by Molly Eide Marquez
In the heart of Sanger, California, a new culinary gem has emerged, offering a refreshing take on Japanese cuisine. True Teriyaki is more than just a restaurant, it’s a testament to simplicity, tradition, and community.
The journey of True Teriyaki began with a dream harbored by True Moua, the owner and head chef, who has always envisioned himself in the Japanese restaurant industry. When the opportunity presented itself with the current building becoming available, fate seemed to align perfectly. Pa Lee, True’s wife, reflects on the serendipity of finding the space, stating, “We found it the same day they posted it! We’ve been in Sanger for over 10 years. When this place became available, we felt it was meant to be.”
The name “True Teriyaki” not only pays homage to True’s given name, but also encapsulates the essence of their culinary philosophy. As Pa explains, “It’s a fun play on words – it is how teriyaki and how sushi are supposed to be. You go into different sushi places and it’s all fancy, but here it is all back to natural – rice, seaweed, meat… keeping it old school.”True Teriyaki isn’t just a family business; it’s deeply rooted in the local community. With family members and neighbors comprising their dedicated staff, True Teriyaki aims to foster a sense of belonging and familiarity among its patrons. Pa emphasizes their commitment to the community, stating, “Everybody who works here lives just a few minutes away. We wanted to open it up to the community and keep it local.”
Since its official opening in mid-October 2023, True Teriyaki has quickly become a beloved culinary destination in Sanger. The restaurant’s menu reflects True’s expertise and dedication to authentic Japanese flavors. Customer favorites such as the Kickin’ Chicken, Dynamite Chicken, and Grilled Chicken Teriyaki showcase the perfect harmony of flavors and textures. Pa reveals the secret behind their savory offerings, sharing, “The house sauce gets made fresh every morning!” The customer-favorite Dynamite sauce certainly has a kick to it. On a scale of one to 10 for spice, Pa rates it a seven!In addition to their mouth-watering chicken dishes, True Teriyaki also boasts a tasty ramen selection. Made with a pork-based broth and meticulously prepared to ensure a light and flavorsome experience, their ramen has quickly garnered praise from patrons for its authenticity and freshness.
True Teriyaki isn’t just about serving delicious food; it’s about reviving the timeless traditions of Japanese cuisine. True Moua’s wealth of experience as a head sushi chef, coupled with his passion for culinary authenticity, shines through in every dish served at True Teriyaki.As the restaurant continues to thrive in Sanger, the owners harbor dreams of expanding their legacy to other locations in the Central Valley. Their vision is clear: to bring back the old traditions of Japanese food and create a haven where simplicity, tradition, and community converge.
Note: All photos provided by True Teriyaki