Daruma Japanese Sushi & Steak House is a luxurious dine-in restaurant located five minutes away from downtown Daphne, Alabama. In addition to providing authentic and splendid Japanese food, Daruma offers comedic and musical programs to entertain customers.
•Name: Daruma Japanese Sushi & Steak House
•Location: 27955 US Highway 98 Suite # S-T, Daphne, AL 36526
•Cuisine: Japanese Food, Steak House
•Restaurant Concept: Upscale
•Offers: Dine-in, Party room
•Signature Dish: Teriyaki Chicken, Tempura Udon Soup, Daruma Special Roll, Daphne Roll, Hibachi Daruma Special For Two
•Year of establishment: 2005
•Phone: (251) 626-8886;
•Owner: Mr. Lin
Having fun with Daruma
The surrounding area is always active with foot traffic. A hospital, super market, gymnasium, and many shops are available nearby in this business section of town. Daruma’s door sits embedded in a large shopping center that provides a natural business advantage for the restaurant. A stable stream of customers is therefore guaranteed.
The dining area is 4800 square feet and provides more seating than you’d imagine- up to 200 people can comfortably be seated in the dining area. Generally, the space is separated into four sections with different themes such as the Sushi Bar area, Hibachi area, Main Dining area, and D2 Lounge area (a functional space for full bar and Karaoke stage).
The Japanese style décor and soft lighting create a welcoming feeling. The owner, Mr. Lin, explains that “Our comfortable lighting effect allows you to really plunge into the relaxing environment.” Japanese cultural elements- like vases, paintings, and other classical ornaments neatly fill the main area. Finally, there are four big TVs hung on the walls to provide entertainment to the guests. Upon entering Daruma, you will find elegant and graceful music sound wafting throughout the area. “The total decoration is not very sumptuous or luxurious, but what attracts me is the homey feeling here,” said one of our customers, “I like the peaceful feeling and comfortable environment here, so I recommend Daruma to my friends,” explained another.
What makes Daruma stand out from other restaurants though is not only the authentic Japanese food or the welcoming environment. Instead, the entertaining shows that are performed at Daruma are what set it apart. A comedy program is held once a month. The two hour show (from 8:30pm to 10:30pm) really brings joy to the assembled guests. “However, this program alone is not enough to satisfy all customers, therefore, we have additional programs, a musical show is regularly conducted once a week, we invite some bands to present us entertaining performance,” explained Mr. Lin.
Authentic food lures your palate
The music and comedy aren’t the only attractions at Daruma. Authentic Japanese food, like Sushi, Teriyaki, Hibachi, and many other traditional cuisines are offered on a nightly basis. The sushi is famous for its authentic taste and fantastic variety- guests are always surprised by the exciting creations!
A large restaurant like Daruma needs a large amount of dishes to satisfy customers’ various preferences. “Our food is prepared in a variety of ways like handmade, grilling, stir-frying, and pan-frying…etc. No matter what kind of Japanese food you like, Daruma can meet your personal requirement,” boasted the proud owner.
There are so many signature or best-selling dishes served in Daruma that even the owner is unsure of the top three dishes. The Teriyaki Chicken, Daruma Special Roll, Tempura Udon Soup are among the varied and favored dishes of the restaurant. These three are frequently ordered, and please the palate of most customers. The Teriyaki Chicken is made from high-quality plant oil basted on white chicken; the chicken is then grilled to a deep golden color, and then placed on a hot iron pan full of cabbage, onion, Chinese cabbage, carrot and broccoli. Finally, the chef pours the teriyaki sauce and sprinkles sesame on the dish,
At Daruma, one of the rules of the house is to update the menu frequently. On average, the restaurant offers two new dishes every month. “In my perception, the regular change on the menu helps us attract visitors coming back regularly; they come back for the new taste and new experience. Many regular patrons expect a lot for the next time after trying our new dishes,” said Mr. Lin.
Much more than the amiable service
First-rate service is absolutely guaranteed at Daruma. The owner sees to it that every visitor is treated as a VIP: “All of our staff members are well trained to offer efficient and passionate service, they are all equipped with the sense of customer service [and an] amiable smile is always on their faces. The professional service is guaranteed.”
As a large and ambience-oriented dine-in restaurant, visual appeal matters a lot in creating a well-kept environment. The staff regularly cleans the whole restaurant on a daily basis, and they also perform a thorough cleaning every week. Each corner is thoroughly wiped and washed. “Everything we present to customers is absolutely clean and immaculate,” Mr. Lin believes. “Customers may set their mind at rest…our excellent sanitation leaves good impression on customers … they always give us high praise!”
Speaking of the relationship with customers. Mr. Lin is happy to report that “we treat each other as good friends, freely talk, frequently visit. On some special days, like traditional festivals, I often invite some regular customers to join us.” Besides,. his communication with his staff reveals the secrets of successful management: “We often discuss the problems and come out with a specific solution together on the weekly meeting. Staff members are very active in analyzing or summarizing the management issues during the meeting.
Despite fierce competition when the restaurant first opened, dedication has paid off. “On the one hand, I continue to enforce our management level with the down-to-earth attitude; on the other hand, concrete measures were adopted… like doing more advertisements, and offering some new dishes according to the demand of customers.” Little by little, Daruma became a lucrative business.
Customers come to Daruma not just for the food, but also for the entertainment and atmosphere. “Fantastic food, considerate service and entertaining dining, these are the basic standard to be a good restaurant,” Mr. Lin stated.
What kind of owner can reach the success?
Mr. Lin came to America in 2000, and first started his culinary career as a busboy, server; and then, shortly thereafter, he was promoted to be a kitchen helper, and finally, head chef in a Japanese restaurant. “I tried all kinds of jobs in a restaurant, knowing the A to Z of how to run a restaurant. After five years accumulation in experience and economy, I decided to make a big step- running my own restaurant.” In 2005, with the help of a partner, Daruma was opened to serve local customers.
In his spare time, Mr. Lin enjoys spending time with his family and listening to music. A naturally mellow person in work and out, he ascribes to a “down-to-earth” working attitude, and never yields to hardship or challenges. So far, Daruma is still not a chain restaurant, no branch is under Mr. Lin’s recent plan due to the gloomy economy. Maybe in the future, several years later, as the situation gets better, the owner may plan to expand the restaurant into a small chain.