New sushi restaurant 10 Yen is the talk of the townText and photography by Marina Davalos
Pictured above: Ginger soy pork belly with Ramen noodles
Sushi lovers in Harwich Port rejoice: 10 Yen is here! Located on Main Street, the cozy spot became an instant hit as soon as it opened in the spring. Customers sit at the six-seat sushi bar and watch chef/owner Michael Jacek as he carves and serves up his favorite: fresh nigiri. “We sell nigiri by the piece, depending on what we have each day,” says Jacek. He makes rice rolls topped with raw fish using Spanish mackerel or bigeye, Bluefin or yellowfin tuna. Jacek finishes off each piece with a garnish of salmon roe or fresh wasabi.
“I like to talk to my customers about what I’m making,” says Jacek, who got his start as a sushi apprentice at Inaho in Yarmouthport in 2005. He worked as a chef at the Ocean House in Dennisport and at Mac’s Seafood in Wellfleet before going into business for himself. He serves up classic sushi rolls, such as a spicy tuna or salmon deluxe roll, and the ever-popular California deluxe roll. His Tails in the Air roll is a shrimp tempura roll topped with scallions, eel sauce and spicy mayo.
“But I want to make clear, it’s not just me. We’re all like family here,” Jacek says of himself and his staff. Joining him in the front of the house is general manager and cocktail crafter Felipe Muñoz, who creates original, craft cocktails. The refreshing Ronin has vodka, lemon juice and matcha honey, topped with a fresh cucumber ribbon. “I pour the drink over the cucumber, to give it just a little of the cucumber flavor,” explains Muñoz. Chef Benjamin Swift and sous chef Chris Rugg are the powerhouses in the kitchen, cooking up delectables such as ginger soy pork belly Ramen noodles and vegetable gyoza: Japanese-style dumplings, pan fried and steamed, filled with roasted cabbage, mushrooms and carrots. Spring pea soup with local mint crème-fraiche is a delight. Both Swift and Rugg agree that 10 Yen is like family. “I don’t even feel like it’s work. I get to come in and make beautiful food,” says sous chef Rugg, and they both agree on the merits of working in a small space. “It’s about quality over quantity,” says chef Swift.
The six-seat sushi bar is first-come, first-serve for lunch, and reservation-only for dinner. A stand-up bar running the length of the restaurant provides standing room for eating and drinking, and take-out is popular. The interior was conceived, designed and built by Kevin Flynn of Kevin Flynn Timberworks, a master craftsman who has outfitted the interiors of other popular restaurants such as the Mad Minnow, located behind 10 Yen, and Fishermen’s View in Sandwich. “Michael and I collaborated closely about what he wanted and the way the space would work best for him. Each space is different,” says Flynn. He fashioned the sushi bar out of a pine slab, and being the most important part of the restaurant, Flynn says he made sure it would have a rustic yet upscale feel to it. “This is something you’d find in a city,” he adds.
Jacek, who loves to educate people about sushi, says he wanted as little a barrier as possible between him and his customers. “I love to tell people about tuna,” he says. The passion for what he does is evident. “It’s important. It’s one of the last wild species, and if we’re not careful, we may not have it in the future.”
554 Main St.