By Tim Krohn email@example.com
The Mankato Free Press
---- — MANKATO — Area residents will have to get used to a new idea of “all you can eat” when they go to the New Osaka Japanese Cuisine restaurant.
“It’s different than the traditional buffet,” said D K, the co-owner of the new restaurant who goes by his initials. “People pick things off the menu and we make it all fresh. If sushi sits even a half hour, it’s not as good.”
Recent lunchtime diners Glen Ojard and Keeli McCormack were working their way around the menu items, having tried maki and hand rolls, soup and seaweed, then ordering some sushi.
“It’s fantastic. It’s all fresh-made,” McCormack said.
“The atmosphere is really cool,” Ojard said. “I think people just want fresh, unpretentious food. This obviously takes a huge amount of training to make this food. People will pay an extra $5 if it’s fresh and good.”
D K said finding suppliers for fresh fish — such as favorites salmon, tuna and yellowtail — was a bit of a challenge. “It’s hard to get fresh fish to Minnesota.” He finally found a supplier in Chicago who delivers to them because D K and his co-owner and uncle, Yong Liu, buy large amounts of fish for the several restaurants they operate, including Ichi Tokyo in Rochester.
If people don’t want an all-you-can-eat experience — which cost $15.99 for lunch and $24.99 for dinner — they can simply order offerings from the menu, which includes fried and sushi appetizers, maki rolls, sushi entrees, noodles, tempura and hibachi items. The restaurant has a full service bar, a banquet room for larger groups and a patio.
New Osaka, named after the second largest city in Japan, is at 1854 Madison Ave. in the former Dunn Bros./Rivendell Cafe building.
With Japanese food relatively new to Mankato — Tokyo Sushi & Hibachi opened two years ago — D K said his staff fields a lot of questions about the menu. “They ask what unagi is. We tell them, that’s eel. It’s a favorite in Japan.”
Mankato will soon get a third Japanese restaurant when Shogun opens in the strip mall next to Old Navy.
Liu has opened several restaurants in southern Minnesota, including a Chinese restaurant in Mankato and North Mankato. D K came here from China about five years ago and began working in his uncle’s restaurants.
New Osaka is open Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Fri. 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 10:30 p.m.; Sat. 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Sun. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.