the Bay Region cafe when he was living in Tokyo, likely to college at evening to discover how to make sushi. A person he met had a relationship to Koma Sushi’s first owner in the United States. By that time, Baba had now been an trade college student to the U.S. twice, with stints learning at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and San Jose Condition University. He was eager to return.

“It is really been a aspiration for me, considering that my large college years. I always required to appear to the United States and open up a Japanese sushi restaurant,” Baba suggests.

Koma Sushi’s primary proprietor, Riyoko Lingerfelt, instructed Baba there was not even a BART line since the restaurant’s locale was so far afield at that time. Nevertheless, Baba arrived to do the job for “Riyoko-san.”

A clip from the 1977 Argus newspaper post on revolutionary restauranteur Riyoko Lingerfelt. (Image by means of

“She’s a legend actually. She’s a extremely tricky, solid female. Back then, jogging and owning a restaurant as a female was a tough issue, I feel. Even now, and in particular back again then. A lot of females weren’t performing that,” Baba states.

In 1977, The Argus newspaper described that Lingerfelt labored in places to eat her whole daily life, beginning in Japan at her parents’ cafe, and then continuing in the Bay Region in which she ran Koma Sushi with her sister Sumako Kinoshita. They failed to have a microwave oven, but they had a cook dinner, and a pal who aided them make tailor made “koma” recreation parts to decorate the cafe.

Lingerfelt informed the paper, “I assumed I understood almost everything about the cafe company when I made the decision to start off my own.” She laughed, and ongoing, “But I was wrong. I’ve realized a great deal due to the fact then, and I continue to have a large amount to study. It is not quick.”

The reporter asked Lingerfelt why she selected Fremont, to which she responded there ended up no other Japanese places to eat there.

“Of class, deficiency of opposition is no assure of achievement, but with her charm and culinary means, Riyoko just may make it!” the article concluded.

And she did. When Riyoko-san was completely ready to retire from the cafe, Baba took more than, and operated in the Fremont locale for more than a 10 years.

“We had a incredibly regular, previous-fashioned Japanese foodstuff menu, like sukiyaki that you practically never see ideal now,” Baba claims.

Kanpai Sushi’s dragon roll has shrimp tempura and avocado inside and is topped with eel, in Palo Alto. (Picture by Magali Gauthier)

When their Fremont creating was demolished, Baba relocated Koma Sushi to Menlo Park and progressed the menu, specializing in sushi and much more versions of fish.

Considering the fact that then, Baba and his spouse, Noriko, have opened a further restaurant in Portola Valley, and introduced a fusion menu at Kanpai Sushi in Palo Alto. Koma Sushi became a favorite of Flea Street owner Jesse Awesome, and a extended-standing household beloved. The Babas have viewed some clients increase up there.

“They made use of to arrive below with tiny little ones. Now they are all older people, some have little ones. Wanting at the family members background of the normal consumers, I am so very pleased,” Baba claims.

Baba says he to begin with prepared to retire right after running the business for more than 30 several years, but he ideas to maintain with it now, carrying on the spirit of a restaurant that’s now into its 44th yr of ongoing operation.

“It truly is like we are commencing a new chapter in our heritage,” he says.

Kanpai Sushi entrepreneurs Noriko and Koichi Baba in the Palo Alto cafe. (Photo by Magali Gauthier)

Koma Sushi is now a portion of Kanpai Sushi at 330 Lytton Avenue in Palo Alto. Attendees can dine at the restaurant indoors or out. Supply and takeout are also accessible.

Kanpai Sushi // 330 Lytton Avenue, Palo Alto 650.325.2696

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