Yama Brings More to the Table

At 18, Jimmy Chang knew exactly what he wanted to be – a sushi master. Today, his restaurant Yama, a bastion of Asian cuisine in downtown Andover, is freshly renovated in anticipation of its third year. Yama succeeded brilliantly in its first two years at Andover. In that time, it revolutionized Japanese cuisine for townsfolk and PA students alike. The Phillipian spoke with Jimmy about what the new Yama has in store for Andover. Phillipian: Exactly what changes were made to the restaurant? Chang: Originally, what we had was 100 percent Japanese food. Mostly, we renovated the kitchen for a fully Chinese menu. That way, customers will have more choice. We added a new section to the kitchen with a new cooking line – Chinese woks and fryers in particular. We also reorganized the inside with more decorations. Our staff also changed from Japanese uniforms to more neutral black and white clothes. Phillipian: What prompted this change? Chang: We served lot of people for almost two years with just Japanese food. Some, especially students, come to try Japanese food, never having it before. But we felt that in the Andover area, a lot of people liked Japanese food and Chinese food as well. We thought we should provide more items for customers. In fact, many of them told us they wished we had Chinese items. Phillipian: How do you feel the changes have been received so far? Chang: A lot of families come now, since we opened this past Tuesday. I used to see families where the husband wouldn’t come – the wife would say, “He doesn’t like Japanese food.” Now, we see the husband! In fact, we seem to attract more gentlemen now, it’s so funny. It’s really good, I can tell people really like the food. Phillipian: Did you have many changes in staff? Chang: One of the owners, Donna, her father was a Chinese chef. He’s been one for 35 years. He came down from Cape Cod to help us. With his help and a couple of his staff, we have a great Chinese kitchen. Phillipian: Do you anticipate any more changes? Chang: We will be set with the Chinese and Japanese for now. We might do a little bit of changing decorations and things, but that’s all. Phillipian: I understand you’re of Chinese heritage. What made you get into sushi? Chang: Japanese is very big in Taiwan. I was a chef there for about 4 years. If you know the history of Taiwan, you know why. [Taiwan was under Japanese rule for the first half of the 20th century] Phillipian: What items do you recommend on the new menu? Chang: We do more traditional Chinese style foods. The chef specials are all really good. Also, we have really good crispy sesame chicken, one of my favorites. Fried peppered calamari is my true favorite though. Phillipian: And for the sushi-lovers, what is your favorite roll? Chang: Firedragon. Without a doubt.