A good catch

New sushi restaurant reels in customers.

By Kim Devore / Staff Writer

It’s opening night at Bui Sushi and owner Nate Hedari is consumed with last minute details. Hedari may be understandably anxious, but his inviting sushi bar seems an oasis of tranquility.

The old Tommy Bahama’s clothing store in the Malibu Colony Plaza has been transformed into a sleek, modern eatery offering delicacies as vast as the deep blue sea. There’s a spicy tuna tostada, a dynamite Dynamite with bay scallops, tiger shrimp, asparagus and mushrooms as well as Hedari’s personal fave, the miso butterfish. The floor has been treated with an ocean blue resin, traditional lacquer stools are neatly lined up, imagery reflecting both Malibu and the Far East is reflected above the bar and there’s even a cozy booth in the corner.

It may be the first chapter in Malibu’s newest eatery, but Bui Sushi already has an intriguing tale to tell. For inspiration Hedari didn’t have to look any further than outside the back door to the expansive views of the Pacific.

“We came up with a story and developed our theme around it,” he explains. “Bui is an ocean marker. It’s something that connects us to two worlds. We wanted to do a Japanese version of that in Malibu.”

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While the city has a reputation as being a tough restaurant town with more than one sushi bar to choose from, Hedari thought something was missing and took the plunge.

“There is Nobu and Zuma. I wanted something in the middle, a place to go to with reasonable prices and good service.”

Hedari knows a thing or two about restaurants, after all he also owns another local institution— Coogie’s, which is conveniently located right next door.

His connection to Malibu goes way back as well. After graduating from college and earning his stripes at Spruzzo’s, Hedari made his way to Coogie’s where he eventually became an owner. Hedari’s recipe for success is being hands-on.

“I’m an owner,” he explains, “but I also bring the food, I bus the tables, I mingle with the customers.”

It was business as usual until late last year, when a delicious opportunity came knocking.

“I always wanted to open a sushi restaurant and when the location came up, I couldn’t turn it down. Being next door, it’s easily manageable.”

It wasn’t quite so manageable at first. Hedari put in long hours to make Bui Sushi a reality. “Turning a clothing store into a restaurant in five months was a nightmare,” he recalls. “There was no kitchen, no plumbing, nothing. We had to start from scratch. Sushi chefs aren’t easy to find. I had to set up the menu and pick the décor. I’d stand outside many nights by myself and wonder how it was all going to work.”

As it turns out, he didn’t have to worry quite so much. Opening night was a success and Hedari’s loyal fans have been pouring in ever since. The initial nightmare has turned into a dream come true. With top-notch sushi chefs from Hawaii and well-known establishments like Something’s Fishy and The Hump, Hedari now boasts a crew of five, seating for 50 and a tasty sense of satisfaction.

“I thought there was a need for something like this,” he says. “It took a while, but I did it.”

So if you’ve got a hunger for great sushi at good prices, head for the bar at Bui. You’ll see why these guys are on a roll.

Bui Sushi is located at 23733 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu.

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