Sushi Joa

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7th Heaven Roll | Photo credit: Sushi Joa

Since 2009, Kaye and Richard Kim’s understated sushi shop has been as cool a breath of fresh air that greets customers when they enter. Richard, trained in Korea as a Japanese chef, uses his passion for food to write the recipes for everything – right down to the sauces – made in house. Meanwhile, Kaye uses her accounting expertise to keep the place running smoothly. It’s a whole family affair – their son also works at the Kirkland location, and they chose Mercer Island for their location because at the time, Richard’s parents lived here.

Sushi Joa restaurant interior | Photo credit: Sushi Joa / Facebook

While more than half their business comes in for the tender, impeccable salmon and other sushi and sashimi, Kaye says that they get a lot of people ordering the be-bim-bop – the menu’s nod to the Kim’s Korean heritage – with vegetables and meat over steamed rice with an egg and spicy sauce.

The food comes to the sushi counter or dozen-ish tables with friendly shouts from behind the bar, the light walls and darks chairs and accents lending an air of sophistication despite the humble strip-mall façade. While sushi standards do the heavy lifting on the menu, it’s some of the fun twists and turns of the menu that set it apart, such as the Sunshine – a California roll topped with seared salmon, sweet sauce, and spicy mayo. Affordable lunch dishes and the always-popular bento combination (tempura, rice, salad, soup, and a choice of main for under $15) make it a friendly stop for lunch, but the strong sake menu, complete with glossary and helpful guides, mean that it can easily work for more elegant evenings.

Sushi Joa is located at 2717 78th Ave SE, Mercer Island, WA. Learn more at

Written by Naomi Tomky