Kitchen Nightmares (US) Season 3 Episode 12: Sushi Ko, Thousand Oaks, CA

Kitchen Nightmares (US) Season 3 Episode 12: Sushi Ko, Thousand Oaks, CA - CLOSED

UPDATED : 26 December 2019

In this edition of Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon visits Sushi Ko, Thousand Oaks, CA. This is a sushi restaurant based in California run by award-winning Chef Akira, his wife Lisa and his children. Chef Akira learned how to make sushi in Japan and after that worked in a restaurant with the same name (Sushi Ko) as a sous chef and then as a manager. After a while, Akira and his wife Lisa thought of starting their own restaurant and moved to Thousand Oaks, CA and they opened Sushi Ko. Initially, they got a good response from the community, business was booming but now it has dwindled away. As per owner Lisa, they are losing $15-20,000 each month.

Sushi Ko Thousand Oaks in Kitchen Nightmares
Sushi Ko Thousand Oaks in Kitchen Nightmares

As per Lisa, issues with business has also affected their relationship. They work together, they live together but they do not talk to each other much. The time business got hit, it has turned Akira clueless, he does not know what to do - Lisa adds. Akira’s kids Sammy and Hana are equally worried about his current state, as per them Gordon is their last hope. Gordon arrives at the restaurant and meets Akira and Lisa.

Episode Related Info:
Kitchen Nightmares (US) Season 3 Episode 12
Restaurant Name: Sushi Ko, Thousand Oaks, CA
Filming: May 2009
Air Date: 14 May 2010
Restaurant Close Date: 8 August 2009
Current Status: CLOSED

Is Sushi Ko, Thousand Oaks, CA closed?

Yes, Sushi Ko closed few months after the filming of the episode. They shut down on 8th August 2009.

Food Sampling:

Gordon orders a bowl of Miso soup, Akira’s recommendation sushi pizza, the green tower, and, salmon sashimi. Gordon’s first order miso soup is salty, cold and does not taste fresh. The waitress brings in the second dish, green tower, Gordon finds a hair in it. Salmon sashimi has frozen salmon in it, it is very chewy. Ashleigh brings in the last order, the sushi pizza, Gordon spits it out and calls it an insult to Japanese food.

After tasting the food, Gordon gets up to talk to Akira and the chef. When Gordon tells Akira that there was a hair in his food, Akira acts surprised and tells that he did not know and no one told him. Chef tells Gordon that miso tasted salty because it was made yesterday and it thickened overnight, which surprises Gordon. Gordon again tries to get some reaction out of Akira, but, he just stands there with no words or defense.

Gordon decides to sit down with Akira’s children. They tell him that though they do not want to spend their time in the restaurant, they have no other option than to work here. Sammy tells Gordon that Akira has taken help from him in past and amount that has gone towards business from his side is around $20,000. For a 22-year-old, $20,000 is a big chunk of money, Sammy has earned it via his photography. They tell Gordon that their father has given up, but, he does not show it.

Dinner Service and Kitchen Inspection:

Dinner service starts and customers start ordering the food, Gordon notices skewer sticks with some food on them. When he asks about that, Akira tells him that sometimes they reuse the sticks. They basically clean the sticks, wash them and reuse them. One customer returns the broccoli, Gordon and Lisa taste it and find it mushy.

Gordon then finds out mayonnaise container placed outside refrigeration unit. Upon asking Akira tells him that the need for refrigeration is not mentioned and it has been like this only for four years. The fryer does not work properly and due to this, quality of food is not consistent. Gordon also finds refrigeration unit, which does not work and buckets of ice are placed inside as coolant to keep food fresh. Akira says he does not have money to fix it.

After a bad dinner service, Gordon asks Akira and Lisa about the quick fixes and shortcuts the restaurant is taking. At that moment, Lisa just blasts off, taking jibes on how Akira has lost his way. How Akira opened up the restaurant, but when the restaurant did not do good, Akira is scope-less. Gordon asks Lisa to shut up and requests Akira to say something, Akira, however, stays mum. Gordon is aware that in order to fix the restaurant he needs to fix the family.

The next day, Gordon goes to Akira’s home and meets the family, Akira is out for a walk. He tells Sammy, Hana, and Lisa that they need to bring Akira back and he will need everyone’s help in doing so. Akira comes back from the walk, Gordon asks Sammy to explain how Akira inspire him and he asks Hana to say something that she did not get a chance to in past 4 days. Lisa tells Akira that they need to know each other better and she will be more involved emotionally now on. Akira feels loved and he knows that he has put his family in such condition, he vows to work harder.

Before the dinner service, Gordon shows them the new refrigerator, fryer and walk-in refrigeration unit. Akira cannot believe that he has top line equipment in his kitchen, he is quite happy about it. Gordon tells Akira that he will be cooking for the dinner service, the family is happy to see Akira happy and in chef’s costume. Gordon and Akira prepare two new salmon dishes and feature them as specials for the dinner menu.

