Ever get a hankering for healthy Japanese food? Luu’s Chicken Bowl is looking to satisfy those cravings with its new Lodi location, set to open today on Kettleman Lane.

The family-owned restaurant has become a popular staple in Stockton, where it has been around since 1994.

“The first location we ever opened was the (East) March Lane location, and since then we have been expanding,” owner David Luu said.

Luu credits the exquisite flavor and simplicity of their menu items for restaurant’s popularity. Luu’s Chicken Bowl features traditional Japanese Donburi bowls, which typically consist of some type of fish, meat, vegetables and other ingredients simmered together in sweetened or savory stews that are served over rice.

“It’s a filing dish, but it’s also very light at the same time. We don’t use a lot of oil, and we offer brown rice. We try to keep our bowls as healthy as possible, but they are still very flavorful,” Luu said.

The restaurant led to a second eatery being opened on Pacific Avenue in Stockton, along with a third location in Manteca.

Now, Luu’s Chicken Bowl is coming to Lodi, after local patrons encouraged Luu to open a restaurant here.

“So many people asked us to open up a place in Lodi, and we were told about the location on West Kettleman Lane where the old Arby’s was, and we asked our Realtor to look into the property,” Luu said.

The property was an ideal location due to its proximity to the busy thoroughfare and because of the drive-thru, Luu said. Despite the optimal location, the renovations to the property were considerable.

“We had to fix and update 75 percent of the restaurant,” Luu said. “The roof had leaks in it, which led to water damage on the floor. We had to replace most of the kitchen and the interior seating and fixtures.”

In addition to the improvements made inside the restaurant, Luu also made cosmetic updates to the building’s outside exterior to better attract customers.

“Opening this restaurant has made me so nervous. I think I lost five pounds from all the anxiety,” he joked.

Still, Luu is confident that his restaurant will be well received by Lodians.

“We are flexible with our menu. We like to accommodate all tastes, which is why we added eggrolls and wings to our menus based off community recommendations,” he said.

The soft opening of the restaurant is at 11 a.m. Friday, and Luu is providing a free drink with every order to customers on opening day.

The official ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce is scheduled for June 1.

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