By David M. Brown
Edward and Joanne Chung have opened Grill N Chop, 2401 E. Baseline Road, midway between Lindsay Road and 24th/Burk Street in a revitalized Gilbert strip center, putting their restaurant across from another Asian kitchen, Simi’s Chinese.
The families that own the two businesses are friends.
The neighborhood sit-down/take out venue specializes in freshly prepared teriyaki, sushi and ramen. Although the couple are Korean, the restaurant features mostly popular Japanese-inspired dishes, including tempura, yakisoba and udon.
“Our concept was to create a fast-food environment that was friendly and serves great food at varied prices,” said Edward, a business graduate from Cal Poly Pomona. Gilbert residents for six years, he and Joanne have a daughter and son in Gilbert schools.
This is the couple’s first restaurant. Before coming to the Valley, Edward had moved to Las Vegas after completing his education in California, taking an opportunity in retail clothing.
His parents left Seoul just after World War II and lived in Orange County, where Edward was raised.
In Las Vegas, he met Joanne, who had opened a smaller retail store right next to his.
Born in Seoul, she came to the United States on vacation to learn English when she was about 22, after studying hotel administration and working at a Seoul hotel. She spoke Korean and Japanese and had learned to write English in school.
“My parents met him when they visited Las Vegas from Seoul,” she recalled. “My mother packed some Korean lunch for me and put in some extra for Edward.” The two married in Las Vegas about 11 years ago.
“We tried to ride the recession out, but things were pretty tough in Vegas,” he explained. “So, we decided to do something else.”
Joanne had a friend in the Valley who was developing sushi franchises inside Fry’s Food Stores.
The couple decided that this was the tack they wanted. In this way, they would become independent vendors while still being connected to a larger company.
In 2013, they opened one of these at the Fry’s at Baseline and Gilbert roads, about a mile from their current restaurant. They eventually opened four in the East Valley.
About a year ago, they decided to make another change. “We wanted something less structured and confined,” Edward explained. They sold the sushi franchise and opened Grill N Chop.
Already popular are the teriyaki bowls, served with white rice. Order it as a plate, and you can add steamed vegetables. Options include Veggie, chicken, beef, combinations, spicy tuna or a poke bowl, which is diced raw fish in a proprietary sauce.
Each of the offerings have variations. The tempura, for example, are available as dumplings, veggie, shrimp or a combination. Udon, light flour noodles, can be enjoyed with vegetables, chicken, beef or shrimp. The thinner stir-fried yakisoba noodles are available with the same options.
The restaurant continues to serve sushi rolls, including a deep-fried tempura California Roll, spicy tuna roll, nigiri, with tuna, salmon and eel, and inari, with tofu. salads, which are popular throughout Japan and Korea, are also available, including a veggie avocado, a beef teriyaki and a chicken katsu.
Both Edward and Joanne love Japanese food, but they have at least one Korean-inspired dish as one of the sides: spicy glazed chicken bites, which, with a side of white or brown rice, can be a snack or full meal.
As a neighborhood restaurant, they are particularly committed to the highest of food standards.
“We really care about quality,” she says. “My customers can be neighborhood kids, we might know the parents. My children are eating here; it’s like their second home. And, many of our customers from Fry’s are coming over here now and sending people our way to help us.
“If I don’t like it for my family, I won’t sell it for anyone else’s.”
Grill N Chop is open Monday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and closed Friday and Sunday.