Iya Sushi and Noodle Kitchen opens second location in Amherst

  • Andy Yee, right, principal of Bean Restaurant Group, chats with Jarek Przybyla during the grand opening of Iya Sushi and Noodle Kitchen at 1 East Pleasant St. in Amherst on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ariah Dawson prepares a dish at Iya Sushi and Noodle Kitchen in Amherst on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • From top: Cannonball Roll, Bumble Crunch Roll and Classic Tokyo Style Ramen at Iya Sushi and Noodle Kitchen in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Iya Sushi and Noodle Kitchen at 1 East Pleasant St. in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Corey Gold, front, prepares a shrimp tempura roll during at Iya Sushi and Noodle Kitchen in Amherst on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Megan Yee, left, Sonny Wae, Andy Yee and Matt Yee gather during the grand opening of Iya Sushi and Noodle Kitchen at 1 East Pleasant St., Amherst on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Corey Gold, front, prepares a shrimp tempura roll at Iya Sushi and Noodle Kitchen, 1 East Pleasant St., Amherst on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • From top, Cannonball Roll, Bumble Crunch Roll and Classic Tokyo Style Ramen at Iya Sushi and Noodle Kitchen in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • IYA Sushi and Noodle Kitchen at 1 East Pleasant Street in Amherst, Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 8/12/2019 10:31:45 PM

AMHERST — A large illustration of a fish etched into a window and painted fish featured in a colorful wall mural represent the main cuisine served at a new downtown Amherst restaurant.

Iya Sushi and Noodle Kitchen, which specializes in sushi-centric, Asian fusion entrees, has opened on the street level of the One East Pleasant mixed-use building. It’s the 15th restaurant in the region run by the Bean Restaurant Group, whose principal is South Hadley restaurateur Andy Yee.

Yee, who also owns Johnny’s Tavern on Boltwood Walk, said he sees value in opening a second restaurant in the college town.

“The dining scene in Amherst is starting to evolve,” Yee said, adding that the town has a “worldly palate” being met by establishments that go well beyond the cafes, pizza and sub shops and Chinese restaurants that have often defined the community.

In fact, Yee points out that Iya is joining a stretch of restaurants that offer food from around the globe, including Vietnamese, Japanese, Tibetan and Indian cuisine.

“It’s really becoming a foodie paradise, and I’m glad to be part of the scene,” Yee said.

Though the menu will be similar to the existing Iya at the Village Commons in South Hadley, Yee said, it has been adjusted by chef Narin Long.

“Every market is different, every palate is different,” Yee said.

With most entrees ranging in price from $11 to $15, the menu includes sushi and sashimi dinners, sushi specialty rolls, ramen, poke bowls, tacos and bao sandwiches. Iya has a full liquor license but will focus on Asian and domestic beers and an assortment of sake wines.

Yee said he understands there is a lot of competition for diners in Amherst, and that parking can be difficult in downtown. But after eight years of running Johnny’s Tavern and working well with Amherst officials, he doesn’t have any fears.

“Given good food, people will find us,” Yee said.

There are 126 apartments rented out in the building on the four levels above his restaurant. The 2,000-square-foot spot includes tables and a bar area with 60 seats, and there is also seating on an outdoor patio.

Yee, whose businesses are done in partnership with Peter Pan Bus Lines owner Peter Picknelly and the Vann Group financial advisers, said he takes inspiration for maintaining and improving his restaurants by visiting Walt Disney World in Florida, trips he has been taking for more than 40 years. There he gets firsthand insights into how a company continues to improve and meet the needs of customers.

On a much smaller scale, Yee said Iya will strike a balance between comfortable and contemporary, and be a space that is versatile and welcoming.

“We’re not only building a restaurant for the community to enjoy,” Yee said. “We’re building a meeting place for the community.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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