Fresh Fish to the People “Jason has a hot Sake with his first customer almost every night as a way of opening the restaurant for the evening. The first one is on us,” co-owner Kaylan Fullerton explains of the nightly tradition with head chef and co-owner Jason King.” Often everyone joins in just to kick off the night.” This neighborly atmosphere pervades the small log cabin as Kaylan herself greets each entering customer as Jason chats jovially while making roll after exquisite roll behind the bar.
Jason and Kaylan opened King Sushi in August of 2014 with the goal of bringing fresh, artfully prepared fish to Jackson locals. “We have a strong local following,” explains Jason. “A goal of mine was to offer a very well rounded menu. It seems to work.” It certainly does. But how exactly? Passion for the Craft Jason’s passion for fish, and for sushi, is the driving force behind the restaurant. His eyes light up as he describes the process of finding the right purveyor, ordering the fish for next-day delivery, and creating dishes that showcase both the simple flavors of the recent catch and Jason’s creativity. “It’s simple, raw. It’s very artistic,” he describes.
“It’s simple, raw, very artistic,”
Trained at Nikai Asian Grill and Sushi Bar, Jason claims he “fell into” the sushi business. After Nikai, Jason continued to hone his skills at Sudachi, another high-end sushi restaurant in the valley. It was here that he met Kaylan and the two decided to venture out on their own. When the historic cabin on 75 King Street came up for sale, Kaylan said they went for it. “Jason’s last name is King, and he was born in 1975, so it was meant to be,” she explains with a laugh. From the thoughtfully well rounded menu, to the in-house sauces and daily fish orders, Jason’s heart goes into every culinary aspect of King Sushi.
Getting Fresh Fish to Jackson Even in a land-locked state, it takes only 24 hours for the fish to travel from the ocean to your plate. You can taste its freshness biting into one of Jason’s simple sashimis or dressed rolls – you’d probably be having fish just like this in Seattle or Boston. Jason is also conscious about where the fish comes from, making sure it’s caught legally and as often as possible, sustainably. “I know what boat caught this fish,” explains Jason. “It’s all line-caught, regulated fishing. They can catch a certain amount and it’s all depending on seasons. You know, you can’t always get snapper. Right now they’re just starting to catch east coast blue fins. It’s a small, family run business – they go out on their boats, they catch them on lines – not in a dragging net. It’s a sustainable way of fishing.” A Space for Everyone Jason and Kaylan have successfully created an appealing space for high-end restaurant goers and casual locals alike. On a Thursday night in the winter almost everyone at the bar greets the couple by name. But it’s not just this local crowd that enjoys the spoils at King Sushi. “I bring in pretty expensive fish, so you can get an pricey plate or you can go a more inexpensive route. That allows a lot of my friends to sit down and eat,” explains Jason.
In a few months, the atmosphere at King Sushi will change as the burst of summer life takes hold of Jackson. Kaylan and Jason expect their business to increase with this influx and with the opening of their deck. “We opened last August and were able to use the deck. It was great,” says Jason, and they’re looking forward to doing so again. “In the summer the deck is like a little oasis,” adds Kaylan, “It’s jungly – we have vertical walls of flowers and an aquarium mural painted by Mike Tierney. We’re building a new deck this summer with a little standing bar …at least that’s the plan.” Whats Next for King Sushi? In just nine months, King Sushi has made a name for itself in Jackson as a popular local haunt for some of the freshest fish around. One bite of Jason’s tempura fried shiso leaf topped with yellow fin tuna tartar and wasabi aioli and you know you’ve hit upon something special. Introducing the King Sushi staff, Jason commends the experience and talent of his understudies. “We’ve got a couple of guys training,” explains Jason. But with so much of their hearts in the restaurant, Kaylan and Jason do not foresee stepping aside anytime in the near future. Kaylan does see some exciting opportunities for growth, “Lunch on the deck is definitely a goal of ours. Maybe even like pre-made Bento boxes.. We have a lot of ideas, it’s just executing it is the challenge.” See for Yourself When we asked Jason about the most popular dish on the menu, he had trouble choosing just one. He offers trying the Juju or Marley Roll, both house rolls that feature some of his favorite fish varieties. For something a little more filling, order one of the rice bowls or noodle dishes like the Wagyu Don or Pork Ramen. We’d also suggest some of his specialty Sashimi to truly taste the delicious simplicity and freshness in Jason’s menu. If you’re in town in colder months stop in to the cozy and bustling log cabin for the delight of fresh fish once the sake and conversation has warmed you up. In the summer and fall, come see what Jason and Kaylan have set up on the deck under their glow-in-the-dark mural. The fish might change seasonally, but King Sushi’s energy and deliciousness won’t.
King Sushi is located at 75 S King St. For reservations call 307.264.1630 or visit their website www.kingsushijh.com.
Images © Taylor Glenn