Now, nearly 20 years later, they own and operate six restaurants in the Chicago area, plus another in Kansas.
The newest Sushi House location opened late last month in Downers Grove. The restaurant sits in the heart of the downtown area, just across the street from the Main Street Metra Station.
Diana Johnson's brother, Simon Wang, serves as co-owner and head chef at the new restaurant. After living in the village about a decade ago, he is excited to bring the Sushi House experience to Downers Grove.
"I used to live here 10 years ago, so I've always really loved this town and thought it would be a great place to open a restaurant one day," Wang said. "We have a strong customer base here because of our restaurant in Westmont, so it was just a matter of timing and finding the perfect location."
Wang and Johnson eventually found the perfect site at 950 Warren Ave., the site formerly occupied by 2 Toots Train Whistle Grill. The strip mall also houses Scarletti's Italian Kitchen, Every Day's a Sundae, Zano Salon and Spa, Borrowed Earth Cafe and State Farm Insurance.
"It's a lovely neighborhood," Wang said. "We're lucky to be part of it."
Wang's love of sushi started shortly after he graduated from college in Beijing.
"I always loved Japanese cuisine. It's an art," Wang said. "I realized right after college that it was something I wanted to study and pursue for a career."
Wang immediately began studying and practicing under master Japanese chefs, who taught him how to handle fish and prepare fresh ingredients. He refined his skills at the five-star Otani Chang Fu Gong Hotel in Beijing before immigrating to the United States in 2000.
Wang has spent the past 13 years working alongside sushi chefs in several different restaurants, including those owned by his sister and brother-in-law.
"It's important to spend time learning from the master chefs," Wang said. "They are the ones who teach you about quality and tradition."
At Sushi House, patrons can expect traditional Japanese cuisine with a modern influence, Wang said.
Menu items include sushi, noodles, appetizers, soup and salad. Popular sushi selections include the Angry Crab Roll, the DG Roll and DG Style Sashimi, Wang said.
The Downers Grove location features lunch specials, sophisticated dinner options and a grand Tea Room for special occasions. Outdoor seating is also available.
Sushi House Downers Grove is open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, call 630-968-0088 or visit www.mysushihouse.com.