With Mott Haven gentrifying, sushi eatery sets up shop

If south Bronxites had a hankering for sushi, their only options were heading out of the neighborhood.

That was until now.

But for Amir Chayon, his venture is not only aimed at making money, but improving the neighborhood through fine cuisine.

“I believe in the neighborhood,” declared Chayon, a string-bean Bronxite and co-owner of Ceetay, the only Asian fusion eatery in Mott Haven’s trendy Bruckner Blvd. antique row.

It sits at 129 Alexander Avenue, just off the boulevard and near the Third Avenue Bridge.

Ceetay quietly opened for business in April, months after the former Alexander’s Cafe, closed.

But on Friday, October 12 the movement known as Art Rapture lent their support to promoting the restaurant, sponsoring a soft opening. DJ Menyu pumped up the beats for the crowd, while customers sampled plenty of Asia fusion meals.

Throughout the night Chayon greeted and mingled with guests.

“Basically I’m inviting them to my living room,” he said.

Chayon arrived from Israel several years ago, working at the neighboring Bruckner Bar & Grill, and teaming up with owner Alex Abeles to expand the variety of restaurants around the nabe.

As Chayon put it, “there was nothing in the neighborhood.”

Chayon and Abeles decided to open a sushhi restaurant.

“A lot of people love sushi,” said Chayon. “It’s a healthier option.”

The pair put their trust on Dorji, a native of the tiny southeast Asia Kingdom of Bhutan in the Himalayas.

Dorji came up with the sushi side of the menu while Abeles completed the rest.

Locals have come to enjoy the reasonably priced food, including Dorji’s Tuna Bruschetta and sushi Rainbow Rolls, two popular appetizers Chayon said are constantly ordered. They’ve already come to know the restaurant’s cozy setting, with trendy Asian décor.

Glass jars converted into interior lights line the open kitchen area while seemingly rustic wallpaper, one-time Chinese newspapers stained with coffee, hug the left wall of the restaurant.

The newspaper recycling was Chayon’s idea, along with the “invented” Ceetay name. “It was a catchy word,” he said.

Both owners are hoping the restaurant will become a trendy hangout spot that will help continue the neighborhood’s growing popularity.

As Chayon put it, “It can be the next Williamsburg.”

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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