Update: Since publishing this article, Irusu Noodles and Sushi has since closed. Check out more of our new food and drink news here!
Ghost kitchens – takeout/delivery restaurants only available through online ordering – were around before the pandemic, but for obvious reasons, COVID-19 has only made them a more popular concept.
One of the more notable ghost kitchens to pop up in Western New York is Irusu Noodles and Sushi. Named after a Japanese term for pretending you’re not home, Irusu revolves around head chef Andrew Berger, who was a sushi chef at Seabar and the executive chef at Misuta Chows.
The menu at Irusu takes inspiration from both popular restaurants. While his sushi offerings echo Seabar hits, his experience at Misuta Chows informs a fully-formed menu of popular Asian dishes.
“(Working at Misuta Chows) kind of catapulted me into more than just sushi,” Berger recently told us. “I really got to know a lot about ramen and different noodle dishes; where they come from and how the noodles are made.”
The ghost kitchen is located on bustling Webster Street in North Tonawanda, just over the bridge from Tonawanda. This area doesn’t have a ton of Asian food options, and Berger is bringing his knowledge of what sells here in Western New York, hoping to build a loyal clientele based on his pedigree. The menu is simple and focused, with dishes Berger’s customers have been craving for years: raw fish sushi, Americanized sushi rolls, ramen, pho and poke.
Berger said the menu at Irusu is also driven by the space in which he’s operating. The old Webster’s Kitchen had hosted cooking demonstrations and private events. Berger along with the building’s owner Barbra Hughes redeveloped the space for Irusu.
“We really just wanted to touch on the favorites and stick to what we’re capable of in that kitchen,” he said.
That kitchen is capable of putting out some pretty good food. In our recent takeout order, the B.E.L.T. (pork Belly, Egg, Lettuce, Tomato) roll ($13) shipped some serious barbecue vibes – meaty, sweet and sour, with a robust umami backbone. Our mushroom miso ramen ($14) was smart, warm and comforting, like a bear hug from a Japanese grandpa. The super chewy noodles and different flavors in each bite flexed some serious culinary knowhow.
Berger said he’s looking to play the long game with his new ghost kitchen concept. The goal is to build up a local brand, and then start looking at expanded operations. But for now, Berger said he’s just focused on making good ghost kitchen food with a skeleton crew.
“It doesn’t matter what your business plan is or what employees you have – if your food’s not good, no one will come,” he said. “Right now, we’re just doing what we do. Then, we’ll see what we can do moving forward. This is not where we want to stop. We want to grow and become somewhat of a household name.”
Pickup Location: 110 Webster Street – Tonawanda
Hours at time of publishing (Subject to change): Thursday 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., Sunday 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., Monday to Wednesday CLOSED
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