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Sushi, Suds and Samples

Openings, reopenings, closings and plenty of brews news


After almost 30 years in operation, owners of Orchard Street sushi spot SonoBana (formerly Tsuru) sold the business at 303 N. Orchard St. The restaurant's new Korean owners, Sukie and Hee Cheong, have given the dated space a modernized makeover--with a new indoor and outdoor paint job, new decor and a new name: Wasabi Japanese Cuisine.

"I came from San Diego, so San Diego is too much competition and too expensive and too much in rent money, so I just wanted to go out of the state so I picked Boise," explained Sukie, who owned another Japanese restaurant in San Diego. "Then I saw on the Internet that they were selling this business."

Wasabi has retained servers and cooks from SonoBana, but Hee is now the sushi chef. The menu has also been slimmed down substantially, with a standard selection of sushi, sashimi and specialty rolls, along with teriyaki, yakisoba and udon. In addition, there are a few new Korean specialties on the menu, including bulgogi (tangy marinated beef), Korean-style spicy seafood ramen, and kalbi (Korean barbecue ribs.)

For more info on Wasabi, call 208-323-8822.

And speaking of sushi, there's some sad news for fresh fish lovers in Nampa: sustainable sushi hub Simple Sushi shut its doors at 1214 First St. S. in mid-February. The restaurant served Monterey Bay Aquarium "Good Choice" fish species that had been flown in fresh from Hawaii. According to co-owner Tracy Volpi, the sushi spot closed down after three years so that she could spend more time with her family.

"Although we are currently busier than we have ever been, running the restaurant is taking away from my biggest passion on this earth, my family," Volpi wrote on Facebook. "I have met so many wonderful people and made some lasting friendships that I will cherish. I love what we do at Simple, and maybe we will do it again in the future."

But there's some good news for craft beer lovers: Pre Funk Beer Bar and growler fill station announced it's opening a second location in the former Simple Sushi space.

"Growth in Nampa has been pretty big the last few years. Looking around at the historic downtown area, especially, things are starting to come back to life and people are looking for a place to hang out in Nampa and that's what we want to do," said Ryan Driscoll, part owner of the Nampa Pre Funk.

Though the new space will be smaller than the Boise Pre Funk location at 1100 W. Front St.--with its roll-up garage doors and bustling patio--it will still feature 30 taps and a similar laid-back vibe with a concrete bar, exposed brick and old barn wood.

"We're hoping to be open by July 1," said Driscoll. "We just want to bring the same craft beer message that we've done at the Boise location and do that in Nampa. We think people are ready for it up there."

In other Pre Funk news, employee Derek Anderson has signed on to be the head brewer at Meridian's newest nano-brewery, Haff Brewing. Anderson previously worked as the head brewer at TableRock and as an assistant brewer at The RAM.

According to Haff Brewing's Facebook page, the brewery is in the final stages of securing a Meridian location.

For more info on Haff Brewing, call 208-830-0441.

And in other craft booze news, the Garden City Library is hosting the third annual Artistic Taste of Garden City Sunday, May 4, from 2-5 p.m. at the Riverside Hotel at 2900 W. Chinden Blvd.

In addition to showcasing artwork from more than 10 local artists, the event will feature live music from Tom Taylor and a community address by Garden City Mayor John Evans. Craft beer purveyors Crooked Fence Brewing and Payette Brewing Co. will be slinging samples of their brews, while Split Rail Winery, Coiled Wines, Hat Ranch Winery and Telaya Winery will serve up wine samples. Snacks will be provided by City Peanut Shop, Uncle Giuseppe's, Steph's Seriously Good Salsa and Homemade by Dorothy. The event costs $18 in advance or $25 at the door, and proceeds benefit the Garden City Library Foundation.

"It's a fun event with breweries and food and wine and music and art, but I do think it's important that people know it's for a really good cause and that the Garden City Library is a pretty important part of the community," explained organizer Tara Hamilton. "It has the highest penetration of residents using the library per capita in the state--about 60 percent of residents."

Hamilton hopes this event will help illuminate the importance of the Garden City Library and showcase the changing face of Garden City.

"This is only the third year, but there's a very strong desire to reshape Garden City's image and to highlight the fact that there is arts and culture and all of that in Garden City, and there's a different side to it than just the 10,000-foot view that everyone seems to have," said Hamilton.

For more info on An Artistic Taste of Garden City, visit