A slice of Japan in West Vail
WEST VAIL – Japanese restaurateur Kazue Osaki likes to eat healthy, but when she’s traveling, it can be nearly impossible to get a nutritious meal on the go.”Subway, Taco Bell, fast-food hamburgers – those places are everywhere,” Osaki said. “I can’t eat there. I have to eat rice every day. This is why I created Gohan-Ya.”
Gohan-Ya specializes in reasonably priced rice and noodle dishes. Beef, chicken or vegetables and tofu are tossed in traditional Japanese sauces and spices and then served over rice or noodles. You can also get sushi rolls to go at the counter, as well. Osaki and her husband, Takeshi, the sushi chef, also own Osaki’s, a high-end sushi bar in Vail. Gohan-Ya’s slogan states, “Asian cuisine for body and soul on the go.” The concept of not wanting to sacrifice taste and nutrition for quickness may be new in America, but restaurants like Gohan-Ya are very traditional in Japan. It’s similar to a Japanese cafeteria, Osaki said.Kazuko Mech, Monko Tsuji and Etsuko Fujitani, all from Japan, were having lunch at Gohan-Ya last Saturday during opening week. They all agreed it reminded them very much of home.”It just feels like Japan,” Tsuji said. “The interior with the dark wood.”
Gohan-Ya is located in the old Bagali’s space next to Taco Bell and Subway. The atmosphere is very open with clean lines, featuring dark stained wood benches and tables.”Even the way they serve it is very Japanese,” Mech said. “With chopsticks and in bowls with small plates of sauces to dip in. It’s very traditional.”They were eating the ton-katsu rice bowl ($6.50), which is deep-fried tender pork with vegetables topped with ton-katsu sauce. Ton-katsu sauce is a dark, root vegetable sauce that is slightly sweet. Most of the sauce recipes come from Osaki’s mother, who owns Izaka-Ya, a restaurant in Japan that serves Japanese-style tapas with fine beer and wine.
Everything is cooked from scratch at Gohan-Ya, Osaki said, from the egg-based soba noodle to the udon flour noodle. Osaki recommends the yaki-udon noodle dish ($6.75). Pan fried thick udon noodles are served with your choice of chicken or beef and vegetables cooked in a ginger, soy and Japanese red pepper sauce.”It’s very interesting for Americans,” Osaki said. “It’s very spicy and a good dish if they want to taste new flavors.”Other favorites include the teriyaki rice bowl ($5.75), which is made with a family-recipe teriyaki sauce, and tempura vegetables ($6.95). The menu also features miso soup ($1.95), sesame noodle salad ($6.25) and shrimp shumai ($4.25), among other Japanese snacks. “People equal Japanese food with sushi, but it’s not only sushi,” Osaki said. “I want my customers to taste other traditional Japanese dishes.”
Gohan-Ya is open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday and is closed on Sunday. For more information, or to order take-out, call 476-7570.Body and soul on the go
Gohan-yaLocated in West Vail near Taco BellOpen from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Closed Saturday.For more information, call 476-7570
Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 618, or email@example.com.
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