LATHROP – At first glance Amici Sushi looks like the trendy upscale eatery you’d find in San Francisco or New York.
And that’s just the look that owner Son Chi Ta was looking for when he set out to create a restaurant that offered ambiance and style to serve not only as a place for his customers to eat but as a backdrop for an overall experience.
It’s something that he’s wanted to do ever since he landed his first restaurant job when he was in college.
“I’ve always had a passion for the food industry, and I believe that sushi itself is an art. I really love art so I wanted to combine the two,” Ta said. “I live here in Lathrop. This is my hometown. I wanted to create something that people would expect to find in the city but have it be right here.
“I want this restaurant to be a place that people remember after they come eat here.”
The start contrast between the pure-white furniture and the jet-black walls is no accident. With Ta’s training in architecture, he set out to create something that is contrasting yet simple and wanted to blur the lines with the smoke-colored floor that helps tie everything together.
Hand-painted works adorn the walls, and the menus themselves pay tribute to the concept of simple elegance – staying in-line with the black-and-while theme while at the same time carrying the downward-facing koi fish that Ta has adopted as his restaurant’s symbol.
“Some people say that it means bad luck, but in my opinion it’s something that show’s aggressiveness – the willingness to take chances,” he said. “It’s a fish that’s going down after something instead of coming back up to the surface. It shows passion, and that’s why I wanted to use that.”
And then there are the real fish and seafood that help make-up the cuisine that the restaurant itself is becoming known for.
While traditional sushi staples are available, Ta gets special orders of exotic fish every week which he uses to create unique offerings like barracuda and flying fish. It helps add to the cutting-edge modernity he’s marketing in everything from the young staff to the ornate bowls and plates that food is served on.
“You don’t have to be in the city to enjoy a restaurant like this,” Ta said. “We know how to eat too, and we don’t need anybody to introduce it to us. People would ask me why I would invest in something like this in a small town and my response is that a customer is a customer – they’re all important to me and they’re all equal.
“I want to bring the upper level of the seafood industry to Lathrop, and show the art that is sushi. It’s all about the presentation.”