Change is good. Growth is good for the person; expansion is good for the community.
But on a stressful day, more of the same can be better.
Especially when it comes to sushi.
There is a level of comfort that presents itself on a platter of neatly rolled Maki (seaweed on the outside) or Urimaki (rice on the outside) that has been arranged in a pleasant fashion.
The visual can be astonishing in its artistry, especially when you encounter Chef Ton Ming Wang’s craft during what would otherwise be a routine act of brief escapism in an industrial-based city – the lunch hour.
Wang has been in the house at Emma’s Asian One for around five years. He can be found behind the official sushi bar constructed by Turnkey Creations in Jefferson City.
Ordering one of Wang’s creations is an expression of the inner child, a reminder that we all need to stop for a moment, to calm down, to sit still.
If patience is not a virtue you possess, order an extra eggroll or a small bowl of fried rice to hold you over until the rolls are delivered with a flourish: the Rainbow, the Spider, the Emma, the Sexy Girl – some with spicy or wasabi mayo (or both) to complement the tempura or raw slices of salmon, tuna, crabmeat and vegetables expertly assembled into aesthetically pleasing sculptures or lined up horizontally across the plate and drizzled with masago, the brightly colored, edible eggs of the capelin fish.
The artistry of Wang and the four other staffers at Emma’s trained in sushi preparation can be learned by the average person, according to owner Emma Chen.
The restaurant hosted a sushi class in June and she is considering hosting another this fall.
The community gathering/training session went well and Emma will implement the suggestions made by attendees.
“We mostly let them try making what they wanted,” Emma said. “We put out samples and they created their own. We were doing it hand-by-hand, teaching at every table. That may not be working very well. The next class may be more ‘show,’ where everybody comes to the Sushi Bar and looks at how the Sushi chef rolls. We will have the samples out on the bar and then everybody take to their section to do it. That way, we don’t need so many people to teach.”
New items will be added to the restaurant’s menu that includes a full range of Asian dishes, Hibachi grill items, Happy Boxes (bento), Thai, soups and salads and appetizers – yes, there is Crab Rangoon.
“Special bowls are coming in the fall,” Emma said.
She signed a new, five-year lease in the spring, an indication that the location on West Andrew Johnson Highway is working out for her and her customers. She recently completed a renovation that she had been wanting to do for a while. The dividing wall in the center of the dining room has been torn down, allowing room for the tables and chairs to be moved to the center and the booths moved to the windows, leaving the line of sight to Wang and the Sushi Bar open.
Emma celebrated her 33rd birthday in July and 2022 marks 10 years that the restaurant has been open in Morristown.
The generation of young people who were fascinated by their first taste of sushi and then grew interested in working for her have now graduated college and are getting married and having children.
“It makes me happy that people come here and enjoy,” Emma said.