Owner/Executive Chef: Philip Yang
Philip has been preparing to open SASA, his new Izakaya style restaurant his entire life. His journey began growing up in China and Japan. His first stop as kitchen chef was at the Shinjiku Prince Hotel in Tokyo. Then it was off to the United States where he earned his BS in accounting/computer science and later studied at the California Institute of America.
Philip has owned or operated Japanese Restaurants since 1986. For the past 10 years he has created some of the BEST sushi in the East Bay at the Blue Gingko, Lafayette. Philip loves his craft and he draws from his experience and classical culinary training to create dishes that are inspired by his Japanese culture.
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 a distinctive elegance and depth to his 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 from 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. Philip promise to his guests 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 to with friends or belly up to the Sushi Bar and let him create a special menu and experience just for YOU.
Philip’s dream to bring Izakaya to Walnut Creek has finally come true. You’ll recognize Phil. He’s the chef that can’t stop smiling…
Chef de Cuisine: Sam Castro
A native of the Philippines, Sam came to the Bay Area at the age of 8. His parents were restaurateurs in San Francisco in the early eighties, which launched Sam into the culinary world. Sam learned the basics in his family’s kitchen then expanded his horizons with Japanese cooking, working as a cook in a small Japanese restaurant in San Jose. Sam learned to value the simplicity and worked to master the complexity of Asian cooking. After two years, he was promoted to sous chef, where he learned to manage a full kitchen staff. He was then promoted to executive chef when the restaurant expanded and opened a 160 seat upscale California-Japanese restaurant in San Francisco’s South Bay.
For years, he worked to learn more about regional Japanese cuisine and had the wonderful opportunity to savor different influences from other culinary cultures. His menus highlighted the playfulness of flavors that came out of blending various ingredients from around the world. By building a good foundation for his chosen career, he knew it was time to sharpen his skills in San Francisco, the culinary mecca of the west coast. Talented chefs surrounded him and once again he was an apprentice absorbing new techniques and experimenting with new flavors. At Restaurant Azie, a French inspired Asian restaurant, he worked as Chef de Cuisine under Chefs Donnie Masterton and Jody Denton, putting his own talent to the test. The big city years gave him a sense of finesse to his cooking style. The last few years, Sam had been the Executive Chef at the Renaissance Clubsport in Walnut Creek, a unique resort with a members-only fitness club and a boutique hotel. His tenure at the club gave him an opportunity to gain knowledge on healthy cooking and exhibit his managing skills to lead a full culinary team.
For a change of pace, Sam enjoys spending time with his family, golfing and dining out, just to see what the other chefs are cooking up.
General Manager: Shannon Hargis
As General Manager for Sasa Restaurant, Shannon 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 10 years and has made it her home away from home.
Entertaining at home or at Sasa, 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, coach volleyball, and spend time with her family and friends.