Veteran Tampa Bay chef returns from retirement with sushi, jazz bar in downtown Clearwater

CLEARWATER — Behind his sushi bar on Cleveland Street, Charlie Lam slices fresh fish and vegetables exactly how his parents showed him as a child in Vietnam.

The recipes are the same ones he’s been repeating since he first started making them in his family’s restaurant at age 10.

Lam, 59, landed in Detroit in 1979 as a refugee of the aftermath of the Vietnam War and found his way to Tampa Bay in 1981 in search of warm weather and place to share his cooking. Since his first Chinese restaurant, Kimbo in St. Petersburg in 1985, to the 10-table Kaiko that operated in east Clearwater for two decades, not much has changed about Lam’s approach to his craft.

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