A San Jose confectioner creates sushi sweets

Karen “Suedy” Sasaki has no formal training in the art of sushi, but you would never guess it from seeing her creations. Walking around her tiny San Jose shop, she points to obento boxes and small plates displaying artistic Japanese delicacies.

You’ll see all the sushi bar classics: ebi (shrimp), maguro (tuna), ikura (salmon roe), and California roll with a smattering of bright orange tobiko (flying fish roe). But this is no ordinary sushi. One bite and you’re in for a surprise. At this family-run business, aptly named Suedy’s Koo-Ki Sushi, these works of art are handmade from crisp cookies and Belgian chocolate.

The base of the maguro sushi, for example, is cookie rice, the tuna on top is strawberry chocolate with a milk chocolate hazelnut filling, and a dab of green tea–flavored confection poses as wasabi. Such attention to detail makes Koo-Ki Sushi top grade.

Inspired by her Japanese American grandmother’s traditional sushi, Sasaki originated the idea after seeing an announcement for a cookie decorating contest in 1993. Collaborating with her late sister, she realized their concoction could go way beyond a contest entry. After much trial and error and a few chocolate classes, she has perfected a chocolate lover’s dream.

The sushi is so realistic that some customers can’t bear to indulge in the masterpieces. “One woman asked me if they could be lacquered,” Sasaki laughs. “I just think that if you create something that makes someone’s day, you really can’t do better than that. It’s the best part of the business.” And a testament of Sasaki’s sweet success.

Some call it kooky

Suedy’s Koo-Ki Sushi (from $10; closed Sun–Mon; 830 Jury Court, Ste. 1, San Jose; www.kookisushi.com, 866/465-6654, or 408/947-8294).

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