Thirty-five years after it opened as one of the Philly-area’s first authentic Japanese restaurants, Hikaru on Second Street just below South is shutting down, said owner Takashi “Stash” Yoshida.
“I’m 68 years old,” Yoshida explained. “It is time to retire.”
Also a factor: business at the restaurant, which offers a wide selection of Japanese cuisine, from sushi to noodles to plated apps and entrees, has slowed considerably.
At least half of Hikaru’s regular customers seem to have already retired, Yoshida estimated. “Fifty percent moved to Florida,” he said. “Another 25 percent, unfortunately, have passed away. So it’s time.”
When Hikaru — which translates as “to shine” — opened in 1983, South Street “was a go go area” and generally considered the city’s hottest dining destination. Over the decades, that buzz shifted to various other neighborhoods. At one point, the hot spot was Manayunk — where Yoshida operated a second Hikaru from 1993 to 2014.
Yoshida himself is not planning a move to Florida, he said. He’ll stay in the area to watch over his various real estate investments, which include the original Hikaru’s home at 607 S. Second St.
Will another restaurant take its place? Most likely yes, per Yoshida. He’s in discussions with various proprietors now, and it looks like the replacement will serve either Chinese or Thai cuisine.
“Hopefully eventually we will have another Japanese restaurant here,” Yoshida said wistfully.
When he immigrated to Philadelphia in 1972, he recalled, “real Japanese food was rare.” He set up the restaurant as a way to showcase the culture of his native land, with a sushi bar on one side and a dining room with tables and tatami mats on the other.
“I am sad,” Yoshida said about the pending closure. “I will miss the action a lot.”
Hikaru’s last day of service will be Saturday, June 30.