The family-run restaurant chain Cho Cho San is celebrating the grand opening of its fifth location, in Encino.
Cho Cho San moved into the space formerly occupied by Chili My Soul, at Balboa and Ventura boulevards, three weeks ago. Chili My Soul never reopened after its owner Randy Hoffman died in June 2009.
“It’s just a little sushi bar, but it’s one of the oldest Japanese restaurants on Ventura Boulevard,” said Cho Cho San's president, Hiroshi Kawashima, referring to the original location in Tarzana. The chain has expanded during the last 29 years to several sites in the Greater Los Angeles area.
“[We’ve seen] kids that were coming to Tarzana 25 years ago, and now their kids come in,” Kawashima said.
The new restaurant features a 24-seat sushi bar and a 50-seat dining room. By contrast, the Tarzana restaurant, known for its revolving sushi bar and teppanyaki, has a limited capacity of 36 seats.
The family had always wanted to open a restaurant in the Encino area, but had a hard time finding sufficient parking for their clientele, Kawashima said.
Since opening, business at the Encino location has fluctuated, he said.
“It’s been up and down,” said Kawashima. “Yesterday was very busy.”
What sets Cho Cho San apart from the 70 or so other sushi restaurants found on Ventura is the standard the family upholds in the food they serve, Kawashima said.
“You’ll get a very high-quality product for a very reasonable price,” he said.
Kawashima claims his restaurants are the cheapest of the high-quality sushi bar restaurants out there, and says his prices are 30 to 40 percent lower than his competitors'.
Aside from affordability, the variety of dishes on Cho Cho San’s 14-page menu also sets it apart from the crowd.
The sushi bar offers 70 rolls on its menu and has 20 to 30 rolls available off menu that are usually specially ordered by regulars who have been visiting the business for decades.
For non-sushi fans, Cho Cho San also serves beef, grilled salmon, tempuras and a number of salads.
Guests will find a wide variety of draft beers at the Encino spot, including Fat Tire, Sam Adams Lager, Sam Adams Seasonal, Miller Lite and Sapporo and Asahi on tap. Kawashima keeps the prices for his beers under $5, and offers Kendall Jackson wines and both filtered and unfiltered sakes.
Cho Cho San, 4928 Balboa Blvd., Encino. Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m.–1:30 a.m.; Saturday, noon–1:30 a.m.