Walking along Prairie Avenue near Lee Street in Des Plaines, by the little strip mall that includes , an and salon, there is a storefront with the windows completely covered by black shades. There is only one small indication on the outside of what wonderful things are created on the inside — a colorful logo on the shaded door that reads, M Square Sushi and Japanese Catering.
Kazutomo “Tom” Osaki said he founded M Square, 1405 Prairie Ave., with his wife, Miyako Matsubara in 1999 in a small location on the north side of Chicago with about four or five clients. Today, they serve more than 100 hotels, private clubs, convention centers and caterers, and their client list includes The Drake Chicago, Four Seasons Hotel Chicago and the Shedd Aquarium.
Osaki, originally from Tokyo, Japan, has more than 30 years of experience in the restaurant and catering business.
A Niche Business
Osaki said one thing that made his business different from many others was that M Square operates solely as a caterer. Other businesses that produce sushi catering operate a restaurant as well. Osaki said he was unaware of any business in the Chicago area that operated like M Square.
Osaki said he employed primarily part-time workers that he hired based on orders that needed to be filled. He said he purchased ingredients for orders as they were placed, and he did not need to keep his doors open or the lights on when there were no orders to fill.
“Everything I can keep to a minimum; that’s good for the business I think,” Osaki said.
Authentic Japanese Sushi
Osaki said M Square was known for producing authentic Japanese sushi with the best fresh ingredients, including high quality white rice from California.
Osaki said he enjoys introducing authentic Japanese sushi to Americans, but not everyone is familiar with what it is.
“People don’t want authentic; they just want to create it, like sushi with mayo and spicy sauce, that type,” Osaki said.
He said he makes whatever type of sushi clients request, but in Japan that type is not made.
Osaki said unlike the sushi carried at many grocery stores now, which was an Americanized version that has now spread worldwide, authentic Japanese sushi was eaten right after it was made. Authentic sushi was not left in a cooler for days, and the difference between it and grocery-store sushi was evident in the taste, he said.
“It looks like sushi, but it’s not,” Osaki said.