After months of having locals peer inside the front door during renovations, East Gate Chinese & Japanese Restaurant in Verona finally opened in February.
The restaurant, which took 15 months to unveil, is located near the southern end of Route 23 on Bloomfield Avenue, a prime traffic area.
“That’s why we’re here,” said owner Yuk Chan. “It (the location) gets no better.”
Open for lunch and dinner Sunday through Saturday, the restaurant is a nice, peaceful contrast to busy Bloomfield Avenue right outside the front window.
The cute BYOB offers “All You Can Eat” sushi and kitchen fare menus on weekdays for $19.95, and on weekends for $21.95. The price for children under 10 is $10.95. Lunch Special Rolls with offerings like Spicy Crab, Futo Make and more are priced at two rolls for $8, three rolls for $11, with miso soup included.
“Around here there are so many Japanese restaurants, but they don’t do my style,” said Chan of the “All You Can Eat” concept. “You can choose a buffet or sit down, but if you do it this way, when you order it, you always get it fresh.”
Glenn and Jennifer Vogel, 14-year Verona residents, dined at the restaurant for the first time recently.
“It’s a family-friendly restaurant with healthy eating. That’s huge to me,” said Jennifer.
Lou Gencarelli, owner of Hardbodyz Fitness located directly across the street, said he's been coming in almost daily. As a personal trainer, he said the health benefits of sushi are important to him.
“It’s great. The sushi is always fresh,” he said enjoying an Edison Roll of shrimp tempura with spicy tuna on the inside and spicy crab on the outside.
“It’s very convenient for me,” said Kathy Pyskio, who works right next door at the Classic Look Salon and, like Gencarelli, strolls over regularly to the restaurant. “The food is very good and healthy.”
It’s the hospitality that has made Morristown resident Sabriya Abdul-Hakim, in town for bartender training, fall in “love” with the restaurant. The self-proclaimed “Sushi Snob” ordered a Sweetheart roll on her first trip, which doesn’t appear on the menu; sushi chef Johnny Lin made it anyway.
And when she entered, servers Vivien Guo and Ting Ting Wang were there to greet her with smiles.
“I worked in the hospitality industry a long time, and that’s why I like good service. It makes the experience great," she said. “When I came in yesterday, they all smiled—it almost feels like home.”
Her lunch for the day? A Kane salad and Kamikaze roll of spicy tuna, eel and shrimp tempura. "The plate was so pretty, I went ‘Oh my goodness!'”
East Gate Chinese & Japanese Restaurant, 144 Bloomfield Ave., Verona, 973-857-2780.