If you are a foodie looking for history in the heart of Westchester, look no further than Azuma Sushi of Hartsdale, the county's first sushi restaurant.
While the sushi craze did not pick up until the 1990s, owner Tony Saegusa opened his eatery in 1983 near the train station. Saegusa has since seen familiar faces stop by for the ultra-fresh seafood, and has become acquainted with three generations of some of the families that flock to his restaurant.
"Most of the fun is to see the kids grow up and still come back," said Saegusa. "They become teenagers, go to high school and college, get married and maybe move away. But they come back. It's a family history. When I see those occasions, it's the happiest moment for me."
With appetizers as their specialty, Azuma Sushi offer some plates that few other restaurants do, such as monkfish liver, sea bream and chopped tuna belly tartar, which is an American favorite. As they prepare their seafood seasonally, winter fare includes big oysters from the West Coast and sweet shrimp from Nova Scotia; while the summer brings in local bonito.
"It's very good quality that we serve to the customers," said Mr. Saegusa. "We can show them when the seasons change and what's fresh. We try to keep up with the seasonal fish."
The dinner rush keeps them busy as tables fill up, and many Manhattan commuters call from the train to order a takeout meal for dinner.
When Azuma Sushi first opened, over 60 percent of their customers were Asian. Now, however, roughly 80 percent of their clientele is American. While Azuma Sushi caters to the large Asian population in Hartsdale, they compete with several recently-opened sushi and Asian-oriented restaurants on Central Avenue.
"There are so many great restaurants in Westchester," said Saegusa. "Some of them have 30 or 40 years of history, and we are proud to be one of them."
Have you eaten at Azuma Sushi? Do you enjoy seasonal food?