LAKEVIEW — Ed Pheomthawee learned the hard way: You don't mess with Godzilla.
One year after openings his first Godzilla Sushi in Jefferson Park and a couple of months into the soft opening of a Lakeview shop, he received a letter demanding he change the name of his restaurant chain or risk a lawsuit.
Not looking to take on the might of Hollywood, Pheomthawee acquiesced. Godzilla Sushi became Gorilla Sushi.
"They're a giant company, and we're a neighborhood restaurant," Pheomthawee said. "They're doing a new movie, and they said they don't want us to use their name to promote our restaurant."
The Japanese company Toho Co. Ltd, which has been involved in nearly 30 Godzilla movies since the 1954, controls the name. The latest installment of Godzilla, which reportedly means "gorilla whale," opened in Japan this summer under the title Godzilla Resurgence.
With the naming woes behind him, the 38-year-old is celebrating the grand opening of Gorilla King Sushi at 1408 W. Diversey Parkway. During August he's offering a free menu item to customers who dine at the Lakeview location.
While diverse, the menu is simplicity at its finest; every item costs $2.95, from salads to sushi rolls. Like the 100 yen menus in Japan, the tapas-like list of offerings gives customer a chance to try more.
Every menu item at Gorilla Sushi costs $2.95 — a plan geared at getting customers to try a variety of sushi. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
Pheomthawee recommends the umo umo roll, made with spicy tuna and masago and topped with seaweed salad. The mini Godzilla roll is Pheomthawee's take on a California roll, topped with spicy tuna, unagi sauce and spicy mayo.
For something sweeter, Gorilla has green tea ice cream, mochi and melon popsicles. Appetizers include fried shumai, miso soup and gyoza.
Ten years ago Pheomthawee opened his first restaurant, a sushi buffet called Katashi that he eventually sold. He was also behind Oh! Fusion in Lakeview and several eateries in the suburbs.
The Thailand native said he learned how to make sushi from one of his first chefs.
He's also learned some tough lessons along the way. Among them, the need to close between lunch and dinner to save money. Gorilla Sushi in Lakeview will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. before reopening from 5-10 p.m., staying open an hour later on Fridays and Saturdays.
Since his soft opening in March, Pheomthawee said Lakeview has taken a liking to his $2.95 menu. Close to DePaul University, the restaurant has a good flow of customers, despite being on the slightly removed corner of Diversey and Southport.
He credits his winning combination of great marketing and delicious sushi.
"I choose only the best," Pheomthawee said.
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