Sugoi Sushi is a pop-up that serves wonderful sushi creations that are definitely worth your time. You can find Sugoi Sushi at Urban Eats Thursday – Saturday.

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Member Story Book: Sugoi Sushi 

American Values and Japanese Cuisine 

Cheer for the St. Louis Blues and drink some beer with Daren McLemore. There are only two things this classic American guy values more than sports: family and… sushi? 

“Family comes first, over everything,” says McLemore, owner of Sugoi Sushi. McLemore was raised by his grandmother and a couple of strict parents. He has younger siblings and cousins who come over for parties. McLemore, with his wife and three kids, celebrates his favorite holiday with his favorite people: Thanksgiving with the family.  

Relatives McLemore rarely sees or talks to come together under a roof to “just hang out and do nothing.” It’s the only holiday, McLemore notes, that doesn’t have gifts attached to it. Thanksgiving is genuinely about family. “Everybody’s there to love and be happy.”  

McLemore always brings a non-traditional Thanksgiving dish to the festivities. One sample is the fried rice offered on Sugoi Sushi’s menu.  

Speaking of sushi, what drew the chef to the traditional Japanese dish? “It all started when I had a friend named Marco at Drunken Fish,” McLemore recollects. In 2008, the now-chef worked as a bartender and server at the restaurant. His coworker and friend Marco was the sushi chef. Curious and with downtime, McLemore asked his friend to show him how to roll sushi. “I just fell in love doing it,” says McLemore.  

After a couple of years, McLemore decided to roll sushi professionally. Blue Ocean was his first job rolling sushi, and he spent a couple of years at Central Table Food Hall after that. In 2014, McLemore returned to Drunken Fish, this time as its sushi chef. From 2015 to 2020, McLemore worked at Nippon Tei, which turned into Indo.  

“Now, I’m working for myself,” says the Sugoi Sushi owner. “Hopefully, it will stay that way.” As long as people try and buy his sushi and fried rice, McLemore can work for himself, do what he loves, and support his family.