With three years of culinary training in China, Jack Ho immigrated to the Pittsburgh area in 1994, but he never forgot his childhood sweetheart, Jessie. The two had known each other since their early years in Guang Zhou, a city in the Canton province of China, near Hong Kong.

“We were in the same school, the same class,” he says.

Jack Ho returned to China four years later to marry Jessie, and the two came to this region, where Jack continued his restaurant work.

“I was used to working Chinese-style,” Ho says. But he also learned to prepare Japanese sushi at the Original Fish Market, Downtown, and took five or six years to perfect that style.

The two joined with a partner to open the Golden Palace in Robinson, which featured dim sum, but “not too many people know about dim sum,” Jessie Ho says. Dim sum — more accurately pronounced Guang Dong — originated in the Hos' native Canton. It comprises small bite-size or individual portions served on small plates or in small steamer baskets. The Golden Palace eventually closed, but the couple's dream about operating a restaurant did not dim.

Just last month, the Hos opened Rice Inn in a former Pizza Hut building on Library Road in Bethel Park. Jack Ho is the chef and Jessie Ho works as the manager.

Diners can choose from a variety of Chinese, Thai and sushi dishes, such as Sushi and Sashimi Combo, featuring six nigri sushi and 12 sashimi, another Japanese delicacy featuring raw meat or fish. The entree includes a tuna or California roll, for $25.95. Beef Tenderloin comes with sweet Korean barbecue sauce, grilled and sprinkled with sesame seeds, for $15.95. Lunches, which feature smaller portions, also feature lower prices, from $6 to $15.95.

The couple plans to feature occasional specials, including a summer mango roll Jack Ho hopes to begin offering in May. The roll will include shrimp, crab, avocado, salmon and mango inside, drizzled with a bit of mango sauce on the outside.

Ho knows his adopted American hometown well. He created a Pittsburgh Roll for $5.95 that contains asparagus, shrimp, crabmeat, avocado and tobiko, which are caviarlike fish eggs that can be black, yellow, gold or red.

“We use black and gold,” he says.

Ho prepares the sushi at a sushi bar in the dining room, an arrangement he likes.

“It's more comfortable, not hot like in the kitchen,” he says. “I can talk to the customers, know what they want. … You can learn from the customers.”

Seating is offered on upholstered stools at the sushi bar, in comfortable booths or on chairs at tables.

The Hos, both a youthful 41, find the Bethel Park location of Rice Inn convenient to their home in Upper St. Clair, where they are raising three school-age children.

“I think Bethel Park has a market for Asian cuisine,” Jack Ho says. With no advertising, customers “go past and come in to pick up the menu.” Indeed, one woman recently entered Rice Inn, told Jessie Ho she had seen the sign and ordered dinner to go.