Chariss Madeja-Williams extends Ichi Umi guests Filipino hospitality.


Ichi Umi, an avant garde Japanese sushi and seafood buffet restaurant in midtown Manhattan on East 32nd Street near Fifth Avenue, has been attracting a number of Filipino celebrities visiting the Big Apple — from former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos and Senators Loren Legarda and Pia Cayetano, to famous actors Piolo Pascual, Gina Pareño and Pokwang, and singers Martin Nievera and MiG Ayesa.

Just ask Ichi Umi’s popular Pinay server/attendant, Chariss Madeja-Williams, and she will provide you a Who’s Who of Filipinos who have been there and enjoyed the restaurant’s topnotch food quality, excellent service and a dining ambiance that is unrivaled in buffets.

“My favorite is Piolo because he’s very nice and humble,” said Madeja-Williams, who was born in San Andres, Romblon, and grew up in Manila.

“He’s really very good-looking in person and is very polite. He and his company even said grace before eating.”

But celebrity or not, Madeja-Williams said she and her fellow servers are committed to give first class service to every guest, and make sure that dining at Ichi Umi becomes an unforgettable experience for them.

Front entrance of Ichi Umi on 32nd Street near Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.


The selection of food, according to various reviews, “is much better and has higher quality than most other Japanese buffets.”

But with over 150 items beautifully presented on the buffet menu, it’s impossible for a guest to try all the tempting food on display, desserts included as a bonus.

Aside from the sushi station which boasts a wide array of gunkan, nigiri, maki rolls and hand rolls, there are also gourmet salads, a yakitori and udon station and traditional hot foods.

And customers can overindulge in sashimi, hefty crabs, snow crab legs, and a variety of shrimps, mussels, fish, meat and chicken, among other delectables.

Delicious crabs: Among Ichi Umi’s top favorites.


People of all ages, including those who are on a strict diet or are vegetarians, can also find plenty of options.

A large number of diners at Ichi Umi, according to Madeja-Williams, is Filipino.

And chicken teriyaki and Chilean sea bass rank among their favorites, she said.

“Personally, I would recommend our fresh sashimi because it’s really very good,” she said.

“Our boss (owner Yun Park) personally goes to markets or seaports to select fresh and high quality fish. He doesn’t allow anyone to do it for him.”

Like her boss, Madeja-Williams is well-experienced in the hospitality business.

She’s a hotel and restaurant management graduate in the Philippines, and worked for years at the Saipan Grand Hotel as supervisor in banquet and reservations before she moved to New York after getting married to Marvin Williams, a former assistant attorney general in Saipan, and who is now an attorney for child cases in Orange County, N.Y.

Before working at Ichi Umi, Madeja-Williams was head supervisor at Todai Restaurant at the Galleria in White Plains, N.Y.

No wonder she had been offered a managerial position at Ichi Umi, but had to decline because of longer hours the job requires.

“I’m just happy doing what I’m doing right now because my boss is fair with me,” she said of Park.

“He’s always good to me.”

For more information about Ichi Umi in Manhattan, visit or call 212.725.1333.

You can also visit Ichi Umi in Menlo Park Mall in Edison, N.J.

Call 732.906.2370 for directions and other information.

Chariss Madeja-Williams (l.) with Philippine Star entertainment editor and GMA “Startalk” co-host Ricky Lo.

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