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Asian fast-food chain opens boro store front

Customers line up to order lunch at Sarku Japan in Flushing, the first storefront branch of the Japanese fast-food chain in Queens. Photo by Karen Frantz
TimesLedger Newspapers

A new fast-food option is available in Flushing that offers quick, made-to-order food without a lot of the unhealthy trappings usually associated with such fast fare: Sarku Japan.

With menu items such as chicken, beef and shrimp teriyaki — as well as other Japanese staples such as sushi, dumplings and spring rolls — the store’s manager, Janet Xie, said customers like the food because it tastes fresh. And she said it also does not hurt that it is a bit better for you than some other fast-food options.

“It’s low calorie compared with other fast-food — McDonald’s, Wendy’s,” she said. “And I think more healthy, too.”

She said the store receives daily shipments and the food is made fresh every day. What is not used is thrown out or given to employees to take home at the end of the day.

In addition, unlike Chinese fast-food, little of Japanese is deep-fried, she said.

“Here the only thing is the tempura is deep fried,” she said. “And others like chicken teriyaki we just put on the grill.”

She said the fried rice is also made without meat, unlike the Chinese version, and the vegetables are steamed instead of cooked in oil.

The Japanese fast-food franchise, which boasts it is the largest and most successful Japanese fast-food chain in the United States, has mostly operated in food courts since 1987 but expanded to include store fronts in 2008.

The Flushing branch opened Aug. 1, at 133-38 Whitestone Expwy., becoming the first store front location in Queens and adding to the food court option that already exists in Queens Center. An additional Sarku Japan store front will soon open on Junction Boulevard.

Xie said customers are happy to have the Whitestone Expressway location.

“A lot of the customers, they come and they say it’s very convenient for them,” she said. “They don’t have to go to the mall anymore.”

She said she and her husband and brother, who financed the branch and are also managers, have been loyal Sarku Japan customers for years. She said they would go out to eat the food together “all of the time.”

“I love this food,” she said. “I went to the mall and I have tried this food and then I love it.”

She said later when they saw a sticker outside of the food court inviting people to become franchisees, they jumped on the opportunity.

Customer Willie Mejia, who owns a few autoblast companies in Brooklyn and lives in the Bronx, said he goes out of his way to go to the Sarku Japan branch in Flushing “almost every day.”

“It tastes more fresh,” he said. “Even though you have to wait a while for them to prepare it, you don’t mind waiting because it’s so good.”

He said he even brings his employees to the store sometimes.

“I try not to eat all day just so I can eat here, the food is that good,” he said.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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