Walking into South Bend’s Woochi Japanese Fusion is like walking into a new world — one with big-city flair and old-world flavors.
Guests are greeted with vibrant lights when they walk through the door, and that’s the only the start of their experience. It’s common to hear audible “oohs” and “ahhs” from fellow restaurant goers as they are served bright, colorful sushi with a flaming dish or a meal served in the shape of a boat.
“We would like for our guests to have a professional and upscale experience both with food and beverages,” says Woochi Manager Luzy Aguirre.
Woochi recently relocated to 119 N. Michigan St., South Bend — just around the corner from its former location. It is a sushi and Japanese fusion restaurant in downtown South Bend. Since 2012, the restaurant has served the people of Michiana the finest in sushi and Asian cuisine, according to its owners.
Woochi is owned by David Meredith and Jeremy Young, both originally of China. The pair decided to venture into Japanese food after working for years at local Chinese restaurants by opening Zings in Mishawaka in 2012. The success of Zings led to the pair opening Woochi in South Bend, after seeing the potential in the area.
“When Woochi just opened, downtown South Bend was beginning to succeed in bringing locals to the downtown area,” Luzy says. “We helped encourage our locals to invest in local businesses, especially in the foreign cuisine.”
It is the dedication of David, Jeremy and the rest of the Woochi staff to downtown South Bend that has made the restaurant a mainstay for local residents looking for a fun, trendy night out, Luzy says.
“Our food reflects on the cuisine we wish to present,” says Luzy, who as been with Woochi since 2013. “We pride ourselves in having the best quality of ingredients that goes into our food. We want Asian cuisine to be represented as best as possible through our menu.”
Woochi offers a number of Asian inspired dishes, but the sushi is what really draws in customers. Though the restaurant offers classics like the California roll or the spicy tuna roll, Woochi’s chefs are not afraid to get creative. Customer favorites include more out-of-the-box dishes like the volcano roll, the rainbow roll and the spider roll.
For those who don’t understand the appeal of eating raw fish, a number of Chinese, Thai and teriyaki dishes are available, including ramen and udon noodles and plenty of chicken, beef and shrimp options.
With the word “woochi” meaning infinity and home, Luzy says the sushi joint works hard to live up to its name.
“We always implore our employees to try and apply for different positions because we are always looking to grow,” Luzy says. “We always encourage teamwork to give our guests the best experience, and to work like a family and to make it feel like home. To me, Woochi is the result of the owners striving for employees to grow and find their own path in life.”
Looking toward the future of downtown South Bend, Luzy says she is proud to work for Woochi and hopes the restaurant will continue to represent foreign cuisines proudly — and with great customer service — for a long time to come.
“The best thing about Woochi is that our best interest is always involving the guests and their requests,” she says. “We always accepted outside comments and we are always looking for improvement.”
Photography by Wes Jerdon/Westley Leon Studios