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Local sushi chef serves up big taste, personality

BY JULIANA FABIANO | JUNE 15, 2011 7:20 AM

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Perkins Herron’s friendly face, familiar white apron and blue baseball cap can be found any day of the week behind the wall of fish at Sushi Kicchin in the Old Capitol Town Center.

Customers belly up to a bar-style seating in front of a glass case of sushi ingredients as Herron perfects rolls of Spicy Tuna and Yellow Tail while listening to his favorite country music.

Interacting with people, he said, is his favorite part of working in the sushi business.

“One of the most rewarding feelings is when someone hasn’t had the best experience with sushi before and you can make them feel comfortable in trying something new and even liking it,” he said.

Since Herron opened his sushi bar in 2007, people have not only been attracted to the tasty handmade rolls but to the vibrant chef.

Sushi Kicchin’s locality is only one aspect of why locals flock to get their quick fix for sushi.

UI junior Maggie Kemp, an avid sushi fan, said Herron’s sushi bar is a quick and inexpensive place to fill her craving.

“You would think it’s not a welcoming place to eat because of the single bar, but it’s actually the exact opposite,” she said. “The chefs there will always talk to you and are so friendly. Plus the sushi’s really good, too.”

The business owner said he likes seeing his customers outside the restaurant because everyone recognizes him as “the sushi guy.”

“The sushi guy” doesn’t always have his mind on raw fish; he doubles as a boxer in his spare time, with his next fight slated for Aug. 7.

But sushi takes up much of his time.

“Being a small-business owner, you have to be there to run it all the time,” Herron said. “It’s demanding but also rewarding.”

The Iowa City native originally picked up his sushi skills while working as the general manager at Three Samurai, 801 Second St. Suite 200, Coralville, eight years ago.

“I loved learning the Japanese style,” he said. “Cooking hibachi was my favorite because it was fun for me to put on a show.”

His ability to make people comfortable, he said, has led to an increasing success in his own business.

The 4-year-old business venture began when co-owner and chef Nikone Sisomphane proposed opening their own sushi bar.

“We’re really good at what we do because we don’t do anything besides sushi,” Herron said. “That’s why we’ve been able to have so much success.”

Herron said the two chefs met when working at Three Samurai, where Sisomphane taught him how to roll sushi.

“He learned to roll a little on his own, and I perfected it for him,” Sisomphane said.

Sisomphane said he got the idea to open with Herron because they were always on the same level.

“We have such a normal routine now everything just runs smoother,” he said. “We work good together; we’re like brothers.”


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