Sooji Shin says her father, Eddie Lee, has worked with fish for 25 years, first in their family’s hometown of Busan, South Korea, and then stateside in California and Las Vegas.
Now he creates sushi in his Japanese and Korean restaurant, Kinja, tucked in the corner of the Dollar Tree shopping center on North Division Street. Shin helps her parents with the family-run business and is learning how to make sushi herself.
“I wasn’t good the first time,” Shin says, adding that it’s hard to make the shape because it has to come out pretty.
Her family moved to Spokane and opened Kinja a few months ago after running a restaurant of the same name in Tacoma for four years. Shin says Koreans made up much of their customer base in Tacoma, but here in Spokane, the clientele has been mostly Americans, many of them still figuring out the sushi game.
“A lot of customers come in, but they don’t know how to eat sushi,” she says. “But I just want them to enjoy it.”
She recommends the Jane Roll to diners who aren’t regular sushi eaters, and she says they usually like it and even come back for more.
The Jane Roll — shrimp tempura and crab topped with spicy tuna, sauce and crunch — is one among many of the items on the conveyor belt that rolls plates of sushi, fried seafood and desserts ($1.50-$4.50) around the seating area.
Shin says the belt provides a good opportunity to get sushi to people, but no one is ever forced to eat sushi because there are a variety of other foods — fried or cooked — on the belt or the regular menu.
The meat lover can order the teriyaki beef, which Shin says is her mom’s (Sophia Lee) specialty, or spicy pork and chicken. A bento box (a $10 Japanese lunch box) comes with a choice of meat along with rice, salad and a side option such as gyoza (pot stickers). Vegetable dishes are also available for vegetarians.
Right now the bulk of the cuisine is Japanese, but Shin says the Korean menu will grow in the near future. And their liquor license was approved a couple weeks ago, so now you can sip some sake, beer or wine with your sushi.
Kinja Japanese and Korean Restaurant • 7458 N. Division St. • Mon-Sat 11 am-9 pm • 474-9276