DANBURY, Conn. — The California roll may be as ubiquitous as the turkey sandwich, but at Ki Asian Bistro & Sushi in Danbury, chef and owner Benny Chow sees to it that diners receive far more than standard Japanese fare.
Chow, who trained with Food Network star Masaharu Morimoto at the renowned Nobu restaurant in Manhattan, is the unassuming master of the sushi bar at Ki Asian, which opened late last year at 7 Eagle Road.
The athletic and compact China-born Chow looks more gymnast than chef. He has been in the restaurant business for more than 20 years. Suburban Connecticut is far from New York City’s TriBeCa, where he worked for years, but he was eager to open an eatery in Danbury, which he calls home.
Chow is adamant about serving only fresh, high-quality fish, even if it means inconsistency in the daily menu. “If it’s not fresh, I absolutely don’t buy it because I wouldn’t serve it,” he said.
Chow’s insistence on fresh seafood sends him daily to Hunt's Point Fish Market in the Bronx, N.Y., as well as to Japanese specialty outlets. He also has “special fish” flown in from Japan.
He enjoys the ever-changing art of creating off-menu dishes for adventurous or curious diners. “People try ‘Omakase’ [which translates roughly as 'I leave it to you'] one time and then they always want to come back and eat whatever I make for them,” he said.
And people are coming back, and not only from Danbury and its environs, but also from lower Fairfield County and Westchester County as well.
“Word of mouth is the best way for people want to know about Ki Asian,” said Chow. He said he now strongly suggests diners call for reservations on weekends.
“It’s getting very crowded now that people want to come eat the food they can’t get at other places,” he said.