Dining Spotlight

Discover Brentwood's local food scene!

Chelsea Fusion

Chelsea Fusion

Modern Japanese Cuisine

 Sam Lee immigrated to the United States in 1994 when he was just 18 years old. Being born in Vietnam and growing up primarily in China, Sam knew no English when he relocated. Without any previous work experience in the States, Sam figured his only option was to enter the restaurant industry.
 
“When I moved to the United States from China, I didn’t really have a choice but to enter the restaurant business,” said Sam. “There aren’t a ton of options.” Living in Berkely at the time, Sam started at the bottom and worked his way up to the manager position in a local establishment. Sam was eventually drawn out to Brentwood by a managerial position at Mikado Bistro on Sand Creek Road. Initially he was commuting from Berkeley, but after falling in love with Brentwood, he knew that’s where he and his family should be. “I had gotten married and had kids and knew I wanted to settle down,” said Sam. “Brentwood had families and nice weather, and we loved this area.”
 
 
After years of working for other people, it was time for Sam to be his own boss. In 2017 he opened Enishi Kitchen on Balfour Road, offering sushi and other Asian-inspired dishes. Sam impressed the community with his culinary skills there for years before selling the restaurant and opening up Chelsea Fusion in 2020 in downtown Brentwood. “I sold Enishi, even though it was my baby, because I just wanted something smaller,” said Sam. “When COVID happened it really changed my mentality and made me think about my time, my family, and myself. I had sacrificed my life for the restaurant, and it wasn’t worth it.” So, Sam opened up a smaller restaurant in the heart of downtown, named in honor of his now 11-year-old daughter. “Smaller is more manageable; I’m happier and there’s less pressure. Plus, now I get to spend more time with my daughter.”
 
 
Despite opening during the pandemic, Chelsea Fusion has continued to thrive, thanks to the massive support of the community. The restaurant offers fusion cuisine, boasting a mix of Americanized sushi and Japanese dishes, as well as a variety of sauces made in-house. “Everything is simple but tasty,” said Sam. “That’s what people come in for. We have something for the whole family.” Sam has fresh fish delivered every day, guaranteeing that the restaurant’s sushi is always top notch. “People ask why our fish tastes different. It’s because it comes daily. I pay a higher price for the quality, but I don’t mind because sushi is all about how fresh your fish is. You can’t just throw it in the freezer and pull it back out in a couple days.” Sam says that the most popular dishes at Chelsea Fusion are, of course, the sashimi, as well as the chicken wing appetizers. “We have a lot of really good appetizers.”
 
Providing the community with delicious, fresh cuisine isn’t Sam’s only passion. He also wants to share his knowledge with the next generation. “I want to teach them so that they can open up their own restaurant one day,” said Sam. “I really don’t mind sharing my ideas and secrets. I’ll share with anybody. I want the next generation to know how to run a business and what it takes to be successful.” Sam attributes this goal to the family he worked for at the Berkely restaurant. “That family taught me a lot. I came here knowing no English and they really helped me. They instilled in me to be humble, work hard, stay true to myself, and try to help people as much as you can.”  
 
 
As for Sam’s future, he would love to open one or two more locations in the Brentwood area, keeping the menus small and simple. “I want to bring real ingredients to the community,” said Sam. “That’s always my goal. Maybe next will be a small noodle shop with simple, fresh ingredients. I don’t want to eat at a restaurant and be able to taste the MSG. Nobody wants to go home feeling thirsty. That’s not the good stuff.” Sam also plans to open up a boba tea shop next door to Chelsea Fusion where Crème de la Gem was previously. “We wanted something for the kids.” No matter where the future may lead, Sam’s heart is in downtown. “I love Brentwood, especially downtown. It has a certain culture within the city. People walk by and say hi; they support me.”
 
 
Contact: (925) 392-8868
Address: 622 First Street, Brentwood, CA 94513

Photos by: Ron Essex Photography 

 

 

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Brentwood is one of the fastest-growing cities in the nine-county Bay Area and offers a strategic location that connects: the SF Bay Area, Central Valley, Tri-Valley, and Sacramento Delta.

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