By Emily Yao ‘20
With its chic layout, calming music humming in the background, and cozy atmosphere, Lily’s Asian Cuisine and Sushi Grill is an exceptional place to relax, eat, and meet with friends or family. It is located in the center of downtown Kennett Square, right next to Talula’s Table.
Indian Post interviewed Lily’s owner, Suki, to learn about how she developed her successful business and about what makes Lily’s stand out amongst the plethora of other Asian restaurants in the area. *These responses have been translated into English from Chinese.
Indian Post: When and why did you decide to open a sushi/Asian restaurant? Did you have any past experience with restaurant managing?
Suki: I opened Lily’s eight years ago (in 2010) because when I arrived here in Kennett Square, I noticed there were absolutely no Asian restaurants. And it made me wonder—if I were to open an Asian restaurant, I would be bringing even greater diversity and knowledge of other cultures to my new community. Yeah, I remember, when I first came to America, my first job was at a restaurant—I packaged dishes and ran errands as a bus girl. And this job provided me with the service experience I needed to interact with and become familiar with my customers, which really helped me succeed.
IP: How have nearby Asian restaurants like Tsunami and Kooma in West Chester impacted your business?
S: The Asian restaurants nearby have little to no influence on our restaurant because we are following separate paths. Each restaurant has its own specialty, and at Lily’s our specialty is adding less sugar and oil, never using any GMOs, and putting in the effort to provide fresh, quality meals that are both delicious and healthy for our customers. We buy our p
roduce from places like the Amish Market and aim to create meals that our customers love. In addition, since Lily’s opened, we have always had a gluten-free version of our menu, so everybody can eat at Lily’s!
IP: Why do you think Lily’s is so popular in our community?
S: I actually never really thought the restaurant was that popular, but I’m guessing it’s because our prices are pretty reasonable, and we offer dishes that are on the healthier side. We also have, at Lily’s, a more comfortable and cleaner environment because we’re always aiming to make a great first impression on first-comers.
IP: How did you come up with unique dishes like the Dragon or Dynamite Roll?
S: My husband is an excellent chef and loves experimenting in the kitchen. He actually came up with everything on the menu from our House Salad with homemade ginger dressing to our
numerous Lily’s specialty rolls.
However, if there is an especially successful dish offered at another restaurant, we will look into it and determine if it fits into our menu, and adjust the recipe to fit our “Lily’s style” or make it unique at Lily’s. For example, at Lily’s we have Orange Chicken on the menu—you have probably tasted this at other restaurants or bought it from the grocery store—but our Orange Chicken is very different because we will create our own sauce, use only organic and natural ingredients, and aim for that perfect crispy texture for every dish.
We are always competing with others to make the best dishes and provide the best service.
IP: What are your most popular dishes? Most popular sushi rolls? Which is your personal favorite?
S: The Bluefin Tuna tasting has been very popular lately. It’s a big platter of Bluefin Tuna varieties like the chutoro, otoro, and the Bluefin Tuna tata (which are different sections of the fish).
We also have a weekend special—from Thursdays to Sundays—called the Moriawase Sashimi that has been probably even more popular than the Bluefin Tuna tasting. Basically this is a box of sashimi, and because we get the fish from a Japanese fish supplier who flies it directly to New Jersey (where we pick it up), and since the fish offered in the box vary by season, the fish is very fresh and of good quality.
My favorite dish is the Mongolian Beef and the Chilean Sea Bass, which is paired with crab fried rice. My favorite roll is probably the Dragon Roll. (For those who don’t know what the Lily’s Dragon Roll is, it includes shrimp that is wrapped and fried in phyllo, which is then rolled in rice, topped with avocado slices and barbequed eel, and finally drizzled with a sweet eel sauce.)
IP: What time of the year is the busiest? Which days of the week tend to be the busiest?
S: The busiest time of the year is during winter/Christmas break and Mother’s Day. And because we have All-You-Can-Eat sushi Tuesdays, that day is oftentimes the busiest day during the week. Fridays and Saturdays are also relatively busy, but not as busy as Tuesday is.
IP: What kind of customers do you receive the most of?
S: We have a fair number of teenagers who come between 3pm to 5pm—right after school—but most of our customers are families.
IP: What plans do you have for your business in the future?
S: Well, I want to make it clear that I don’t ever plan on opening a Lily’s restaurant chain in the future. I feel like if I do so, I will lose being able to improve the quality of my restaurant, and it’ll be very difficult to give each restaurant the necessary attention and care it deserves. Lily’s is like my little baby, and I want to focus solely on improving and keeping it open for years and years to come.