Sherry Blossom is a modest poke restaurant on Park Avenue in Long Beach, which sits between a bagel store to its left and a barbershop to its right.
The obvious assumption is that Sherry Blossom gets its name from a play on the great Japanese trees that bloom in spring, but for its owner, Sherry Zheng, it doubly serves as a reminder of a new beginning.
In some ways, this restaurant is as much a blossoming of Sherry Zheng as it is its food, which she expedites herself with a sushi chef she met throughout her years in hospitality.
Her love of food can be traced back to one moment in a kitchen in China, where at age six she climbed a stool to stand tall enough to prepare a stir-fried omelet for her family, before graduating breakfast to explore a variety of other cuisines as she got older.
After years of waiting tables and bartending at Japanese restaurants across the island, Zheng turned to her reluctant parents, who had never eaten poke (a raw fish salad with origins in Hawaii) before, for a loan that would help her start her own business.
“My parents hadn’t taken me seriously until I presented them with an actual plan for the restaurant,” said Zheng. Her parents, also in the restaurant business, have a Chinese takeout spot in Island Park, where Zheng and her two daughters reside.
But this waitress-turned-restaurateur is at her best scurrying in and out of the kitchen preparing dishes, and to and from behind the counter — where you can build your own meal from a Chipotle style layout of offerings — to serve a bowl of poke ($10.95) or ramen ($13.95). Each bowl is a large enough meal in itself.
Or, perhaps, the spot’s sushi burrito is more up your alley. Start with a base of sushi rice, black rice or organic greens; then, chose a protein from a selection of tunas, salmons and yellowtails (shrimp and tofu are also an option); finally, add a spicy mayo, Thai mango chili, ponzu sauce or miso sauce, and garnishes, and you’re done.
For the health food junkie, Zheng suggests one of the four house salads ($12.95), which have a combination of seafood and greens.
Customers can dine in the front of house, where the walls are lined with images of the ocean, a thin white tree twinkles near the entrance of the shop, and a Sherry Blossom logo dangles like a dreamcatcher with feathers hanging from it in the storefront window. Larger tables that line the right of the restaurant are optimal for customers dining with friends, but three high tops are also available for a quick meal.
Sherry Blossom is at 78 W. Park Ave., Long Beach, 516-889-1200, sherryblossom.net