The Wegmans at the Village at Valley Forge in King of Prussia is having a “Sushi Fest” Friday and Saturday, where the company flies in fresh fish from around the world for a two-day event mirrored after Tokyo’s Toyosu fish market.
At noon each day of the event, the brass bells start ringing and there is a “Maguro no Kaitai” show, literally a tuna filleting event that includes a whole, farm-raised bluefin tuna cut with a 6-foot knife and portioned out throughout the crowd, while a live stream video projects this action onto screens for onlookers not immediately near the cutting table. Final cuts are styled into “saku blocks,” which are available for purchase.
There is also a game like “rock-paper-scissors,” where the winners get a free package of fatty rib meat called nakaochi, executives said, and an auction of toro, or fatty belly meat. Customers can order various sashimi, such as octopus from Toyosu and scallops from Hokkaido, , among other delectables.
This is the second time Wegmans has hosted this event at the King of Prussia location because it is one of the company’s busiest stores, and is close to a large Japanese population. Also, seafood sells well, said John Emerson, the company’s senior vice president of restaurant foods.
“We fish where the fish are,” Emerson said, later adding “any time we’re right on the outskirts of a big city like Philadelphia, … there are a lot of well traveled people, and young people who are adventurous and looking for that food."
This event occurs at up to three locations annually since 2010 and is not an indication that Wegmans is expanding into the Philadelphia urban market anytime soon.
“Our real estate team is always looking for new opportunities, but we don’t have any current plans that are being announced,” Valerie Fox, a company spokesperson, said.
Wegmans has a slow growth model, meaning that it opens just three stores per year, Fox said. Later this year, the company will open its first New York City store in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard and has plans for a store in Washington, D.C., she said. The Brooklyn store is planned to be 74,000 square feet.
For the Sushi fest, “we have as many as over 1,000 people turn up to the event and quite often they’re Japanese families and it’s so important for them to see foods from their hometown,” Emerson said.
Sometimes shoppers travel 100 miles for the event and the goal is to sell out within two days, he said.
“It means a lot be able to show their children, that maybe they had since they moved to America, what they grew up eating,” Emerson said. It also “opens a lot of our regular customers eyes to ingredients they don’t usually see here.”