LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The foot traffic was plentiful at Oyshi on Sahara Avenue and Tenaya Way, but the staff couldn't keep up.
"You had one [server] on the floor there for two hours. I mean, it took us an hour to get a roll!" said one customer on his way out.
Just inside, groups of people waiting to be seated for lunch recognized why 13 Investigates was there and began debating whether it was safe.
Oyshi got its "A" grade back on June 28. It was shut down for four days after the sushi bar was hit by the Health District with 47 demerits.
"I used to work in the kitchen industry and that's alarming to me," a customer waiting to be seated said.
47 demerits are alarming enough for inspectors to shut the sushi bar down based on demerits alone. But it also had the imminent health hazard of no hot water.
The long wait to be seated gave another group of customers time to think about all that.
"It should be zero demerits," one of them said, as they all agreed to leave and eat elsewhere.
"Basically, what happened that day was the hot water was not working for us," said Manager Michael Yoon.
That explains the imminent health hazard, but not the other violations.
One food handler used a dirty towel to wipe the cutting board and his hands.
Another touched his smartwatch, then continued to make a customer's sushi roll.
"We also had some employees using their cell phone, especially their smartwatches, which that's a violation for the COVID, stuff like that," Yoon said. "So we had that problem going on."
Oyshi also had problems with unsafe food temperatures, uncovered food in the sushi case underneath a condenser line and uncovered scallops in the make table under dirty fans.
Raw beef was directly on top of raw fish in the sushi case.
Washed and cut produce was on a dirty shelf in the make table.
Two containers of utensils were stored in dirty, lukewarm water.
And seaweed paper was stored in dirty containers that were heavily soiled with a buildup of old food and grease.
"There was one thing that kind of jumped out at me," said 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears. "A food handler with greasy gloves was touching handles, dirty equipment, and other surfaces, then began picking unidentifiable black particles out of rice."
"That I did not know," Yoon responded. "If that's what they [inspectors] saw, that's what they saw. And we make mistakes and we're willing to fix it and we are going to fix it and we'll make everything right."
Inspectors also noted heavily soiled hand sinks, a multitude of flies cruising in and out of the sushi bar, and dirty, greasy equipment, surfaces and cutting boards.
"Those problems were only for that day," said Yoon. "It wasn't anything in the past. I guess that day the chefs and everybody were being lazy."
The health code violations suggest problems far greater than just one day.
Equipment interiors, exteriors, and handles were sticky and heavily soiled with dust and old food, as were cabinets, shelves, walls, and floors.
Floor sinks were dirty and clogged, and there was a pungent odor coming from the entry area of the sushi bar.
Inspectors made a specific note about chefs failing to separate utensils, cutting boards and prep areas for raw vs. ready to eat sushi rolls, which is important in preventing cross-contamination.
"We re-trained the servers, all the chefs, the bussers; we re-trained them for the four days. So, we're good right now," said Yoon, adding that being shut down for four days over a busy weekend was a hit to Oyshi's bottom line.
"That's where the money is for most restaurants so, it did make us a big hit. So, we learned our lesson. We definitely learned our lesson and we're trying to put this in the past and go right for the future."
Dirty Dining repeat offender Hwaro, on Decatur Boulevard and Twain Avenue, was shut down on June 22 with 50 demerits.
Hwaro was using its front counter as an unpermitted buffet with lots of food at unsafe temperatures.
Items in the cooler were uncovered and subject to potential contamination.
There was mold in the ice machine, flies in the facility and an excessively dirty slicer and rice cooker stored as clean.
Four cases of raw brisket left on the floor to thaw for approximately 12 hours had to be thrown out. That’s a substantial waste of beef at a time when most restaurants can hardly afford to lose inventory amid rising meat prices.
Hwaro also had excessively dirty scoops touching dry food, and excessive old food dirtied equipment, container lids and walls.
The restaurant was closed “due to several uncontrolled risk factors for foodborne illness," but it was back to a 3-demerit "A" grade on June 30.
The owner had no comment.
The final closure came at repeat offender JJ Noodle Cafe on Spring Mountain and Lindell roads.
It was shut down on June 25 for failing re-inspection from a previous "C" grade.
Repeat violations included improperly cooled beef at an unsafe temperature that had to be thrown out.
All cooler door handles were excessively dirty causing potential for cross-contamination.
Multiple dirty bowls sat in clean storage and the deep fryer cabinet and floors behind equipment were heavily soiled with grease and old food.
JJ’s owner Judy Yang had attended a supervisory conference on June 10 with the Health District, but still failed re-inspection, which meant she was required to stay closed until a food safety consultant was hired and trained staff.
Through that food safety consultant, Yang declined to comment.
JJ Noodle Cafe reopened June 30 with a zero-demerit "A" grade.
Click here to see the health report for Hwaro.
Click here to see the health report for Oyshi Sushi - Sushi Bar.
Click here to see the health report for JJ Cafe.