Japan West: Only the Best

. December 1, 2015.
japan-west-findlay-exterior

Japan West
406 S. Main St., Findlay
419-424-1007
Hours: 11:30am-2pm and 5-10pm 
Monday to Friday, 5-10pm Saturday, closed Sunday.
Take-out and dine-in multi-purpose spaces for meetings available.

japanwestfindlay.com and on Facebook under “Japan West”

The Short Course

Kid-friendly: Yes
To avoid wait: Reservations recommended, or come at off-times: After 1pm during lunch or after 7pm for dinner. 
Noise level: Quiet
Bathroom amenities:  Clean and adequate, with bidet
High chairs? Yes, and booster seats
Got milk?  No, but soft drinks, lemonade and some juices available.Kids’ menu? Yes, for grill area. Server happy to find options for your child to enjoy.
Anything healthy for kids? Fresh fruit can be substituted for chips in all kid’s meals
Food allergy concerns? Food at grill cooked right in front of you, so can openly discuss with chef. Have gluten-free sauces available; use very little cooking oil; for shellfish allergy, can cook your food before others to avoid cross-contamination.

 

When I picked my kids up from school and announced we would dine at Japan West that evening, my 10-year-old son literally began screaming with delight. 

I feel the same way, Ben, I really do.

Japan West is an absolute favorite with our family. My son and I share an over-the-top love of everything about it – from the modern, calming atmosphere, to the friendly staff, to the way you feel like you’re being treated to something very special, to how I always learn something, to our adoration of the food. You read that right – my son, who, for the most part orders chicken tenders, fries and salad in most places – often expresses a deep longing for tuna rolls.

Actually, it’s not a matter of opinion – Japan West really is something special, a product of a lasting friendship kindled between diplomats of Findlay and Japan about 25 years ago, said Yasushi Ito, general manager of the restaurant. Because of that friendship, Chairman Kohei Suzuki, founder of GSW Manufacturing Inc. (an automotive part and accessory plant in Findlay) wanted to bring the best of authentic Japanese cuisine to Findlay, as a gift. The restaurant opened in 1994, and was beautifully remodeled in 2011.

“We always bring top quality in everything, and in terms of our fish and meat,” Ito said. “We’re not competing with other restaurants on price. For us, it’s all about quality.”

Experience Truly Authentic Japanese Food

When Ito says “authentic” Japanese food, this means you can get things here that you won’t find at an Americanized Japanese steakhouse. Japan West has several grills in the back where the chef entertains and cooks the food in front of you, and an area in the front for other food, including its vast sushi offerings. Going back to those authentic foods, my knowledge is in its infancy, but I can tell you I left the restaurant to do my write-up with three seemingly boundless menus for sushi, traditional Japanese dinners and grill offerings. There are pictures in the traditional menu and the servers are always extremely helpful in explaining menu options. 

At the start of each meal at Japan West, the server brings a white, steaming towel wound in a cylinder for you to wipe your face and hands, which I’ve come to look forward to like a calming mini-trip to the spa. Patrons also receive a few bowls of salty pretzel mix to enjoy while perusing the menu. I must also add here that, while I did not order one on this occasion, Kirin Ichiban, a Japanese beer, has become my favorite. 

We ordered an appetizer of edamame for each of the kids, which is soybeans, steamed in their pods and topped with salt. To eat, you bite the bean out of the pod…the kids LOVE it. Because of our exposure to it here, I buy it frozen at the store to serve at home.

My husband and I ordered the gyoza – pork dumplings – as an appetizer. They were delicious with a tender soft shell and flavored pork and onion inside, served with a tangy, salty sauce. 

We followed it with all of our favorite sushi – the California Roll, Findlay Roll, Toro (fatty tuna), Spicy Tuna Roll and two orders (12 pieces total) of regular Tuna Roll for Ben.

My favorite sushi evolves…right now it is the Japan West Roll which is a spicy soy wrap with tuna, salmon, shrimp, eel and octopus inside. To me, this is a two-bite roll, a variety of heavenly tastes and textures pleasing to the tongue and comparable to nothing else. 

I also found myself really going for the California Roll on this night, which is avocado and crab, rolled in rice and topped with tobiko, tiny fish eggs. These are more textures and tastes I adore. I love the creaminess of the avocado mixed with the rice and crab, and I have found that tobiko really makes sushi for me, adding a wonderful consistency and delicate flavor.

The Toro, or fatty tuna, was wonderful as well. This is such a delicacy of high grade tuna that Japan West does not always have it. It melts in your mouth like nothing else – such a treat.

As for my husband, he enjoyed our sushi selections as always. We battle for the Japan West Rolls a bit, since they are both of our favorites. He loves the Spicy Tuna and Toro as well. 

Delighted Kids, Delighted Parents

And now on to Ben’s performance. He was ready for a great night, and great it was. I left the table to take a few pictures, and when I returned, he was using chopsticks as if such utensils had been in hand his whole life. (Japan West does have chopsticks that are connected at the top for kids.) Along with breaded chicken, a salad, pretzel appetizer, and edamame, he gobbled up NINE tuna roll pieces and kept staring down the three left on the plate, wishing his belly could fit more. 

Kids options are limited at Japan West, but servers are happy to come up with something the kids can enjoy. I can only consider it kid-friendly, knowing how my own kids feel about it. 

My 7-year-old daughter, Rosalynn, happily ate up her breaded chicken strips with rice and edamame. Both kids award Japan West the GOLD MEDAL on chicken. This is mainly what they eat anywhere they go to eat, so such an honor should not be taken lightly! 

My husband and I were just too full, but the kids packed in some mint chocolate chip ice cream to conclude their meals. Even the mints that come with your bill are something special at Japan West – candy coated, colorful chocolate ones that we all look forward to as one last treat.

When we venture to Japan West to dine, it is a true pleasure for all. I can’t give it enough praise. It is a must-visit in Findlay, my absolute favorite, a gift indeed.