The Man Who Built Little Tokyo

Photo: Melissa Hom

With all the hype surrounding David Chang’s colonization of the East Village, it’s easy to forget that his fiefdom is far from the largest one. Indeed, today the Epoch Times profiles “successful, low-key entrepreneur Mr. Yagi” (a man so low-key he apparently didn’t give the reporter his first name, which is Bon). Mr. Yagi opened his first sushi restaurant, Hasaki, on East 9th Street in 1984 and now owns eleven establishments — most notably, Decibel, Sakagura, Soba-Ya, Rai Rai Ken, and, more recently, Robataya. Yagi got a job as a short-order cook after immigrating to the U.S., then traveled the world and made enough money as a jewelry-maker in Japan before he returned to New York to open a restaurant with Wakayama, who now owns Teriyaki Boy. This much is clear: The world of East Village Japanese restaurants is a very small one.

Visionary Japanese Businessman Succeeds in New York [Before It’s News]