This week’s blog is devoted to saying goodbye to a longtime favourite restaurant in Ottawa. C’est Japon À Suisha (formerly Suisha Gardens) on Slater Street is closing its doors on July 1, 2023.

History of Suisha Gardens

This authentic Japanese restaurant opened in 1974. That’s almost 50 years in business. The current owner, Mike Arai bought the restaurant in 1995 from the original owner, Frank Teshima. Mike-san immigrated from Sendai, Japan in 1981 and started as a bartender. To read more about their stories, check out this article in the Ottawa Citizen: The restaurant that introduced sushi to Ottawa is closing; a sad ending in the success stories of two immigrants.

Fun fact: ‘Suisha’ means water wheel in Japanese. Hence, the water wheel out front of the restaurant. It’s become a local landmark for sushi lovers.

Saying goodbye to a longtime favourite restaurant by Colleen Kanna, Photo of Suisha Gardens water wheel by Nora

Suisha Gardens water wheel. Photo by Nora.

In my humble opinion, Suisha Gardens (the name I still refer to it as) offers the most authentic Japanese cuisine in town. It’s known for its high quality sushi and traditional appetizers. I know I’m a bit of a sushi snob being Japanese-Canadian, but it’s a much better option than the all-you-can-eat sushi bars that have become so popular.

My commitment

When I learned that the restaurant’s lease is not being renewed to make way for a condo development, I decided to make a point of eating there once a month until they close. And, so far I’ve had the most delicious dinners every month since January.

I’m mostly joined by friends in the Japanese community because they too are longtime patrons and will miss this mainstay restaurant.

Saying goodbye to a favourite restaurant by Colleen Kanna

Enjoying a meal with friends

My daughter also celebrated her 19th birthday there in May. She’s an avid sushi lover and I wanted her to experience their sushi one last time as an adult.

My favourites

My go-to’s on the menu, which I highly recommend, are the Agedashi Tofu appetizer, any one of their combination or bento box dinner entrées, and Kinran (Matcha cheese cake & ice cream) for dessert.

Saying goodbye to a favourite restaurant by Colleen Kanna, Photo of Agedashi Tofu appetizer

Agedashi Tofu

Saying goodbye to a favourite restaurant by Colleen Kanna, Photo of the Miyuki Combination dinner

Miyuki Combination dinner

Photo of Kinran dessert, matcha cheesecake & ice cream

Kinran dessert

Final celebration

I’m excited to be going one more time on the final day, July 1st. I have the good fortune of being invited by a friend to join their group of 8. We will get to enjoy the food one last time and join in the ‘Arigato’ celebration which includes a performance by Oto-Wa Taiko (Japanese drummers).

I know the restaurant is fully booked for the final day, but you may be able to squeeze in a dinner between now and then. To make a reservation call 613-236-9602 or email: Trust me, you won’t be disappointed! 

And finally, ‘Domo arigato gozaimasu’ to Teshima-san and Arai-san for bringing authentic Japanese food to Ottawa for all of us to enjoy. It’s the end of an era.

Until next time,

~ Colleen

Colleen Kanna

I’m a recovering Chartered Accountant and Breast Cancer Champion turned Fashion Designer. My COKANNA Canadian-made bamboo clothing is all about comfort and style. Giving back to the community is important to me so I support local breast cancer organizations who treat the whole person and not just the disease.