The only thing Christi and Kou Kue (pronounced "coo") love more than sushi is getting out into the community.
The charms of their little four-seat roving Gohan Sushi Bar are obvious. It’s on wheels, so they serve either indoors or out. Think bachelor and bachelorette parties, weddings, and the like. The guest gets to see their sushi being made, which has always been an important tenet of the delicate culinary tradition. And of course it's going to end up on Instagram.
Why they didn't do a food truck
The Kues met over food. Christi was working at Peoples Organic in downtown Minneapolis, and Kou worked in a food truck. She’d head to his truck, get her lunch, and the rest is love and history.
Christi studied and lived in Japan, and speaks Japanese. Her husband lives and breathes sushi, and has been working in sushi restaurants around town for about a decade, she says. “Our apartment is just full of sushi books and Japanese food. It’s all he thinks about all day long.”
So when it came time for the couple to do the obvious and open a sushi business, they considered a food truck. But Kou was adamant about using as many local ingredients as possible. They also wanted a close connection with their customers and with the community. While a food truck could get them close, it didn’t feel quite close enough. That’s when it hit them: a pop-up sushi bar.
The couple dreamed up the bar, then hired local designers WAAM Industries to create the look, and procured the golden chairs from local furniture store Blu Dot. The all-local-everything is an ideal that shows up in their cooking too – at a recent Linden Hills Farmer’s Market day, all of the produce in their delicious hand rolls came from the market, including the eggs in the tamago (a delicate omelet found in sushi).
What they serve
Expect dainty, yet hearty hand rolls, easy to eat and portable as an ice cream cone, brimming with delectably seasoned fish. (Vegetarian and vegan options are available too.) Or, consider a “hand roll bento box,” which allows 10 to 22 people per box to “roll their own,” so to speak. Christi says this option is popular at bachelorette parties. The gorgeous walnut boxes match that custom pop-up bar, which, by the way, easily rolls in and out of a trailer attached to their pickup truck, and in or out of any standard doorway.
When they first hit the streets with the bar, Christi says the general public was a bit apprehensive.
“People were like ‘I don’t know, can we really sit down?’” Yes, you really can. They were inspired by true street food tradition, with much of the world’s street food offering more of a face-to-face interaction than a food truck experience.
“We really wanted to be able to talk to the customers,” said Christi. And you’ll want to talk to them, too. The only thing more charming than the bar are the Kues themselves.
Experience Gohan on Instagram, and find out where they’ll be popping up next.