Owner/Restaurateur: Philip Yang
Philip Yang owner and Restaurateur, opened the doors to Sasa in downtown Walnut Creek in April of 2010. Philip has owned and operated Japanese Restaurants since 1986. For the past 14 years he has created some of the BEST sushi in the East Bay starting with Blue Gingko, Lafayette. His success at Blue Gingko, would eventually lead to opening Sasa, his Izakaya dream restaurant.
Izakaya is a relaxed style of dining. It is centered on Japanese inspired flavors that combine with the freshness and availability of each season. There is distinctive elegance and depth to the dishes that are, at the same time, simple and approachable. Philip has always been known for the freshest of fish at his restaurants. Much of the selection comes straight for the Tsukiji Market in Tokyo.
At Sasa, it will be a challenge to make your way through the entire menu in one or two visits. There is a lot to experience and Philip’s promise to guests at Sasa is to keep the food and the restaurant atmosphere fun & unpretentious. He invites you to drop in for a drink after work, share a few small plates and enjoy a relaxing change of pace.
Philip’s dream of bringing Izakaya to Walnut Creek has been successful and allowed him to open Blue Gingko, Blackhawk, and upcoming in 2014 Yang will open his newest restaurant location in Dublin, California.
General Manager: Shannon Hargis
As General Manager, Shannon has been with Sasa since its opening in 2010 and offers a longstanding passion for service and hospitality. Her experience spans over 20 years growing up in restaurants owned by her family. Her practical experience comes from a strong work ethic and her high standard for guest relations comes from a keen sense of awareness and attention to detail. She has worked at various restaurants in downtown Walnut Creek for the past 13 years and has made it her home away from home.
Entertaining has become a passion for Shannon expressed through the many private events held throughout the year at Sasa. Social by nature, she loves to be around good people, good food, wine and sake. She has an inviting character that will bring you back to see her.
Shannon is married with two children and lives in the North Bay. She is a graduate of Humboldt State University where she studied Micro Biology and Botany. In her spare time she loves to garden, camp, golf and spend time with her family and friends.
Executive Chef: Cyrus Irudistan
Growing up in the Philippines, Cyrus Irudistan was introduced to sustainable farming practices at an early age. Those experiences on the farm and at the family market would eventually lay the foundation leading to his role as Executive Chef at Sasa restaurant. At Sasa, Irudistan uses those same sustainable sensibilities by using fresh seasonal and local ingredients in his dishes. His passion, creativity and good natured personality lend to the “Izakaya Experience” that waits for you at Sasa.
Prior to Sasa, Irudistan opened and served as Executive Chef at Blue Gingko, Blackhawk, a sister restaurant to Sasa. Irudistan gives downtown Walnut Creek a lot of credit for his growth as a young upcoming Chef. His role as Executive Chef at Havana and Chef de Cuisine at Walnut Creek Yacht Club make him no stranger to the Walnut Creek dining scene. He also gained experience at some of San Francisco’s most well known restaurants including Postrio, Farallon, and Aqua.
Of cooking, Irudistan says, “It’s all about making people happy, that’s why I cook. Nothing beats the instant gratification you get when you see someone smiling while they tell you that they just had a great meal.”
Irudistan earned his Associates Degree in Culinary Arts from the California Culinary Academy in 2003. When he’s not in the kitchen, he enjoys seeking out small neighborhood Japanese, Vietnamese and Philippine restaurants in the interest of “research and development”. True to his roots, he still enjoys a home cooked meal at his grandmother’s every weekend.
Executive Sushi Chef: Jason Shimizu
Jason Shimizu was born and raised in San Francisco. His parents owned and operated restaurants in San Francisco and culinary arts quickly became a part of his life. Shimizu worked as a dishwasher starting at the age of sixteen and after working for hotel Nikko for three years he left to Japan at the age of 20. While in Japan Shimizu was trained in many methods of authentic Japanese cuisine including Izakaya. His attributes discovered while in Japan lead to Shimizu’s position as Executive Sushi Chef at Sasa.
Chef Shimizu inspects the quality of fish delivered to Sasa daily. Shimizu’s traditionally trained knife and butchering skills rival som of the best. So whether you are looking for a unique Omakase personal dining experience at the Sushi Bar: or some Maki and Nigiri in the dining room, trust Shimizu will deliver only the best quality at Sasa.
Chef Shimizu is married with one son and two daughters and lives in the East Bay. Shimizu enjoys spending time with his family and playing an occasional round of golf with friends.