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Jason Lin's Latest Venture Is Japanese Cuisine for 'Special Occasions' at River Park
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By Edward Smith
Published 1 month ago on
March 11, 2024

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O-Iza Japanese Cuisine’s “soft opening” is set for Wednesday, March 20.

Restaurant will serve sashimi and Wagyu beef in the return of high-end Japanese food to River Park.

O-Iza marks the third River Park restaurant for owner Jason Lin.


O-Iza Japanese Cuisine won’t be your typical sushi restaurant, says Jason Lin, owner/operator of the new location in River Park.

Beyond the sushi, sashimi, and teppanyaki served at the former World Sports Cafe location, chefs will cook up rib-eye steaks of wagyu beef cooked Japanese-style, Lin said. Lin is the owner of Lin’s Restaurant Group, which operates several restaurants in Fresno and Clovis.

“It’s going to be a more modern Japanese cuisine, a little more on the higher scale and quality and price point — it’s going to be for special occasions,” Lin said.

Some of the meats, desserts, and dishes served at O-Iza Japanese Cuisine. (Special to GV Wire)

First Taste of O-Iza Comes Later This Month

O-Iza will do a soft opening on Wednesday, March 20, Lin said, opening only for dinner. After about a month, the restaurant will open for lunch. Lin wants to focus on unique flavors, just as he does at his other River Park restaurants. Directly adjacent to O-Iza, JPot serves Taiwanese-style hot pot — soups featuring veggies, meats, and seafood.

Jason Lin Portrait
Jason Lin

Turn the corner from JPot, and there is the Lin-operated Spicy J’s, a Szechuan restaurant with twists on culinary classics.

Lin says O-Iza will be perfect for not only dining, but also for birthdays, anniversaries, or parties.

He’ll have rib-eye steaks and sea bass on the menu as entrees. Lin said the steak will be Hokkaido Uni A-5 Japanese wagyu beef, flown over from Japan, just like the seafood.

And, he’ll have Amaebi Japanese sweet shrimp, a traditional way to serve shrimp raw.

The restaurant will also have a large dessert menu.

They will serve teppanyaki, but it will be prepared in the back.

When Lin opened JPot, he took a portion of the 8,500-square-foot World Sports Cafe, leaving 5,000 square feet for O-Iza — or about 60 to 75 tables. A new patio space adjacent to JPot will open shortly after the debut.

“Just trying to bring to the Fresno food scene something different, unique, there’s nothing like that in Fresno yet, I believe. It’s something you would find in the bigger cities like L.A., Frisco, or the San Jose area,” Lin said.

Workers prepare the exterior of O-Iza Japanese Cuisine in River Park Shopping Center, Monday, March 11, 2024. (GV Wire/Edward Smith)

Lin Name Familiar Throughout Fresno

O-Iza will mark the return of sushi to River Park after Yoshino closed in 2020.

The name O-Iza is personal for Lin. He took the “O” from a teppanyaki restaurant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, named Osaka, where he first trained. “Iza” comes from the first restaurant he opened, Izakaya. He opened Izakaya in 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Lin came to Fresno by way of Tennessee in 2003, graduating from Bullard High School. He first came to the Volunteer State in 1996 from China.

O-Iza marks the third restaurant for Lin in River Park. In 2019, Lin opened JPot. Shortly after opening the Taiwanese restaurant, he purchased Dai Bai Dang, which he transformed into Spicy J’s.

Restaurants have shuffled in and out of the location ever since World Sports Cafe closed in 2014. Following that, The Hangar opened in 2019 and closed. Brooks Burgers opened in 2021, only to close its doors the following year.

The Lin Restaurant Group also operates Lin’s Fusion, Hino Oishi, and Rolli Rolli-Fresno, an ice cream shop.

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Edward Smith,
Multimedia Journalist
Edward Smith began reporting for GV Wire in May 2023. His reporting career began at Fresno City College, graduating with an associate degree in journalism. After leaving school he spent the next six years with The Business Journal, doing research for the publication as well as covering the restaurant industry. Soon after, he took on real estate and agriculture beats, winning multiple awards at the local, state and national level. You can contact Edward at 559-440-8372 or at Edward.Smith@gvwire.com.

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