Yamato, the serene little Japanese restaurant at the back of Kerrytown’s pretty courtyard, will be closing at the end of March, and owner Kazuko Ishizuka will be retiring.
Her husband, Norihiro Ishizuka, is not ready to retire. Miyake, as his friends call him, is Yamato’s sushi chef, with the classic and rigorous Japanese training that is becoming increasingly rare as sushi becomes a mainstream snack rather than a highly codified and refined Japanese protocol. “Miyake-San will start at Passport [restaurant] April fifth. He will be the head chef of the sushi bar,” says Sarah West, a friend of the family.
West helped open Yamato in 1996 when she was sixteen. Now a photographer’s stylist in Los Angeles, West was in town for a month or two to help the Ishizukas close the restaurant. “I’m helping them do things like Social Security, because they don’t have children of their own,” she says.
West says that those who know sushi recognize the sushi that comes out of the Miyake’s kitchen as the real thing. “It just has a look to it. A lot of sushi these days is–I can’t explain it–kind of big and messy. His is very Japanese and traditional.”