BRANDON — Eugenia Yu's sushi journey began nearly 12 years ago.
She recalls opening her first sushi restaurant and naming it Tsunami. The eatery caused quite a stir, not because it opened just months after an actual tsunami disaster killed nearly a quarter million people in countries bordering the Indian Ocean, but because the Crab delight, cream cheese and avocado roll served panko style with yum yum sauce introduced Brandon diners to a new stylized type of sushi.
Yu recalls a time when there were hour-long waits for one of the 106 seats. She also got to know many repeat customers by name and was touched to learn one of them with a terminal illness chose the Double J roll as a last meal.
She eventually sold Tsunami and has operated Takara sushi for the past four years, catering to the USF area. A Valrico resident and mother of two, she recently moved her Takara brand from Tampa to Brandon, serving Japanese, Korean and American cuisine since December in the standalone building at Oak Park Plaza that once housed Poblanos Mexican Grill & Bar.
Rolls range from a basic $5 salmon roll to a $16 Jabadahut tempura grouper roll. The Double J roll that helped put Yu's sushi on the map, named for customers James and John, has re-emerged on the Takara menu as the DJ which comes with a slightly different sauce and costs $10.
"We try to be different," said Yu, 35, who recently served Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "We want to be a good brand for everyone."
Yu said she moved locations because she wanted a full-liquor bar and more seating. The new restaurant has both, seating 200 including an outdoor patio overlooking a pond full of turtles.
Yu's journey to America began in 1997. Born in Hong Kong, she went to high school in Hollywood as an exchange student and eventually studied at USF. She designed the interior of her new restaurant.
Call (813) 662-6618 for takeout or catering.
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