San Mateo’s Suruki stays busy


A BOOMING MOM-AND-POP ? Suruki Supermarket in San Mateo, Calif. is known for its sashimi, according to co-owner Ken Suruki. photo by Derek Tahara/Nichi Bei Weekly

SAN MATEO, Calif. ? In the 1970s, the late Shuji Suruki started selling groceries out of his truck, driving from Sacramento, Calif. to Salinas, Calif. A decade later in 1980, he opened the first Suruki Supermarket in Burlingame, Calif. In 1990, he moved the store to its current location in downtown San Mateo, Calif.

“All of his brothers and his dad were landscapers and he just wanted to do something different,”? Ken Suruki, who co-owns the market with his sister, Misako, sister-in-law, Mindy and his mother, Ryuko Suruki, said of his father to the Nichi Bei Weekly in a phone interview.

Suruki Supermarket is known for its fish, specifically, its sashimi, Ken Suruki said. The market currently employs more staff cutting fish than it did prior to the pandemic, Suruki noted. The market once had “about only four people cutting fish, now on the weekends, we could have up to eight or nine people cutting fish at a time,”? he said.

In addition to selling sashimi and other fish, the supermarket sells a variety of bento, including karaage, chicken and salmon teriyaki, among others, Suruki said.

Unlike many businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, the supermarket has thrived. Suruki believes it is because “everyone is eating at home rather than going to restaurants.” He added, “the last year-and-a half has been really busy,”? and estimates the supermarket’s sales have increased by 50 percent. Additionally, the supermarket has increased the number of employees from 30 to 40, he said.

Suruki Supermarket sells a variety of bento. photo by Derek Tahara/Nichi Bei Weekly

James Yang, a customer who resides in San Mateo, Calif., who stood outside of the supermarket waiting for the 4 p.m. half-off sale to begin, told the Nichi Bei Weekly he shops at the supermarket because “it’s a small store that I can support locally and all the staff are very nice and it’s just well run.”?

Yang added that it has a “wide variety of Japanese food and supplies,” and praised the items’ quality and prices.

In 2019, the supermarket took over the Sozai Corner sushi and bento business, which Suruki’s cousin ran.

Oidon, a Japanese restaurant, which was run by one of Suruki’s relatives, and located above the supermarket, closed in 2019, Suruki said. The restaurant provided catering services for the supermarket.

Suruki Supermarket is located at 71 East 4th Ave. in San Mateo, Calif. Its hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information, including to order items online for pick-up at the store, visit or call (650) 347-5288.

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