The family owners of a Japanese restaurant that has been serving Chandler for 19 years are planning to open a second restaurant in Gilbert.
Shimogamo was opened in 2003 by Yoshio and Sanae Otomo, who moved to Arizona in 1994 from Japan. Their daughter, Mika Otomo, now runs the restaurant and the family recently opened a second location in the village of San Tan.
“My dad worked at a Japanese trading company and was assigned to Chandler in 1994,” said Mika, chief executive of Shimogamo (pronounced shoo-moh-gah-moh). My parents, Sanae and Yoshio Otomo, decided to live here and not return to Japan because my mother loved this lifestyle.
His father’s business was sold in the early 2000s, so Otomo said his father left and decided to go into the restaurant business.
“He was always interested in catering, but I had never seen him cook,” laughed Mika, adding that his mother also had no experience in catering.
“The only past they had in the restaurant business was my grandfather, my father’s father,” said Mika, who left corporate life to become a professional sommelier in the wine, sake and wine industry. drinks.
Five years ago, while in Tokyo, Mika met her husband, who was executive chef at Alexander’s Steakhouse. The couple took over the operation of the restaurant near Dobson and Warner roads three years ago.
“With our experience, we started to improve the quality and price of the menu, which was more upscale,” she explained. “The items we got rid of were mostly homemade noodle or rice dishes. We’ve changed our speeds to serve more premium protein dishes. »
Mika described the restaurant’s dishes as more authentic family dishes that are not so Americanized. She said good Japanese food has a simple flavor profile without too much sugar, ketchup, or mayonnaise.
“There are a lot of things that deviate from the original flavor profile of Japanese cuisine,” Mika said. “We hired a sushi chef who worked in high-end sushi restaurants. He works to ensure that the quality meets the standard we have set.
She said the most popular sushi is amberjack with truffles. “It’s the amberjack sashimi with truffle ponzu sauce and a little truffle oil topped with micro coriander and radish.”
For non-sushi, Otomo recommends Japanese Wagyu Beef. “With my husband, who comes from a very high-end steakhouse, he knows how to handle Wagyu…Wagyu is all about cuts and processing.”
“Obviously we have Wagyu Steak, Wagyu Skewers and Wagyu Carpaccio which is my favorite,” Mika said. “
The restaurant closed for eight months during the pandemic but thanks to loyal customers who ordered takeout, survived.
“I have to give it to my parents,” Mika said. “We have a lot of customers who loved us there…I’ve seen them go through a lot of tough times. But they survived. They continued to increase the clientele. Everyone came back for takeout.
As for the competition, she added, “I think what really sets us apart is the level of skill and the authenticity of Japanese cuisine.”
“Of course, some ingredients can be dodgy,” she said. “I just don’t want people to be scared of it, because we know how to make it taste good. This is what Japanese cuisine is all about: showcasing ingredients and bringing the pure goodness of food to the table.
“A lot of people are afraid of these ingredients. I think this also happens with younger generations. They are so dependent on sugar and salt.
Mika introduced many premium sakes to the menu.
“Sake is not sake bomber or hot sake to get drunk,” she explained. “It really is like wine. It should be treated the same way (more to supplement the meal). It can sometimes be expensive, but it is definitely worth it. I introduce a lot of premium sake on the menu and they are sold out every weekend. With the right guidance and the right introduction, people are ready to try the new high-end quality items from Japan. »
When Gilbert’s Restaurant opens, Otomo said the same menu will be offered but will operate more efficiently in a new building.