New sushi restaurant rolls into Kingsburg

Toshiko Izakaya sushi restaurant on Draper Street expands the Swedish village’s food tapestry

Toshiko Izakaya & Sushi Bar located at the west end of Draper St. in Downtown Kingsburg. (Kenny Goodman)
Toshiko Izakaya & Sushi Bar located at the west end of Draper St. in Downtown Kingsburg. (Kenny Goodman)
Darren Fraser
Published May 15, 2024  • 
10:00 am

KINGSBURG – Jacob Marroquin is the manager and one of the chefs at the new Toshiko Izakaya and Sushi Bar in Kingsburg. Trained in classic American French cooking, Marroquin said one of the challenges when preparing sushi is having a sharp knife.

“It’s an art,” he said. “Sushi is a whole different wheelhouse. You have to keep your knife sharp. That’s the biggest thing.” He also said he had to get used to using different seasonings.

Toshiko Izakaya, located at 1300 Draper St. Unit 103, is the third location for the establishment’s owner, David Valenzuela. Valenzuela opened his first restaurant in Hanford, followed by this second in Fresno. The Kingsburg location has been open for just over a month. It is not a particularly large location, with half a dozen tables and booths and a sushi bar. 

Marroquin, who briefly managed the Hanford location, said the Kingsburg opening was not completely smooth.

“We couldn’t sell alcohol for the first two weeks,” he said. “We were just waiting for our final inspection.”

The delay cut into profits initially but the restaurant quickly rebounded.

“A Japanese pub and we’re not selling alcohol,” said Marroquin. “But we’re rolling now. Staying busy. Keeping reservations up.”

Chef Jacob places a dish in the oven in preparation for the evening's dinner service. (Kenny Goodman)

WHY KINGSBURG

Marroquin said people asked Valenzuela why he decided to open the third location in Kingsburg and not Visalia.

“There are a lot of restaurants there,” Marroquin said. “We’d be a drop in the bucket. I know David wanted something a little smaller. He sees Kingsburg as a baby right now. We’re hoping in about five years, it will expand.”

Marroquin said the T-Mobile Call Center will help with the expansion.

“More jobs, a lot more families, which brings more people to the restaurant,” he said.

Marroquin attended the same culinary school as Valenzuela. After graduating, he spent two years working for a catering company in Monterey. After the birth of his son, he said he wanted to find work closer to home. He has been with Toshiko for just over two years.

He manages a staff of 12. The restaurant is still experiencing growing pains.

“If someone calls out sick, it gets a little hairy,” he said.

Toshiko Izakaya & Sushi Bar dining room. (Kenny Goodman)

The restaurant, which is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., is busy most nights.

“We’re steady busy from about 5 until close,” said Marroquin. He said one of the restaurant’s most favored dishes is the pork belly musubi.

“We started selling it at our farmer’s market in Hanford,” said Marroquin. “We sell it from May to October. It’s a super fun dish.”

For Marroquin, one of the biggest challenges to managing a restaurant is finding the balance between his work life and personal life.

“A lot of my work comes home with me,” he said. “I love what I do. I’m always working, My brain is always thinking about the restaurant. Trying to make it better, and (thinking about) how to stay organized.”

He added that not only is Valenzuela a great boss, but he is also a great resource.

“He’s a jack of all trades,” said Marroquin. “He definitely knows what he’s doing.”

Darren Fraser
Reporter