Recently opened Yeah Sushi offers whimsical take on Japanese staple

Yuyuan Jiang worked as a sushi chef for eight years, serving up the Japanese delicacy in Houston, Palm Springs, New Orleans, Miami, New York City, and even a stint in Korea — both North and South.

Now, he's rolling up (that's my attempt at a sushi joke) everything he learned from those experiences into his new restaurant, Yeah Sushi, which opened in late May at The Malls Shopping Center along 23rd Street.

Sandwiched between Westlake Ace Hardware and Radio Shack, the compact eatery at 711 W. 23rd St. offers more than 50 varieties of sushi, plus soups, salads and appetizers such as edamame and fried calamari.

Customers are often “surprised” when they first see their order arrive on the table, Jiang says — and for good reason.

“I haven’t seen anything like this in Lawrence,” he says. “Or the state.”

Each dish involves the kind of colorful, elaborate presentation Jiang picked up during his time on the coasts, with sauces carefully applied to the plate to create whimsical designs (fish are a recurring motif) and glowing LED lights to brighten up the food.

That’s the case with Yeah Sushi’s Sweetheart Roll: each bundle of tuna, shrimp tempura, crab meat and cucumber is wrapped in pink soybean paper and rolled into a heart shape. It’s served with a martini glass filled with pink LED lights, and nothing else.

Jiang says he bought the former Thai House space (its owners were retiring, he says) in the hope that his unusual creations would bring in college students. So far, business has been slow, but Jiang is optimistic that it'll pick up when classes resume in August.

In the meantime, he’ll continue offering lunch specials every day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We’re not busy, but every customer who comes here to eat — they’ll be back,” Jiang says. “Right now, we just need more customers.”

Yeah Sushi is open 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

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