Akira starts positively for the dinner service, he is cooking, he is delegating properly, however, Lisa thinks that he is not putting all effort. One customer sends back his order to the kitchen, which gets replaced by Akira, Lisa says Akira needs to try harder. Customers are happy with the food and staff is happy because Akira is in charge of the kitchen. The dinner service ends high. After the dinner service, Gordon congratulates Akira on the positive attitude and a good show. He then talks to Lisa and tells her that changes in Akira are huge but she has not changed a bit. Being Akira’s wife, she should be more appreciative of what Akira has done in a single day.

Relaunch:

Gordon’s team gives a makeover to the restaurant overnight, adding a bit of modern style to the overall vibe. The design team also add the artwork by Akira’s son Sammy. The owners and the staff are blown away by the decor changes and Akira is overwhelmed. Gordon then shows them modern sushi dishes, everyone is excited. For promotion, Gordon organizes a traditional Japanese drum show.

The relaunch night starts well with food leaving the kitchen on time and customers actually enjoying the new dishes. In the mid of the dinner service, Akira gets back to his old habits and starts to moving dishes, waiting tables and moving stuff from here and there. Gordon gives Akira a quick talk telling him he is there to cook and not to work as waiting staff.

Gordon with Akira and family at Sushi Ko in Kitchen Nightmares
Gordon with Akira and family at Sushi Ko in Kitchen Nightmares

Akira gets behind the line and starts to cook the last few dishes in the queue. The dinner service and relaunch are successful. After the dinner service, Gordon tells Akira that he needs to be cooking. Akira and family thank Gordon for all he has done to bring this fragmented family together.

What happened next?

As the episode continues, over next couple of weeks, Akira and the family stayed positive and business is growing. Shushi Ko (Yelp link in resources) is looking for a new place to move due to higher rent at the current location. Yelp reviews after the filming were average. The co-owner and Akira’s wife Lisa thinks that the relaunch was too little too late and that the business had already failed.

Akira’s son Sammy posted following message on his blog regarding the closure of Sushi Ko.

"After four years of being at The Lakes in Thousand Oaks Sushi Ko has shut its doors. We have all tried so hard from the beginning and put in so much effort but it just never worked out. It feels as if we have somewhat lost a part of ourselves, and it is a bitter/sweet ending. Only a few months after we filmed Kitchen Nightmares and all got rejuvenated and excited to be there again, we got the bad news. We all went from being on such a high and happy with the “new” restaurant and then shortly after got pushed to the bottom. Somehow business got worse after we filmed it and the center seemed more deserted then it ever has been.
Partly the economy, and partly ________, it was just not looking good. I am glad I got to go into the kitchen and learn the new menu and how to cook tho, it has been a great experience and I did not want it to stop. We(family) all had to bite our lips and keep it in for a month before we decided what we were going to tell everyone and what we were going to do, and it was really hard emotionally for all of us to go in there day after day knowing it was all going to end. After we started telling people with a month to go we all felt a little better. We decided to close doors to the public on the 8th of August, almost exactly four years after we opened."

Sushi Ko closed few months after the filming of the episode. They shut down on 8th August 2009.

Nate'n Al Delicatessen (Yelp link in the resources) operated at Sushi Ko’s location for some time. Yelp reviews were negative. Unami Burger (Yelp in the resources), a popular burger chain operates for the same location now and reviews are positive.

Lisa (Her part of story in resources) is lastly listed as working as coffee cart operator, she shares what exactly happened before and after kitchen nightmares.

Hana Hatae (Actress profile link in resources) is now blooming her acting career and she has few movies lined up. Samson Hatae (Sam) (Blog link in the resources) has traveled over 25 countries and is living his passion for photography, travel, and surfing. Akira (Work profile in the resources) is working in the service industry and is responsible for packing and shipping of cosmetics to Japan.

Is Sushi Ko, Thousand Oaks, CA closed?

Yes, Sushi Ko closed few months after the filming of the episode. They shut down on 8th August 2009.

 

Resources:

  1. IMDB episode info
  2. Sushi Ko on Yelp
  3. Nate'n Al Delicatessen Yelp
  4. Unami Burger Yelp
  5. Lisa Givner Hatae explains what happened before and after Kitchen Nightmares
  6. Press Release about the Sushi Ko relaunch
  7. Hana (Hana Hatae) on IMDB
  8. Sam's Blog (Samson K Hatae)
  9. Akira's Profile

 

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Episode Related Info:
Kitchen Nightmares (US) Season 3 Episode 12
Restaurant Name: Sushi Ko, Thousand Oaks, CA
Filming: May 2009
Air Date: 14 May 2010
Restaurant Close Date: 8 August 2009
Current Status: CLOSED

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