Le Nguyen spent nine years training under his uncle at a Japanese restaurant to learn the art of making great sushi.
And when the time came to open his own space, he scoured Vancouver and Burnaby to find just the right spot. He eventually settled on Edmonds Street where, in December 2010, he opened Osaka Island Japanese Restaurant.
"I could see how this area is growing," said Nguyen. "The swimming pool is opening soon, there are so many new apartments and there are so many people moving to this area."
For more than two years, Nguyen, along with wife Phuong and nephew Ryan, have steadily built the business up, but the emphasis hasn't changed.
"I make sure we buy the freshest ingredients and we prepare everything in-house every day," said Nguyen. "That's what I learned from my uncle and that's what I'm trying to teach Ryan."
Nguyen said he takes a special satisfaction from watching his customers finish off their dishes and he's always looking for ways to improve.
"If someone doesn't finish, I ask them why," said Nguyen. "Usually, it's because they want to take it home for later or for lunch."
The restaurant, which seats 56 people, is open six days a week, closed on Mondays.
As for the name of the restaurant, Nguyen knows that Osaka isn't an island, but he wanted to have Osaka in the name.
When he discovered Osaka Japanese Restaurant was already in use, he added Island to the name because it brought back the good memory of his successful escape from Vietnam years ago. (His story was profiled last month in the Burnaby NOW.)
Osaka Island Japanese Restaurant is located at 7617 Edmonds St. To order takeout or make a reservation, call 778-3978884. For more information, go to www. osakaisland.com.