Food writer Jane Snow and I bumped into each other in November at the Fabulous Food Show. We had lost touch after she left the Beacon Journal some years ago. Happy to reconnect, we made plans to get together, meeting not long ago in Akron at Sushi Katsu, a tiny restaurant hidden behind a strip mall and owned by her husband Tony Kawaguchi. He trained in Japan, where he was born, and ended up in northeast Ohio by way of Hawaii (hard to believe he traded that weather for this), with stints in New York, Chicago, Aspen, and Los Angeles.
The man’s a true master and artist when it comes to transforming raw fish into a something beautiful to behold and wonderful to eat. Sitting at the counter and watching him work is fascinating- its all about precision, economy of movement, focus, and a deep understanding of the ingredients he uses to create the traditional nigiri, sashimi, maki and temaki that he serves. He’s invented quite a few specialty rolls, among them a series named after area locales like Munroe Falls, Hudson, Kent and Stow. The menu also offers some cooked specialities: his baked scallops are outstanding.
The restaurant has been in operation since 1996, but I haven’t been there in many years and had forgotten about it. So this was like a new discovery for me. It’s not included in Cleveland Ethnic Eats. When I first contacted Tony, shortly after he opened, he didn’t want to be in the book. He can’t remember now if it was because he misunderstood and thought I was trying to get him to buy a listing or if he feared the publicity would attract more customers than his little place could handle. I asked again a couple of years later and got the same cold shoulder. Whatever the reason, its old news. Thanks to his wife, we’re back in touch, communicating successfully, and the restaurant will definitely appear in the next edition. But don’t wait till then to visit. If you’re a sushi lover like me , I encourage you to get yourself there as soon as possible. Telly Tony Laura sent you.