Student Spotlight: Dani Chung, Todoroki Waitress
Medill junior Dani Chung teaches swimming lessons at SPAC, is a member of Chi Omega, plays the cello in NU’s Philharmonia orchestra and travels to Chicago three times a week for a magazine internship. But before winter quarter began, she added the position of waitress at Evanston’s Todoroki Hibachi & Sushi to her list of activities.
Even though Dani worked at SPAC during fall quarter, she says she needed a new job to generate more income.
“I wasn’t working enough hours there, so over winter break I had to figure out what I was gonna do about my money situation,” Dani says.
Todoroki, located at 526 Davis St., officially opened in February 2012 and serves Japanese cuisine. It includes a sushi bar and hibachi grills, where chefs cook in front of customers.
Dani says she normally waits on hibachi customers, although she sometimes works in Todoroki’s main room. Hibachi restaurants aren’t new to her, though – she worked at another hibachi location in her hometown of Eldersburg, Md. for almost three years in high school.
Coming in to Todoroki with previous hibachi experience has helped, Dani says. She says she has also gained customer service skills from past jobs, and college has made her more at ease when interacting with new people – an important skill for a waitress.
“When I worked at the other restaurant, that was my first job ever,” she says. “They kept having to tell me, ‘You have to be louder.’”
Dani says her new job also brings back memories of her old one, especially one particular Sunday at Todoroki while she was cleaning.
“I looked up and I saw Joy Yee’s across the street and Giordano’s down the street,” she says. “It felt like I was in high school again.”
Despite the nostalgia, Dani is still very much present in Evanston. When she first started, she worried about what it would be like to interact with NU student-customers, but she says the job has allowed her to greet students who she does not know so well.
“Every time I see someone that I recognize, it actually allows me to get to actually introduce myself to them formally,” she says.
Dani used to take Arabic classes at NU, and once she even saw a former Arabic professor with some other faculty members at Todoroki. They had a small exchange in Arabic, which Dani refers to as “just a funny little interaction.”
As for Todoroki’s food, Dani receives a 25-percent-off employee discount. Her favorite sushi item? The spicy salmon hand roll. Opting for a hibachi meal is not without its merits though.
“They get to flip knives in front of you and do the corny jokes, like an egg roll, where they roll the egg,” she says. “It’s a fun thing to do if you haven’t done something fun in a while.”
Although Dani is a Todoroki waitress, she’s also a student with a busy life. She says it can be hard to balance her job with everything else, but her tight agenda is helping her use free time more wisely.
“I think it’s good for me personally to have a full schedule to get stuff done, because then I don’t take for granted every half hour break,” she says.
Dani recommends Todoroki’s “All-You-Can-Eat” sushi meal, which offers plenty of food that is relatively worth it if you come hungry. The deal normally costs $16.95 per person for lunch and $22.95 per person for dinner, with a 10-percent student discount, but order it anytime between Sunday, Feb. 17 through Thursday, Feb. 21 because Todoroki will be celebrating its first anniversary with buy one, get one free “All-You-Can-Eat Sushi” (dine-in, main room only).