Food Notes: Wasabi opens on the Bench

doland@idahostatesman.comMay 9, 2014 

The Boise Bench has a new sushi restaurant. Wasabi recently opened in the former Sono Bana space at 303 N. Orchard St.

First-time restaurant owners Sukie and Hee "James" Cheong came from San Diego to purchase the business from Yuki Hagino a few months ago.

Both Sukie and James have worked in sushi restaurants and bars for many years and decided it was time to own their own place. When Sukie found Sono Bana for sale online, they made the move to Idaho, she says.

They've given the space a new look, and they're in the process of developing their signature rolls and traditional dishes, Sukie says.

Once they secure a beer and wine license they plan to expand their offerings, Sukie says.

Wasabi is open 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. for lunch and 5-9 p.m. for dinner Mondays-Fridays, 5-9:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Phone: 323-8822.


Simple Sushi is closed and its former space at 1214 1st St. South in Nampa will be filled by a second location for growler filling station Pre Funk Beer Bar, a business based in Downtown Boise at 1100 W. Front St.

Owners Jordan and Justin Flynn will partner with their new Nampa neighbor Messenger Pizza for food and will operate 30 taps. Nampa's Pre Funk should be open by July 1, Jordan says. The brothers also have a Meridian location in the works. Online:


Grimaldi's Pizzeria, a chain that makes New York-style pizza, will open in The Village at Meridian this summer.

The operation started in Brooklyn, where Frank Ciolli first developed his hand-built, hand-tossed pizzas and house-made calzones that are baked in a coal-fired brick oven.

His son Joe attended Arizona State University and decided to expand the concept across country from Scottsdale. This will be the national chain's first Idaho location. Online:


Aaron Wermerskirchen, formerly of Red Feather Lounge and The Matador, will head the kitchen at Juniper, a new locally owned restaurant going into the former Cazba space at 211 N. 8th St.

It should be open by mid-June, co-owner Kacey Montgomery says.

Wermerskirchen and Montgomery are developing a chef's table program. The table that will seat 10 is made of juniper pine. You can reserve seasonal five-course meals. Online:


• This year's Culinary Walkabout will bring a near record number of chefs together for the annual Metro Meals on Wheels benefit.

This year, 25 chefs from Idaho's American Culinary Federation chapter Chefs de Cuisine will create and serve small-plate dishes for you to sample as you walk about the ballroom.

Jazz big band Boise Straight Ahead will provide the music. There will be a silent auction, chef's raffle and a friendly competition for Best Dish.

It's all from 6 to 9 p.m. May 14 at the Boise Centre, 850 W. Front St. Tickets are $50 general, $500 for a table of 10 at 321-0031 or

• There are a limited number of Savor Idaho tickets available, and the event tends to sell out.

From 2 to 6 p.m. June 8, you can taste your way from Snake River to Pend d'Oreille and back again while you stroll through the Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 Old Penitentiary Road, Boise.

This year you'll find a new Idaho Preferred area in the meditation garden that will highlight the organization's food and wine members.

This year's wineries include Cinder, Hat Ranch, Huston, Split Rail, Telaya, Terra Nativa, Koenig and more. You'll find food from the Boise Co-op, Bardenay, Angell's Renato, Castle Ranch Steakhouse, City Peanut and other area restaurants, shops and caterers.

And if you get tired of wine, Payette Brewing will be there to help you out with beer.

Find a complete list of wineries and food vendors online. Tickets are $45 at and include a souvenir glass and plate.


Lucky Fins Seafood Grill's chef Mark Ballen recently won top honors at the Northern Colorado Top Chef Contest. Ballen is the chef at all the Lucky Fins, including one in Greeley, Colo.

The event is a fundraiser for A Kids Place, a shelter and child advocacy center in Greeley. Ballen won for best flavor profile and the overall top honors at the sold-out event.

You can catch him next week at the Culinary Walkabout.

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