Aka Sushi attempts a reopening during COVID-19

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — We often hear how tough it can be to open a restaurant. There are many moving parts that make someone’s lifelong dream also one of the hardest tasks they’ll ever face.

Now, imagine opening a restaurant in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. That is what Aka Sushi in Downtown Corpus Christi will be attempting to do, and it’s a decision that has weighed on their minds for some time. “Every other night we were staying awake thinking about these issues,” said opening coordinator Sean Kim. “Is the governor going to shut us down? Are we going to be able to open our doors tomorrow?”

Those are all valid concerns, especially as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Nueces county. Aka Sushi has been open in the Coastal Bend for close to two decades, and was founded by James Kim.

It closed its doors for eight months for remodeling, well before the crisis hit Corpus Christi, with no clue what was on the horizon. Now, it looks to open its doors again, and get the staff’s livelihoods back on track. “It’s scary, it is frightening,” Sean Kim said. “It’s honestly life or death.” Chefs are hard at work honing their craft in Aka’s new kitchens, preparing sushi rolls for hungry customers who are ready to experience dining out again at their favorite restaurant.

The reopening is a big moment for the Kim family, but they are not the only ones. For some, the reopening of Aka Sushi has provided an avenue of getting back to work. Gerardo Obregon is one of the restaurant’s new servers. He lost his job when the pandemic first struck home, but Aka Sushi has gotten him back to work.

“It’s awesome,” Obregon said with a smile. “When you are looking for a job and suddenly find one, they open doors for you and they treat you like family.” Having been on the other side of things, he never wants to relive that situation again. “I am grateful for the opportunity,” he said. “Because it is scary.”

The path back to stability for the restaurant, like many others in the area, will not be easy. There is still a 50-percent capacity limit on all restaurants in the state of Texas. “We have been in the Coastal Bend for 20 years,” Kim said. “We are serving the people that we love, serving the food that we love but without you, we just simply can’t make it happen.” The restaurant’s official grand re-opening is scheduled for July 24.

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The Relaunch Of Aka Sushi Downtown

Words and Photos By: Luis Arjona

Since 2001, Aka Sushi Japanese Restaurant has been a staple in Corpus Christi, Texas. Serving up delicious meals from the mind of South Korean native James Kim. Owner and operator of Aka Sushi Downtown, Kim is the champion of the restaurant. Since its inception, Aka Sushi has been a city favorite. Leading his team to earn several The Caller-Times Best of the Best for several years.
James Kim immigrated to the United States in 1980. Living in Houston, Texas for about ten years, he decided to make the move to Corpus Christi, Texas. He wanted to fulfill his dream of opening up the first traditional sushi restaurant in South Texas. To raise capital for his dream, Kim began his ascent by opening a store under the name Times Market. Garnering success in his first store, Kim then expanded to what would be a total of seven Times Markets throughout the area. After ten years of maintaining and operating the network of Times Markets, Kim then began to sell his assets to other Korean immigrants who were also chasing their “American Dream.”
With the capital of his market venture, Kim raised enough for his first Aka Sushi located on Everhart Road. This was the start of the legacy of Aka Sushi. Serving up delicious meals, sourcing fresh ingredients, and providing a wonderful environment is all in a day’s work. Through his dedication, Kim’s labor of love gained enough popularity and trust from the community to open up his second location.
With options around the city, Kim chose to purchase property on Water Street. For the past two decades, he has been serving the residents of the Coastal Bend with irresistible specialty rolls, traditional Japanese dining, and Korean family specialties. Now, with the help of the Downtown Management District (DMD) and the City’s Development Incentives Program, Kim’s met his goals by investing in Aka Sushi Downtown and relaunching with improvements and renovations. Aka Sushi Downtown aims to serve locals and visitors alike with top tier service, leaving those who visit with an incredible experience.
This family-run local business is a force to be reckoned with. The staff and family of Aka Sushi work with a drive that leads me to believe that the sky is the limit for this wonderful restaurant. Due to Covid-19, the “Grand Opening” of Aka Sushi Downtown was delayed until July 24th, 2020. However, they have been fulfilling take-out orders and are serving dine-in customers in a thoroughly clean space. Even Anton Ego would be impressed.

415 N Water St, Corpus Christi, TX 78401
(361) 882-8885
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One perfect score, four A-listers on today’s Kitchen Cops

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Kitchen Cops found one perfect score and four other A-listers during their checks around Corpus Christi today.

Here’s a list of what we found:

Perfect score

  • Aka Sushi, 415 Water



  • Hester’s Cafe & Coffee Bar, 3812 Alameda


  • BKK Thai Kitchen, 3850 Alameda


  • Subway, 11101 Leopard
  • Domino’s Pizza, 2222 Airline

B List


  • Asian Cafe, 2233 Airline.

Violations included:

  • Cooked food stored in cardboard boxes
  • All food must be covered at all times
  • Clean inside of ice machine
  • All refrigerators need thermometers
  • No paper towels at handwashing sink
  • Employees must use drinking cups with lids
  • Store wiping towels properly
  • All scoop handles and spoons must be stored upright


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