After an unexpected brain tumour delayed the opening of Kiama Downs cafe and burger bar Stacks Eatery, business owner Jason Young thought his successful recovery would mean he could focus on running his small business and spending time with his young family.
For four years, he was in the clear, and Mr Young with wife Emma grew the Stacks Eatery with the support of locals, holidaymakers and day-trippers stopping for breakfast or lunch before or after a swim at Jones Beach.
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Along the way, the couple purchased a neighbouring fish and chip shop, however due to staffing issues brought on by the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2021, decided to shift the concept of the business.
By early 2022, this led to the idea of a quirky, pan-Pacific sushi restaurant and the pair, along with head chef Ridwan Jufri, were preparing to open Cactus Sushi on April 30.
But then the tumour returned.
"I was told that [the tumour] probably wouldn't come back, everything was gone and then it was almost like deja vu," Mr Young said.
Mr Young spent five days in intensive care and the opening was delayed to Friday, May 6.
"We put out the new dates, spread the word through Stacks and we got a really big response from the local community."
With Mr Jufri preparing the dishes, those at the opening were treated to traditional sushi and sashimi, small plates of edamame, kaarage and tempura, and udon soup. But what was flying off the plates were the Cactus signature rolls.
Mr Jufri, who had previously worked at Sydney sushi restaurants such as fine diner Kobe Jones and sushi train early adopter Sushi WOW, was given the space by Mr Jones to develop a number of unique dishes, which showcase the chef's flair.
"Our dishes are Japanese cuisine, but have many influences from Mexican to Peruvian, and even Hawaii," Mr Jufri said.
"They should be a mixture of flavours and cultures in a Japanese style."
This has resulted in the torched double salmon, the volcano - a creamy tempura and avocado roll, and a vegetarian roll of cucumber carrot and avocado topped with seaweed salad and yuzu miso.
Working closely with a dedicated fishmonger, Mr Young said the restaurant sources five star or sashimi grade fish for all of the dishes.
Sitting two doors up from their established breakfast and lunch diner, Mr Young said with Cactus Sushi, he hopes to be able to give locals and visitors a foodie experience at any time throughout the day.
"We've always wanted it to be that you can come to Stacks in the morning and then also, [with Cactus Sushi] you can have dinner as well."
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