Sarku Japan

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Sarku Japan
IndustryQuick Service Restaurant
GenreJapanese cuisine
Founded1987; 36 years ago (1987)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
FounderJames Chim
7650 Birchmount Road, Markham, Ontario, Canada
Number of locations
181 (September 1, 2021)[1]
Area served
United States
ProductsTeppanyaki and sushi

Sarku Japan is an American quick serve restaurant chain focusing on Japanese cuisine. Founded in 1987, the chain has grown to include over 180 locations in 32 states across the country, as of September 2021.[2]

The vast majority of the chain's restaurants are located in shopping mall food courts, however a number of street locations can be found in Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Virginia.[2]

Sarku Japan's menu is composed predominantly of teriyaki dishes (chicken, beef and shrimp), though it also offers bento boxes, dumplings, tempura and a variety of sushi rolls.[3]

Map showing US states with Sarku Japan locations as of September 2021. States with at least one location are indicated in red.
Teriyaki chicken dish served by one of the chain's stores in Medellín.



The first Sarku Japan was opened by James Chim in Boston, Massachusetts in 1987.[4][5] Chim had previously worked as an executive at the Canadian quick-serve restaurant chain Manchu Wok, during which time he became inspired to open his own restaurant.[5]

The restaurant proved to be successful and by 1991 had grown to a chain of over 25 stores in 8 states, including as far away as Colorado and Texas.[4]

By 1992 - the next year - it had doubled in size to more than 50 restaurants across the Eastern Seaboard and Midwest.[4]

Sarku Japan opened its 100th location in 1999 accompanying an expansion to the West Coast.[4]


In April 2002, the company moved its headquarters to its present location in Markham, Ontario.[4][6]

In the late-2000s and early-2010s, the company embarked on a substantial expansion campaign.[7][8][9] These efforts included opening new "Teriyaki and Sushi Express" concept stores intended to be street-front rather than in mall food courts,[7][8] as well as the signing of a contract with Frisby Corp to open 20+ new locations in Colombia over the following decade.[9][8]

The first of the Colombian stores opened in Pereira, Medellín and Cali in October 2011, followed by 5 more in Medellín, Cali and Bogotá by the end of the year.[8][10]

The company also looked to expand to Vietnam, Asia, Europe and the Middle East,[8] however there is no indication that these ventures were ever undertaken. At the time, the company was forecasting the chain would reach 1,000 locations by the end of the decade.[7][8][10]


In March 2020, as part of the COVID-19 pandemic, the chain was forced to temporarily close nearly all of its locations.[6] This extended closure led to the company's 2020 yearly sales declining 46% from the year prior, and left the chain in precarious financial standing.[6]

Despite loosened COVID-19 restrictions, the chain reported that by January 2021 only 184 of 226 locations had reopened.[6] As of September 2021, it appears many of these locations are still closed or may have permanently shuttered.[2]

The company currently lists operating 181 stores in 32 states.[2]

Associated restaurants[edit]

Kato's Cajun[edit]

Sarku Japan owns and operates the Cajun-Chinese quick-serve restaurant chain Kato's Cajun.[11] As of September 2021, only one location of Kato's Cajun is open, located in East Towne Mall in Madison, Wisconsin.[12] It is unclear how many restaurants existed at its peak however listings can be found for former locations at West Towne Mall in Madison,[13] Market Place Shopping Center in Champaign, Illinois,[14] Arbor Place in Douglasville, Georgia[15] and The Shops at Liberty Place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[16]

Ming Tree[edit]

Sarku Japan also owns and operates the Chinese quick-serve restaurant chain Ming Tree.[11] It appears as of September 2021 that the Ming Tree chain is defunct, as no location listings can be found. Listings can be found for closed locations at Dover Mall in Dover, Delaware,[17] Security Square Mall in Baltimore, Maryland[18] and Independence Mall in Wilmington, North Carolina.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Locations". Sarku Japan. 2021-09-01. Retrieved 2021-09-13.
  2. ^ a b c d "Sarku Japan Location Information". Sarku Japan. Retrieved 2021-09-16.
  3. ^ "menus". Sarku Japan. Retrieved 2021-09-16.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Sarku Japan Franchise Overview". Retrieved 2021-09-16.
  5. ^ a b "Sarku Japan founder creates flagship MBA scholarship". Edwards School of Business. Retrieved 2021-09-16.
  6. ^ a b c d "Pre-Filing Report of the Proposed Monitor Alvarez & Marsal Canada Inc" (PDF). Alvarez and Marsal. 24 January 2021. Retrieved 16 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ a b c "Sarku Japan debuts new concept, franchise structure". 2009-10-01. Retrieved 2021-09-16.
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Sarku Japan prepares for ambitious domestic and international growth". 2010-08-19. Retrieved 2021-09-16.
  9. ^ a b "Sarku Japan continues expansion, opens in Colombia". 2011-09-07. Retrieved 2021-09-16.
  10. ^ a b Japan, Sarku. "Sarku Japan® Opens Three Restaurants in Colombia". Retrieved 2021-09-16.
  11. ^ a b "about us". Sarku Japan. Retrieved 2021-09-17.
  12. ^ "Kato's Cajun · 89 E Towne Way, Madison, WI 53704". Kato's Cajun · 89 E Towne Way, Madison, WI 53704. Retrieved 2021-09-17.
  13. ^ "Kato's Cajun · 54 W Towne Mall, Madison, WI 53719". Kato's Cajun · 54 W Towne Mall, Madison, WI 53719. Retrieved 2021-09-17.
  14. ^ "Kato's Cajun · 2000 N Neil St, Champaign, IL 61820". Kato's Cajun · 2000 N Neil St, Champaign, IL 61820. Retrieved 2021-09-17.
  15. ^ "Kato's Cajun · Arbor Place, 6700 Douglas Blvd, Sp # FC-5, Douglasville, GA 30135". Kato's Cajun · Arbor Place, 6700 Douglas Blvd, Sp # FC-5, Douglasville, GA 30135. Retrieved 2021-09-17.
  16. ^ "Kato's Cajun · 1625 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19103". Kato's Cajun · 1625 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19103. Retrieved 2021-09-17.
  17. ^ "Ming Tree · 1365 N Dupont Hwy, Dover, DE 19901". Ming Tree · 1365 N Dupont Hwy, Dover, DE 19901. Retrieved 2021-09-17.
  18. ^ "Ming Tree · Security Square Mall, 6901 Security Blvd., Sp. #8, Baltimore, MD 21244". Ming Tree · Security Square Mall, 6901 Security Blvd., Sp. #8, Baltimore, MD 21244. Retrieved 2021-09-17.
  19. ^ "Ming Tree · 3500 Oleander Dr, Wilmington, NC 28403". Ming Tree · 3500 Oleander Dr, Wilmington, NC 28403. Retrieved 2021-09-17.