Ninja sushi chef brings a knife to a gun fight — and takes robber down

An Illinois man picked the wrong place for Japanese takeout.

He was trying to take out some cash, armed with a pellet gun – but a blade-flashing sushi chef stood it his way.

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From left: Yuji Niizuma, Joe Pendzialek, waitress Aichan Mitsuhashi-Acs and hero sushi chef Tetsuji Miwa.
(News-Gazette photo)

According to the Champaign News-Gazette, the incident occurred Tuesday at the Kamakura Japanese restaurant in Champaign when 23-year-old Clayton Dial entered the restaurant, pulled what appeared to be a revolver and demanded cash from the teenaged hostess.

Sushi chef Tetsuji Miwa overheard the exchange.

“He just stood there and started asking for money,” Miwa told the paper. I saw her face. She was very scared.”

“I heard him the second time. He said, ‘Give me your money. Open the drawer.’ That’s when I instantly grabbed my sushi knife, walked up to him, wrapped my arm around his shoulder and asked him what he wanted. He saw the blade, got scared and started running.”

He didn’t get far.

The restaurant’s general manager and assistant manager were alerted to what was going on and joined Miwa chasing down the gunman in the restaurant’s parking lot, with the assistant manager picking up a stool on the way out.

Together the three wrestled Dial to the ground. Assistant Manager Joe Pendzialek “cracked” Dial over the head with the stool, while General Manager Yuji Niizuma punched him in the arm until he dropped the pellet gun.

Meanwhile, waitress Aichan Mitsuhashi-Acs was on the phone with the police, but a judge got there first. By coincidence, Champaign County Judge Arnold Blockman had just arrived at the restaurant to pick up a to-go order to go home and watch the Kennedy Center awards with his wife.

“I saw two people running out of the restaurant. My first thought was it was some kids chasing each other. As they got to the other side of the parking lot, somebody fell and I saw somebody beating on someone and one of the waitresses just standing in the parking lot screaming with the phone.”

“I went inside and the poor cashier was just traumatized. She was sitting there with the money,” Blockman said.

When cops arrive, Dial was arrested on aggravated battery and other charges. An alleged accomplice was also arrested after Mitsuhashi-Acs told the police they’d seen a white van driving away from the restaurant during the melee.

The hero of the hour, meanwhile, wasn’t said he wouldn’t have been afraid to use his knife, but he was trying to avoid it.

“It’s pretty expensive so I didn’t want to damage it or use it,” Miwa said. “I was telling him, ‘Don’t make me use this.’ As soon as the other two managers came out, I set it down to the ground very carefully because I didn’t want to damage my blade.”

The man has his priorities.

But it would have made for an interesting chef’s special.

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