Sushi lovers have known for years that there’s something missing on Creston menus — but that recently changed, when Savvy Sushi started up last month. Now, a half-dozen varieties are made daily, offering a fresh sampling of the taste many have been craving.
“I’ve always liked feeding people — good food, good friends,” said owner Sandra Heykamp.
And when it comes to good food, she’s been hooked on sushi since the first time she tried it as a 19-year-old on a trip to Creston’s Japanese sister city, Kaminoho.
“Coming back to Creston, there isn’t any here,” she said. “So I taught myself to make it.”
Rice, veggies and meat wrapped in seaweed sounds like it should be simple, but it requires a lot of practice to get it right; veggies, for example, need to be sliced just right so everything fits. Heykamp found tips and recipes online to help her get started, but found that one aspect is key.
“Sushi needs to be made daily in order to remain fresh and have the rice remain soft,” she said. “It needs to be made and eaten the same day.”
Her kids and family loved it, but making the rolls is a lengthy process.
“With them always wanting it, and with it not being available, whenever we’re out of town, we always have sushi,” said Heykamp.
She first sold it at her parents’ Garden Bakery, which closed in 2006, making small batches of only 10 rolls at a time. As she’s become more experienced, the process has gotten quicker, and can now make about 90 rolls in six hours.
Savvy Sushi runs from the Living Rock Café kitchen, and the product is sold at the 1607 Canyon St. location. Heykamp’s mom, Connie, joins her in making sushi rolls including veggie, prawn, teriyaki chicken and smoked salmon, as well as weekly specials.
About 20 per cent of the people she talks to haven’t tried sushi, Heykamp said. Their reason?
“So many people think sushi is raw fish,” she said.
It isn’t — that would be sashimi, which isn’t limited to seafood — but the chicken and veggie rolls are good starters for the uninitiated.
To help make her sushi as appealing as possible, Heykamp makes it the Western way, with rice coating the outside of the nori, the seaweed wrap that holds it all together. That way, the nori isn’t the first thing diners taste.
“When it’s on the inside, that taste is more mellow,” she said.
For those who don’t like the taste of nori, Heykamp does special orders with soy wraps.
Speaking of special orders, Savvy Sushi offers “a new twist on ordering takeout,” Heykamp said — orders texted to 250-402-9917 by 9:30 a.m. will be ready for pickup later that morning.
For anyone wishing to try everything Savvy Sushi has to offer, Heykamp is hosting An Evening of Indulgence on May 11, which features $20 all-you-can-eat sushi rolls, along with music by the Velle Weitman Trio. (For more information, find Savvy Sushi on Facebook.)
Heykamp, who started Savvy Sushi with the help of Community Futures and Kootenay Employment Services, has been enjoying her job immensely. Not only does her schedule allow the single mother to spend time with her kids after school, she appreciates the chance to bring Creston up to the culinary level of other nearby towns.
“In Creston it’s special, but pretty much everywhere else you go, there’s a sushi restaurant,” she said. “It’s a healthy choice in fast food.”