Sushi lovers in the metro area will soon have a new restaurant option nearby.
Nhinjo Sushi and Grill, 12301 S. Western Ave., is set to open in early November.
The restaurant will be an express version of Mary and Kang Nhin's Nhinja Sushi restaurants, offering a slightly smaller layout, ordering either through a kiosk, employee or drive-through, lower pricing and a few more health-conscious items, including some vegetarian and vegan options. The restaurant is also adding other new offerings, such as grilled teriyaki chicken, said Mary Nhin, Nhinja Sushi marketing director and wife of CEO Kang Nhin.
Nhinjo Sushi offerings include sushi, Chinese wok'd items, salads and kid's items.
"I believe now is the right time to share sushi with the masses," Kang Nhin said.
Mary Nhin said the couple has been working on the sister concept since opening Nhinja Sushi in 2016, which has five locations in northern Oklahoma. The Nhinjo restaurant will have 200 square feet less than the Nhinjas, which have 2,2,00 square feet.
In addition to the Western Avenue location, located near Westmoore High School, the couple plans on opening four more Nhinjo locations, including Norman in 2020, Midwest City and two other unspecified locations, she said.
The couple has been in the restaurant business since 2005, when they opened Kang's Asian Bistro, a fine dining restaurant. In 2016, they were converted to Nhinja Sushi restaurants.
"With three young boys at home, we battled whether this was the right route for us and prayed for eight years," Kang Nhin said.
Mary Nhin said the concept for Nhinja Sushi came to them around 2006. The couple brought their toddler boys to their restaurant and felt uncomfortable. Thinking other families might feel the same way, they decided to open a less formal restaurant atmosphere that was more family friendly and faster-paced. Nhinja Sushi opened in 2010.
The couple, which has been married for 23 years, has three boys: Michael, 22, Joseph, 14, and Kobe, 13. Their restaurant names thus far have come from family members. Kang's was named after the founder, Nhinja is Michael's nickname, which he gained because of his speed, and Nhinjo is the middle child's nickname. Kobe is the name of a sushi roll at their restaurants.
Mary Nhin said they signed the contract for Nhinjo Sushi and May and they are finishing the construction phase soon.
She said they have received requests to expand down toward Moore and Norman for five years, and they're finally making their way down to central Oklahoma.
"We're very fortunate. Oklahomans have treated us very well. Ethnic foods are much more well received now," she said, noting that sushi has became mainstream.
Kang Nhin migrated to Oklahoma from China when he was 3 years old and grew up with Cantonese cooking. Mary Nhin said he loves to serve and has said he was born to cook and enjoys inventing new recipes. He also studied in Japanese culinary training stateside.
Though Kang was born overseas, she said their family has deep roots in Oklahoma and has been very supportive of their efforts. They have lived in Edmond since 1996
"A lot of people think it gets easier," she said, adding that they have already have a customer-base, third-party contacts, vendors and other elements. However, they have a lot of employees. "It's a hard responsibility, and it gets harder."
Mary Nhin said she feels the greatest reward when she hears parents talk about introducing their children to sushi and other food their not accustomed to for the first time. The couple tries to make sushi items user friendly and the restaurant more attractive to children.
"Having someone enjoy your food is one of the best things you can receive," she said.
When the family goes to other restaurants, she said they are not picky and are more empathetic and forgiving of mistakes.
Also they have developed an abundant mindset, meaning there's enough customers to go around, building the framework for sushi becoming mainstream.
"About five to 10 years ago, it was a fad, like froyo," she said. Now, it's here to stay.
Mary Nhinjo said they are currently hiring new employees for Nhinjo Sushi. For more information, visit nhinjo.com.
Jamie BerryFollow me @JamieStitches13jberry@normantranscript.com