At Columbus’ Satuma Japanese Restaurant, the majority of the patrons are Japanese. And if that indicator of authenticity fails to convince you, perhaps seeing Japanese co-owner and chef Misao Kurayama stand behind the sushi bar, chopping away at his latest concoction, will. Even more important, however, is that Satuma Japanese Restaurant’s Japanese cuisine is as flavorful as it is authentic.
From appetizers such as gyoza (a pan-fried dumpling) or edamame (soybeans boiled in salt water) to main courses such as the savory sukiyaki (beef with tofu, noodles and vegetables slowly simmered in a broth) and unadon (eel served on a bed of rice), Satuma Japanese Restaurant doles out a bounty of delectable dishes.
The knowledgeable waitstaff provides prompt service and readily answers questions about the dishes and their various ways of preparation. Waiters also will gladly recommend items for those unfamiliar with Japanese cuisine.
Co-owner Clara Kurayama recommends sakura, which includes shrimp and vegetable tempura (deep-fried), sushi, rice and aemono (Japanese salad). Adventurous couples might enjoy shabu shabu, a hot pot with vegetable broth and thinly sliced meat that patrons cook to their tastes at the table. And there’s always the house specialty, dry curry, a Misao original that combines a special concoction of curry with ground beef, rice and other ingredients.
The restaurant also offers a great selection of sushi. The variety of sushi can be confusing, and not all sushi is served raw or even with fish. Patrons who would like to try sushi but are a little cautious when it comes to raw fish can start with an Americanized version, the California roll, and work their way to a spicy tuna roll, nigiri sushi (bite-size pieces of fish on a small portion of rice) and sashimi (several pieces of seafood served on bed of rice).
Hours of Operation
Lunch: 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Weekdays
Dinner: 5:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., Monday – Thursday | 5:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., Friday – Saturday
Member: Columbus Chamber of Commerce
Misao and Clara Kurayama, Owners
The Story of Satuma Japanese Restaurant
Growing up, Misao wanted to be a ship’s chef and was hired by the shipping company NYK right out of high school. He went to cooking school in Fukuoka, on Kyushu island, for two years and ship school for a year, learning everything from the engine room to emergency procedures. Through NYK, Misao worked on cruise and container ships that took him to America and Europe.
When NYK opened Heisei restaurant in Lafayette to serve employees of Subaru / Isuzu, Misao became one of the chefs. That’s also where he met Clara, Heisei’s floor manager. After a stint at Heisei, Misao worked in Kobe for 13 months as a dorm chef for workers who commute but stay in the dorm during the workweek. When NYK wanted to put him on a cruise ship, he decided to return to Heisei because he did not want to leave his family for six months at a time. Clara and Misao have two sons, Roman, 31, who has served in the U.S. Navy for 10 years, and Colin, 20, graduated from Columbus North in 2010 and is now a student at the University of Louisville.
Misao came home from work one night and said the family should start looking for a place to open a restaurant. They considered Evansville, Chicago, Detroit, Louisville, Cincinnati and Columbus. A family friend had told them about the heavy concentration of Japanese auto parts makers in Columbus. When Satuma Japanese Restaurant opened in September 1996, about 425 Japanese families lived here. The Kurayamas thought it was a good market to get going.
By Any Other Name
Everyone knows Misao simply as “father.” Years ago, when the children were young, Clara wanted them to call Misao father – not “dad” or “daddy.” Now everyone, including Clara, calls him father. Even older Japanese customers who call will ask to speak with father.
In English, the restaurant is called “Satuma,” but in Japanese it is “Satsuma.” Misao thought Americans could not pronounce the “ts” sound and left out the “s” when he listed it with the state. Satsuma is an archaic name for Kagoshima, where Misao was born.
No matter what you call it, the restaurant is well worth the visit thanks to its enchanting atmosphere, attentive staff and flavorful food.
2790 Brentwood Drive, Columbus, IN 47203 | (812) 375-1117 | Fax: (812) 375-1215