UYA bringing poke bowls to Northampton with 2nd location

  • UYA Poke Bowl & Sushi Burrito will be opening a second location on Crafts Avenue in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Johnny Wu and Yue Zhang, co-owners of UYA Poke Bowl & Sushi Burrito, at their restaurant in Florence in 2018. STAFF FILE PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

For the Gazette
Published: 9/9/2019 5:08:10 PM

NORTHAMPTON — After just one year on Main Street in Florence, the family behind UYA Poke Bowl & Sushi Burrito is ready to open their second location in downtown Northampton. The restaurant will fill a storefront at 8 Crafts Ave. that’s been unoccupied since Glazed Donuts moved out in April this year.

Co-owners and married couple Yue Zhang and Johnny Wu brought poke to Florence after realizing it would be something new in the area. Wu’s love of fish plus Zhang’s love of food and people combined to create a unique hotspot and the restaurant’s business has been growing ever since.

“Since the news came out I’ve already had a few customers ask me, ‘You closing this one?’” Zhang said. “And I say, ‘No! We love it here.’”

Zhang said she didn’t always plan on a Northampton location, adding that the vibrant and diverse community will love their equally colorful dishes.She said she hopes the new location will be open by October.

Poke is a Hawaiian cuisine consisting of raw, diced seafood like salmon or shrimp. The meat is tossed vegetables, sauce, and toppings and then poured over rice or mixed greens. UYA also offers sushi burritos: uncooked fish with vegetables and sauce wrapped up, for seafood on-the-go.

“The first year has been very good for us,” Zhang said. “We have regular customers come in two or three times, sometimes four times a week.”

The regulars, according to Zhang, are mostly made up of families and local professionals, but people young and old love it all the same.

“My youngest customer is only 2. She loves our Philly Poke,” Zhang said.

Zhang said she don’t currently serve many students because they need a car or the bus to get to the restaurant and that the new spot is expected to cater to students, shoppers, and city strollers.

Although this will be a new chapter for UYA, they are not entering unknown territory. Wu and Zhang met while working together at Teapot, a Japanese and Chinese cuisine restaurant operated by Wu’s relatives, Zhang said. In fact, Wu once worked as a sushi chef just three doors down from their new location at Taipei & Tokyo.

“What we’re going to provide is fast service,” Zhang said. “Everybody has a busy life now. If you can get your orders in one or two minutes, would you?”

Since only some dishes require any heat, Zhang said the dishes can be prepared as fast as the customer orders it.

For a time after opening, both restaurants will be managed by Zhang and Wu until they find someone “trustworthy and confident” to manage their second shop, Zhang said.

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