The signs read only "confidential" for weeks, piquing the interest and curiosity of all the people walking by.
The former Twist Bistro has transformed into a modern sushi restaurant, complete with a sushi bar, a black bamboo wall between the two sides and oversized artwork, done by local artists Lorraine Lawson and Anthony Trayer.
Sushi Confidential owner and Executive Chef Randy Musterer says that although he just moved in this January, he's had his eyes set on this location for the last three years.
"Campbell was kind of my stomping grounds and I have seen it grow over the last 12 years," Musterer says. "So I knew it had to be in Campbell."
A Passion for Sushi
Musterer grew up in San Diego and learned how to fish with his father. By the time he was a teen, he was working as a deck hand of a sports fishing boat and continued to do this through high school and into his college years at Cal Poly.
It was during a summer between semesters in college that Musterer was first introduced to sushi.
“We would work long hours on the boats and the sushi restaurants stayed open late,” he says. “So we would trade them fish for sushi.”
Between the sushi and the social atmosphere of the sushi bar, Musterer was hooked. He went back to Cal Poly to study biology that fall but still had sushi on the mind.
“I cleaned a lot of fish in my life, so I though, I can do this,” he says. “So I started going to fish markets and buying fresh fish, scallops, crab and bring them home.”
Musterer lived with several other students so he would make his creations and offer them up to his roommates.
“They liked it, and then they would tell their friends,” he says. “So I started asking people to bring $5-10 to cover the cost of the fish and come over. We started having sushi parties.”
Once college was over, the young biology major looked for work in the bio tech field but no one was hiring in San Diego.
“Many of my roommates were from the Bay Area so I applied and got offers,” Musterer says.
So he moved to Mountain View and began working in cancer research at a company in Menlo Park.
The sushi parties soon started up once more.
In 2000, Musterer began looking for places to move to and chose Campbell because of cost of living and the sushi he soon found.
“Campbell has a great night life, a great daytime environment. It’s the best of both worlds,” he says. “And the weather is similar to San Diego.”
Musterer continued to commute to Mountain View for the next few years, then to South San Francisco and most recently once again to Mountain View, a total of 100 miles comunting every day.
He was offered a job at , where he worked for 10 years, built his following and launched a catering business, "Sushi Randy."
“I stayed in Campbell because of sushi, my friends and my customers,” he says.
Education, Innovation and Artistry
Musterer describes the food his restaurant will be serving as “Asian-fusion, American–style sushi.”
The restaurant will serve both traditional rolls but also offer up a variety of sandwiches, including seared ahi, seared salmon and potentially a chicken or beef teriyaki.
And although the building already was permitted for the sale of beer and wine, Musterer says he decided to buy a full liquor license in order to serve specialty cocktails that would complement the sushi.
The restaurant will also have ample offerings of vegetarian rolls. Besides the cucumber and avocado rolls traditionally found at many sushi restaurants, Musterer says his vegetarian rolls will have a much larger variety of veggies, including asparagus.
“This is not your traditional veggie roll,” he says.
Musterer says that Sushi Confidential’s motto is:
“Changing the face of sushi through education, innovation and artistry.”
“The type of sushi bar we have, the type of programs we will be a part of, we want to be ahead of the curb,” he says.
Sustainable sushi is something that is important to Musterer.
“I want to educate our customers,” he says. “For instance, eel is almost extinct. The demand is going up and the supply is going down because they are killing them before they can breed. So if you don’t see eel on the menu, I want to educate why.”
Musterer brings to play artistry though the presentation of his food and the presentation of his restaurant. This artistic feel also is seen through the local art pieces hung on the walls as well as the creativity in his various sushi rolls' names.
The confidential rolls have names that throw back to espionage … and two are even named after familiar establishments in the downtown. The ‘by the sea’ and [off the record] were both named after the local businesses.
He worked with The Spot owner Jared Gallo, along with Danny B. Acevedo on the menu cover, logo and photography.
"The Spot recently got their first so they will be able to do more than ‘spin records,’" Musterer says.
And finally, why did "Sushi Randy," as he is known in the sushi community decided to name his business Sushi Confidential?
"We would go to people’s houses, private events, by invite-only and spread word of mouth: sushi confidential," he says. "It would be a flat fee, all you can eat until we ran out. It was special."
Sushi Confidential will be open 11 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.