Yuzu, the recently-opened addition to Government Street’s White Star Market, aims to please poke and sushi lovers through a blend of traditional and experimental style.
The restaurant opened its doors in December as one of White Star Market’s vendors taking the spot formerly occupied by Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar to give consumers an opportunity to experience diverse poke bowls around the Mid-City area.
“We had got the opportunity just a couple months ago,” said Jordan Ramirez, the co-owner of Yuzu. “We thought this would be a good concept. It wasn’t in the market yet. You don’t really have many options in Mid-City so we thought it would be a natural fit.”
Ramirez is one half of Yuzu’s ownership, with his associate Vu Le also serving as co-owner. In addition to Yuzu, they also own White Star’s other Asian-based restaurant Chow Yum Phat — which resides only steps away. Once the window was open to install another booth in the market, Ramirez and Le couldn’t help but say yes.
“We always thought it’d be a good idea to do something like this in the market, but the opportunity never came up,” Ramirez said. “Once it came up they offered, asked if they wanted us to do it and we said, ‘sure.’”
In the middle of Baton Rouge’s poke restaurant boom — with establishments opening frequently all over the area — what separates Yuzu from the rest? The answer, according to Ramirez, is exciting and innovative twists to a conventional poke menu that consumers will be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
“What we do at Yuzu is kind of like what we do with Chow Yum Phat,” Ramirez said. “It’s not so much traditional … Our sauces are things that we’ve played around with.”
The sauces aren’t the only thing that the Yuzu staff finds creativity in. The restaurant offers the promise of in-house cooking with deviant twists, like pickled foods. “We offer pickled pork, pickled squash, different than your traditional poke,” Ramirez said.
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Since its opening last year, Yuzu is rolling out a menu that will change to offer even more compelling reasons to dine.
“We opened back in the beginning of December but we kind of had a few weeks to turn around with moving Chow Yum Phat there and Yuzu here, so we opened with a very simple menu,” Ramirez said. “Now we are about to release our menu with poke burritos, ceviches … and then we will release our signature bowls.”
Even though there is no clear demographic that Yuzu caters to in addition to White Star’s inviting unity, there is plenty to offer to the college community.
“Throughout the fall students found out about White Star Market and we started seeing more and more,” Ramirez said. “I think it’s become more of a place for people to actually come out on weekends.”
To close, he remained adamant on the possibility of choice advocated by Yuzu and White Star as a whole.
“It’s good to bring friends and bring a group of people where you don’t have to settle on one type of food,” Ramirez said. “Everybody can try something they want or try something different.”