New York Teriyaki defying pandemic odds

Mina Kim and Roy Kang, owners of New York Teriyaki, pose for a photo at their restaurant at 663 S. Lake Powell Blvd. in Page, Arizona. Below: New York Teriyaki cooks whip up some sizzling Korean BBQ.

PAGE – How does a professional baseball player find his way here and open a Japanese-themed restaurant out of the Canyon King riverboat?

Roy Kang, 70, played short stop and third base in a professional Japanese baseball league for 20 years. Once he put his glove and bat away, Kang moved to New York City and embraced the diverse culture of the Big Apple.

In 1998, Kang and his family moved to Yakima, Washington, and eventually opened six New York Teriyaki restaurants.

“Teriyaki is very popular in Seattle. Like Philly cheesesteak in Philadelphia,” said Mina Kim, co-owner of New York Teriyaki and Kang’s sister.

After nearly a 20-year run of operating his restaurants, Kang sold the business and took his family on vacation in January of 2020, when they found themselves visiting Page.

“We fell in love [with Page]. We came here for sightseeing and we saw this boat,” Kim said when they saw the then closed Canyon King Pizzeria. “We fell in love with this boat.”

“Maybe we can do just one more,” Kang said. They were put in touch with Doug Gardner, the landlord of the Canyon King.

“Everyone can be nice to one person, that’s easy, but Doug Gardner is nice to everybody. He is a role model,” said Kim about the relationship that ensued after meeting Gardner.

Along with his wife Christine, Kang and Kim moved to Page in April 2020 and started renovating the Canyon King for the next five months, eventually opening New York Teriyaki in August.

“He (Kang) always says the day of retirement is the day of my death. He has to work. He doesn’t want to wait. His motto is: Never give up. So, we did it,” said Kim about her brother.

Opening a restaurant in a small town on top of a pandemic has its own set of challenges, but faith got them through it. “We were very scared. We are Christian and have confidence we are protected by God. It’s fine and we will do our best. As long as one customer is happy, we are happy. Arizona is brand new to us. Everybody has to have some adaptation. Luckily, God helped us and sent the people. People loved us and we love them,” Kim said

With a lack of international traffic, locals have kept New York Teriyaki team quite busy.

“They aren’t employees, they are my family,” Kang said about his staff of 15.

Kang personally makes the teriyaki sauce every week which takes four hours. It is a secret family recipe that only Kim and Kang know. With what might be the largest menu in Page, Bento boxes, sushi, and Korean BBQ are their most popular dishes.

“We never sell something we don’t want to eat. It’s very high quality. We eat our food every day. It’s very healthy. No MSG, no coloring,” Kim added.

“Money is very important, but we want to build relationships, care for each other, and help each other. [Kang] always says, ‘Don’t chase money, money will follow you if you do the right thing,’” Kim said about her brother’s philosophy. “Once we build our foundation, then we would like to get involved with the community. We want to introduce more people to Page. We picked the [Canyon King] because of its history. And then we are going to add our history to it … a new era.

New York Teriyaki is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is located at 663 S. Lake Powell Blvd. They will be open this Sunday for Valentine’s Day.