Specialty rolls on the Ridge

Woody Xie

Photo by Jordonna Lobese

Nestled in the hills of Magalia, on the Skyway, sits an unassuming, cozy little diner-style cottage that is the home of a new restaurant, Sakura Sushi. “Sakura” means “cherry blossom” in Japanese. And although it’s been open only a few months, the restaurant’s friendly staff, delicious food and seasoned chef are all helping this quaint sushi restaurant make a name for itself on the Ridge. Woody Xie is the mastermind behind Sakura. A veteran chef whose native land is China, Xie spent 10 years cooking in Los Angeles and New York before moving his family to Butte County. Three years ago, he and his wife, Jenny, bought Lynn’s Optimo just down the Skyway in Paradise. The nightclub/Chinese restaurant is a popular spot to grab a drink, play pool, lounge on the patio, chow down on some housemade Chinese food and listen to live, local music. Since moving here, Xie has become a role model in Paradise and Magalia, where he employs more than two dozen people at both of his businesses. At Sakura Sushi, the wide selection of menu items—from yakitori and udon soups to sushi combos and bento boxes—are affordable and made fresh while you wait; and the friendly down-home atmosphere almost guarantees you’ll feel like family. Xie has applied for a liquor license, and he expects to obtain it within the next few months, at which point Sakura will serve wine, sake and beer. Xie recently sat down with the CN&R and, as he speaks little English, his son, Mei, a student at Chico State, translated. Visit Sakura Sushi, which is open for lunch and dinner, at 14881 Skyway in Magalia.

What made you want to open a sushi restaurant in Magalia?

I researched it, and I saw the place and wanted to try it. We have no Japanese food here [in Magalia].

How are people hearing about you?

Word of mouth, driving by. If they like it, they return.

How many people do you employ, between the two restaurants?

About 12 to 13 at Sakura and about the same at The Optimo.

What is the most popular choice on the menu?

The Cherry Blossom [with salmon, avocado, tuna and tobiko] and the Las Vegas Roll [salmon, cream cheese and avocado, deep-fried].

Have you been busy?

Yes, both lunch and dinner—about 100 people daily. Weekends are busy.

What else would you do, if you could?

Retire! But [not yet]—it’s a family thing.