Local Food

Published on November 17th, 2021 | by Jenna Mason


Yūgō Offers Asian Fusion Cuisine on the Oxford Square

Yūgō, a new Asian fusion restaurant on the Oxford Square, opened June 1, 2021. We talked with co-owner A.J. Kiamie about the impetus for the new spot and hopes for the future.

You opened The Sipp on South Lamar in October 2019. Why did you decide to open Yugo so soon after?

Since we had Two Stick behind The Lyric, we’ve always had a soft spot for Asian fusion on the Square. My grandmother actually used to work in the (Yūgō) building when it was a phone company, so that location seemed extra special.

What does Yūgō mean?

It means “fusion” in Japanese.

Tell us about the design of Yūgō .

Claire [Kiamie] did a phenomenal job with that! We designed it to be a sort of Yin/Yang with The Sipp. The Sipp has more of a speakeasy vibe, all black and gold. And Yugo is bright, flowery, and open, with lots of white. We wanted to create a space that feels totally different than anything else in Oxford.

Every restaurant seems to be dying for help right now. How did you build your team?

We have some major team players from The Sipp. Cameron [Bryant] (the executive chef) is doing a phenomenal job—he’s doing the job of four people at The Sipp right now. Since we’re a college town, a lot of our staff is transient, but we try to treat them all like family. We never stop hiring because people leave town and move on. But we focused on hiring people who are loyal, dependable, and work hard, even if they had no previous restaurant experience.

How has the local reception been so far?

Good! Even better than when we opened The Sipp. This football season has helped a lot, but we try to keep focused on our local base. That’s what will sustain us through the slow months of winter and summer, and that’s who we’re here to serve.

What are your hopes for the future?

Right now we’re focused on sustaining and building on what we have. We’re planning to start some monthly themed pop-ups in the spring, inviting guest chefs and letting Cam branch out of the everyday routine. We’d also love to get to where our staff can live a regular life. They’ve been going above and beyond during the hiring shortage.

We’ve heard great things about your wine selection. Tell us about that.

We have over 150 bottles on our list. For fall, we’re excited about our Zinfandels, Cabernets, and Syrahs. I also love our Spanish selections because they pair well with spicier Asian dishes. They’re full of fruit and big-bodied. On Mondays, we offer 50% off every bottle we have.

Yugo is located at 1001 Jackson Avenue East. Hours are Monday through Wednesday from 5 to 10 pm and Thursday through Saturday 5 to 11 pm.

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