WESTFIELD, NJ — A Westfield sushi restaurant that has repeatedly failed health department inspections must now submit a plan to the town detailing how the ownership will remedy the violations.

Last week, the owner of Nagoya Japanese Restaurant appeared in front of the Westfield Board of Health, which decided the restaurateur must submit a written plan detailing how he will fix the violations of the health code. Those issues have ranged from improper hand washing and food storage to a problem with cockroaches, officials said.

“Over the course of the last two years, there have been things like improper hand washing continuously … improper sanitizing of equipment and utensils and improper food storage as well, just to name of few,” said Westfield Health Officer Megan Avallone, during the board hearing held via Zoom.

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The restaurant’s owner, Xuchin Chang, appeared for the virtual board of health hearing with his son translating for him.

“We’ll make sure to improve and to demonstrate to the restaurant, to the workers that we should improve sanitation and move on from there,” Chang said.

Board members referenced a Nov. 19 re-inspection that yielded an “unsatisfactory” result, an inspection on Nov. 20 that yielded “conditionally satisfactory” result and a Dec. 18 re-inspection that left the restaurant with a “conditionally satisfactory” rating.

“We’re especially concerned because this is a risk level four establishment. They are serving sushi, which by itself is a dangerous food item if it’s not stored and handled correctly,” Avallone said.

She said that the department has over the past two years dedicated significant resources to educating Nagoya on proper safety practices.

“We have to make sure that the food products are safe and by us going in doing our inspections and our one-to-one education over the last two years, we’ve been unable to bring them to that point,” Avallone said.

She said that in a typical situation, the department would mandate that the restaurant close for two days if it does not satisfactorily meet additional inspections. During the pandemic, however, that action is looked at differently, Avallone said.

“I certainly realize that that type of action is weighted a lot differently now than it has been in past years just because restaurants have been so hard hit,” she said.

Board members agreed that because of the language barrier, the restaurant should submit a written plan detailing how the owners will remedy the violations.

The board approved Avallone’s recommendation that such plan be due by Jan. 25.

“They’ll submit a plan within two weeks, and then we’ll be in that following week to make sure they’re actually adhering to the plan that they developed,” she said.

One problem, the health officials said, appears to have been remedied: roaches.

Health inspector Helen Mendez said that the department had previously shut down the restaurant due to the cockroaches and one particular interaction with the owner involving the insect detailed a lack of understanding about hand washing.

“I asked them for their food handler training certificate and there was a dead roach in there at that time. He crushed it, threw it onto the floor and then proceeded to go back to food prep without washing his hands,” Mendez said. “We had a long conversation about everything there.”

The restaurant, she said, has pest control services and during the department’s most recent inspection, “It seemed as if the roach problem was under control.”

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

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