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This weekend, I was excited to enjoy my first indoor dining experience since Covid at a brand-new, locally-owned restaurant in the Tower District. Banzai Japanese Bar & Kitchen opened in the former Casa de Tamales location on N. Olive between Palm & Fulton just a couple doors down from the Lincoln Pub & Grub. The Lincoln Pub made a name for itself by offering craft cocktails and tasty appetizers, like their signature Tempura Green Beans with Spicy Aioli dipping sauce for just $5. Banzai Japanese Bar & Kitchen Brings Sushi Back to the Tower District
You may be wondering why the Lincoln Pub is so relevant to the opening of a new sushi and Japanese restaurant. The exciting thing about both businesses is that they share common co-owners in David Rasavong and his wife, Anna Nguyen. I can’t help but proudly cheer for local business owners who have found a way to make it through the extreme challenges of owning an eatery through a pandemic including shifting their business model to include offering affordable and tasty family-style dinners by co-owner Chef Andy, and cocktails to-go. I also proudly cheer for the fact that they kept going, kept prices affordable and then went on the bring even more options to Fresno restaurant-goers by opening a second business and a totally different cuisine.
Banzai Japanese Bar & Kitchen is a table service restaurant that offers a wide variety of sushi rolls and other Japanese specialties like a fresh seafood salad, spicy garlic edamame, teriyaki beef, katsu pork, and crispy tofu bento box meals for those who aren’t big sushi fans. Their menu also includes fusion dishes like their new Sumo Fries (which are fries topped with steak, spicy masago, and avocado), their crispy, giant breaded and stuffed Mushroom Bombs, and fan-favorite Poke Nachos.
Banzai’s interior has undergone a complete makeover since Rasavong took over and the interior of the restaurant now features an open floor plan with a u-shaped, blue-light lit bar centered in the dining area. Murals by local artists make for great dining and Instagram backdrops. The full bar offers a wide variety of cocktails including specialty drinks featuring Japanese whiskies, and if you like pineapple I highly recommend the Tokyo-lada.
My friends and I visited for a birthday on a busy Saturday evening and were able to be seated quickly, the service was friendly, efficient, and attentive despite the restaurant being busy. Tables are spaced for distancing between parties and condiments, menus, and other items were thoughtfully prepared to be single-use to reduce risk as we wane out the later end of the pandemic.
If you’re ready to head to the restaurants whether you eat indoors or out, I would definitely recommend adding Banzai Japanese Bar & Kitchen to your list of places to visit very soon. I think you’ll really enjoy it!
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Banzai Japanese Bar & Kitchen Brings Sushi Back to the Tower District