Lawrence restaurants: Nagoya owners focused on healthy Japanese fare
This Q&A appeared in the Jan. 22, 2020, edition of the Journal-World’s Crave food supplement. More from that section, including interviews with Lawrence restaurateurs, can be found here.
Michelle Yu, who owns Nagoya Japanese Cuisine with her husband, Vincent, spoke to the Journal-World about the restaurant’s efforts to offer healthy Japanese options.
Nagoya, 711 W. 23rd St., is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4:30 to 10 p.m. Fridays; noon to 10 p.m. on Saturdays; and noon to 9 p.m. on Sundays, according to its Facebook page. The restaurant is closed on Mondays.
Q: What is your favorite item on your restaurant’s menu?
A: The Avocado Bomb is the customers’ favorite. But, my personal favorite is yuzu salmon, which is sushi salmon with a spicy Japanese sauce made from green or yellow yuzu zest.
Q: How did you get into the profession?
A: My husband, Vincent Yu, and I have been here 3 1/2 years. We have to make a living for our family. We have three kids and his parents.
Vincent is the chef and I am the server; we have always looked for work as a chef and server. This space was open and we thought, “Let’s do this.”
Q: What is the one trend in food you are most excited about right now?
A: That is a difficult question. We have added a ramen bowl. We are trying to make the food healthy and move away from greasy. Japanese food is based on fish. We have to make more varieties, but fish is healthy. The presentation is everything.
Q: Other than your own restaurant, what restaurant would you most like to eat at in Lawrence?
A: I like to go to Encore Cafe and Zen Zero and Korean food at O Cafe.
Q: How do you go about trying to balance the ideas of healthy eating and creating a really flavorful dish?
A: Our goal is to have healthy and flavorful dishes.
Q: What’s your best advice for someone who is trying to become a better cook?
A: Have a dedicated heart. Vincent prepares his dishes with his heart. He will always have me taste each new dish before he brings it out.
A chef with a dedicated heart knows what the customer likes and needs. I can always create something they are specifically asking for.
Every customer is special at Nagoya. Good food is important, but so is good service.