After 30 years, Masato just keeps on (sushi) rolling
AVON – It all started as a young man’s dream in a small town in Japan. Now, the man who brought one of the first Japanese restaurants to the Vail Valley is celebrating 30 years as a sushi chef.Masato Okamoto, owner of Masato’s Sushi and Japanese Bistro in Avon, always had a single passion as a young man in Japan – cooking. But it wasn’t just cooking the traditional dishes that appealed to Masato. It was the time-honored convergence of food preparation and artistic presentation we now know as sushi cuisine.
In Japan, Masato learned his craft in some of the finest restaurants in the city, before making the move to the United States, first settling in Tucson, Ariz. There, he became a partner in his first restaurant. It was in 1994 that he made the move to the valley.Wanting to start his own restaurant where he could bring his love of truly traditional sushi preparation and Japanese ambiance, he looked to the mountains of Colorado. He had heard of Vail’s reputation for fine dining and his research told him that the area was ripe for a real sushi restaurant. In October of 1994, Masato bought a space near the old Wal-Mart center and in spring of 1995, he opened Masato’s Sushi and Japanese Bistro.
The wave of popularity of sushi and Japanese cuisine was still cresting and valley diners received Masato’s traditional Sushi creations well.Now, 30 years after taking up his sushi knives, Masato’s is a fixture on the Vail dining scene. “I like to give people here as close to what they would get in Japan,” Masato said. “Many of my preparations were taught to me by the masters at home, in the way they have been for centuries. I think people have come to appreciate that aspect of what we do here.”
The Japanese Ski Team frequents Masato while in town for the World Cup races each year.”I’m so grateful for the support I’ve received over these years from all my loyal customers. It’s doing what I love … for people like them that have made the last 30 years just fly by,” said Masato
Masato can be found behind the sushi bar nightly at Masato’s Sushi and Japanese Bistro in Avon’s Chapel Square. For more information call (970) 949-0330. Vail Colorado
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