Customers Become Like Family at Sakebob
Local restaurant melds Japanese and Korean cuisine into home-style experience.
For those who like sushi, there's a small restaurant in Oak Forest that should be added to your destination list—if it isn't there already. Sakebob, which opened its doors in 2008, is home to authentic homemade sushi. Many consider it the best around.
"We get customers from all over the south suburbs," said Kyong Wojcik, who is the owner and operator. "A lot of the people who come here become regulars."
This is Wojcik's first venture into the restaurant business, and she approaches it as she would a dinner she's hosting at her home.
Wojcik and her main chef, Su Young Moon—or "Johnny" to Wojcik—handle almost all the food preparation. Both are natives of South Korea, and they have melded Korean and Japanese style sushi into their menu.
"Japanese sushi is the sweet style, and Korean is spicy style," said Wojcik. "We do both."
In fact, Johnny is formally trained in both styles. He boasts an education from the Cooking School of Kyung Joo Hotel in Korea, and the Sirano Cooking School in Osaka, Japan. He has worked at sushi restaurants in Los Angeles, New York, Virginia, and South Korea and Japan.
In spite of starting out in the middle of the recession, the restaurant has done reasonably well.
"Our business is doing OK," said Wojcik. "I'm not happy, happy, happy, but business is getting better."
Michelle Stoffle, who works as bartender/server, credits the hands-on approach of Wojcik and Johnny as the reason for the restaurant's success.
"I started coming here a few years ago as a customer, and it's been like a second home," she said. "When you walk in here you're like family to Kyong and Johnny. They greet you with a smile, always very friendly. It's like coming home."
Stoffle has watched Wojcik take delight in introducing families to sushi.
"She's always pushing people to try different things," she said. "She makes it fun for the kids. She starts them out with rice dishes and miso soup. Before you know it, they're back and they're eating the sushi."
If you're not into sushi, the menu lists many cooked dishes, as well. Try the chicken and steak teriyaki with homemade teriyaki sauce. Or maybe the spicy pork and beef dishes with vegetables, as well as baked mussels.
"Eighty-five to 90 percent of the food served is sushi," said Stoffle, "but people love the cooked foods, too. Everything is fresh and handmade, and you can taste it."
They also have a full service bar, which of course, includes some of their own creations. Wojcik and Johnny work very hard to be unique, and according to Stoffle, it's starting to pay off.
"Fridays and Saturdays are getting busier and busier," she said. "Lots of families. Kids and parents and grandparents. Sometimes we're setting up tables clear across the restaurant. We're also starting to get some parties. One of the most popular is bachelorette parties. The girls are having dinner before they go out and do their thing."
Ethnic restaurants have not always fared well in Oak Forest, but Sakebob's family approach appears to be catching on.