New name, same menu: local sushi restaurant makes minor change


“What’s in a name? What we call a rose by another name would smell just as good.

– William Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet)

This is the case for Haru Sushi at 433 Amsterdam Avenue at 81st Street. Part of the Benihana catering company, its name changed last week from Haru Sushi to RA Sushi, another restaurant in Benihana’s portfolio, a restaurant representative told ILTUWS. While keeping everything else the same: same staff, same hours, same menu.

ILTUWS visited RA Sushi, still at 433 Amsterdam on Sunday evening and noticed new signage on the doors, the patricians on the sidewalk and inside on the walls where the RA logo was prominently displayed. The take-out menus were also ready to be accompanied by the new RA branding.

RA Sushi

RA Sushi Upper West Side

As usual, RA Sushi’s specialty rolls look particularly appetizing, just like before. Take the Hell’s Kitchen Roll, for example, with crunchy salmon, cucumber, lemon-chili mayonnaise, topped with salmon, avocado, tobiko caviar, and Sriracha; served with lemon-chili mayo and Sriracha flames for $ 17.40.

There is (still) a nice selection of drinks to put out that fire too. RA likes to tout his signature Shiro Sangria with rosé wine that is tossed with Junmai sake and lychee puree for $ 11 a glass. Wine, hot sake and Japanese beer including Sapporo, Kirin Ichiban and Hitachino complete the drink menu. We recommend the Mochi Green Tea Ice Cream for dessert.

RA Sushi also offers daily specials until 3 p.m. Featured are bento boxes, sashimi and sushi specialties, a mix of tempura, and spicy chili-garlic shrimp, among others.

RA’s parent company, Benihana Inc. was founded in 1964 on West 56th Street by Hiroaki “Rocky” Aoki, the father of the hugely popular DJ. Steve aoki, and Devon Aoki, actress and model. Hiroaki was an amateur wrestler who qualified for the Summer 1960 Olympics in Rome, Italy, but chose not to attend so they could launch the first Benihana restaurant with just $ 10,000 to its name. He earned the money driving an ice cream truck in Harlem. That $ 10,000 would equal $ 83,444 in 2020. Benihana’s head office is now in Aventura, Florida.

Unlike its parent company, which is known the world over for its dishes prepared in theater with a knife, telling jokes to chefs; RA Sushi and Haru Sushi do not have hibachi. RA Sushi is based in Scottsdale, Arizona, while Haru Sushi is based in New York.

Benihana has featured in a few TV and film classics. In season three of Office, main character Michael Scott was recovering from a breakup so Jim, Andy and Dwight took him to Benihana to cheer him up.

At Martin Scorsese Wolf on Wall Street, Leonardo Di Caprio’s character, Jordan Belfort, ends up being arrested by the Feds after having “cleaned up” his life for two years in a strange chain of bad luck. “It had nothing to do with me. Something about laundering drug money through offshore boat races and a guy named Rocky Aoki. -Jordanie Belfort

Yes, Rocky Aoki, who passed away in 2008, was a huge fan of cocaine, boats, flashy suits and adventure sports. His death was the result of hepatitis which resulted from a blood transfusion following a 1979 speedboat accident under the Golden Gate Bridge. Angelo Gordon is now the owner of the company after buying Benihana in 2012.

“These violent pleasures have violent ends.”

– William Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet)

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