Downtown. 61 State St. 577-5222

Wasabi Japanese restaurant has been around for three years and it’s been voted best sushi by City Paper readers for three years. The math speaks for itself.

It’s good food and good people. John Tang and his wife Wendy, his cousin Tommy, and sister Vanna run the show there.

John and Tommy like Budweiser draft, and they love South Carolina. Friendly people, they say, and the weather reminds them of home.

John is from Hong Kong. He moved to New Jersey in 1983, leaving Hong Kong to find a new world, a new future. Then he moved to New York and ventured south to Georgia, where he met Wendy in 1986, and they ended up in Charleston. John’s been working in restaurants all his life.

Starting as a chef in Lowcountry restaurants, he decided to try his hand at opening his own eatery, which he named Wasabi, after the sinus-cleansing green goop.

By day, Wasabi is a family-friendly hibachi grill with a sushi bar that sells those big cans of Sapporo. By night, it’s a loud night club roaring with binge drinkers from all walks of life coming together to slam some sake shots and indulge in the weekday drink specials. John and his gang have a good time running Wasabi. They meet all kinds of customers who become friends in real life and Myspace, John says.

People are sometimes scared of sushi, but Wendy, John, and Tommy swear that it’s an addictive food — once the taste is acquired.

“You’ll think about it every day, or every other day,” John says. He loves tuna and salmon sashimi. He recommends starting with the California roll to get the feel for sushi, and moving up to shrimp tempura roll (girls love it) before trying something chewy and weird like octopus.

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