Photo: The name is over the front door of the new restaurant in Cushing Square.
The Japanese phrase “Hanami” translates to “cherry blossom viewing,” which many Japanese do in April enjoying the transient beauty of the flowers which last no more than a week.
And that is what Jack Sy wants customers of his new restaurant Hanami to do; take in the atmosphere of the food and the surroundings at Cushing Square’s newest eatery, scheduled to open on May 15 pending approval from the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.
Sy, along with his attorney and business partner, came before the Select Board this past Monday requesting a full liquor license for the new establishment, which was unanimously approved. Days later, the restaurant’s name was hung on the lintel over the store front.
It’s been a bit of an adventure preparing the space for opening since Sy signed the lease in April 2022. Construction started in July last year, “but then we had a lot of issues with the contractors that held us back a little bit. It’s something you would expect during a period of pandemic as everyone was fighting over contractors,” said Sy.
The location has been the home of five and dime store for nearly 90 years. It first operated as a Ben Franklin franchise beginning in the 1930s before changing its name to Hollingsworth 5 and 10 in 2014, and finally as Belmont 5 and 10 before closing for good in August 2021.
Sy, a former financial analyst turned restauranteur who owns a number of eateries including the popular Number 1 Taste Chinese Food takeout also located on Trapelo Road.
The menu will include high-quality sushi and traditional Japanese dishes like Katsudon (pork cutlet rice bowl), Ramen noodles and Teppanyaki (sizzling hot plates) to your table. (Think Netflix’s ”Midnight Diner”.)
“It’s just not the sushi. I like sushi but then there’s time where I just want something cooked. Something delicious, something hot. Street food kind of cuisine.”
Diners shouldn’t be surprised finding creative tapas-styled dishes on the menu. Sy recently spent two weeks in Barcelona discovering many tapas bars have incorporated Asia spices and ingredients that are mixed in their seafood items, such as Japanese peppers mixed with calamari.