The art of handcrafting sushi continues to evolve at Sushi Hama, Qualicum Beach’s newest fusion japanese eatery.
The restaurant is nestled in the town’s quaint Chilham Village and owner B.J. Eom officially opened the doors in May.
Eom, 35, the culinary mastermind behind the creative cuisine, said his menu is always changing — depending on the season, what kind of fresh ingredients he can get his hands onto and the tastebuds of his clientele.
“I always like to try new things,” he said, bringing out a majestic wooden sushi boat dotted with bright red salmon sashimi, cucumber sunomono and hand-pressed sushi that comes in the form of rectangular boxes instead of the more common rolls.
Eom has been in the industry for more than 15 years, boasting extensive culinary experience from many different parts of the world. He has a self-proclaimed love affair with food and admits that while he initially wasn’t a fan of Western cuisine, he’s recently developed a soft spot for hamburgers and pizza.
“I’ve gained 50 pounds since being in North America,” he laughed, rubbing his stomach.
Eom said his interest in international food provides inspiration for many of his less-traditional dishes, such as his personal favourite: a simple California roll topped with charcoal-seared salmon.
Transitioning to Qualicum Beach, Eom said, has been “challenging.” He said he didn’t know much about the town and wound up here by way of a quick Craigslist search for rentable business spaces.
Once Eom secured the 563-square-foot space, he packed his bags and went out on a limb.
“People say I’m crazy,” he said, chuckling. “I figure I have a skill and I want to make people good food — if they’re happy, I’m happy.”
Eom, who has a wife and four-year-old daughter back in Japan, said he wanted to relocate to a family-orientated community as he plans on bringing his family over to Canada someday.
He said he’s learned a lot about Canadian culture since his arrival in February — mostly from the high school students he employed over the summer and the people who come to eat at Sushi Hama.
“Canada is nice. It’s a very peaceful country especially compared to the States,” he said. “And the students (who work here) are so smart and diligent and responsible — they make me want to live here.”
Eom said he uses fresh, local ingredients in all of his dishes — but most importantly he loves presentation.
“It (sushi) is pretty compared to other food if you spend the time on it,” he said, pointing to a handmade swan crafted out of apple slices, a flower cut from a cucumber and an umbrella made out of an orange. The decorative, eatable and healthy pieces of art are a big part of Eom’s cooking style, giving each dish a unique flare.
Sushi Hama — Hama means beach in Japanese — is open Monday to Saturday from 11.30 a.m. to 8.30 p.m. and it’s located at 221 Second Avenue in Qualicum Beach. For more information stop by or call 250-594-9961.