Wasabi Fusion: More than a Japanese steakhouse


Contemporary, chic and exciting, yet traditional all at the same time, Wasabi Fusion mixes new style Japanese bamboo décor with cultural Japanese art and presentation to mirror the old and new qualities customers find in their “fusion”-styled cuisine.

Wasabi Fusion, located off Washington Avenue in downtown Minneapolis, is the new hot spot of the downtown restaurant scene and not just because of its location; the new fusion style of the food brings curious customers to the table and keeps them coming back for more.

Head Chef and part owner Yukio Kamada, received his culinary training in Fukuoka City, Japan yet he didn’t study the art of the Japanese cuisine. Kamada studied the techniques used in both French and Italian cuisine and now uses his background to create a new style of Japanese food.

“I can make anything from French to Thai to Italian style Japanese food,” Kamada says. “For a French-style Japanese dish I create Japanese tuna in a red wine sauce.”

“I am very surprised how I make foods sometimes,” he says. “I mix sushi with fruits and most of the time people wouldn’t think of doing that.” Kamada also mentioned that he doesn’t like to taste his new creations all the time but allows his staff to give him feedback instead.

Junji Umezu, the kitchen manager, started out working in French restaurants learning the techniques and styles of that particular cuisine. Adding to his studies the Japanese portion of his Japanese-American heritage, Umezu became very interested in fusion cooking and finds it very popular with customers.

Umezu says he can take a Chinese or Japanese dish and enhance it with the European flair he has perfected during his twelve years in the industry.

Wasabi Fusion has all the qualities of a Japanese steakhouse—a regular style menu featuring many Japanese cuisine classics, entertaining hibachi grills, a sushi bar, full saki bar and also special menus that change almost daily.

The saki bar carries premium brands such as Yuki No Bosha, Junmai Ginjo, along with some very special lines such as Kasumi Tsuru, Kimoto extra dry, and Oni Koroshi, Junmai Daiginjo and items found on the special menu might include the Mama or Super Tempura rolls.

Owners Kamada and Ichiro Hoshiyama both used to live in Wisconsin where they operated separate Japanese style restaurants. Upon coming to the Minneapolis area, they both knew that the idea of a Japanese steakhouse wasn’t unique, so they decided it was time to try something different.

“We knew that Minneapolis was big enough to try new stuff,” Kamada says. “This fusion style is new age.”

The customers that frequent Wasabi Fusion might be said to mirror the fusion in the food as well. Along with the typical downtowner that would be associated with the hip, new area of downtown Minneapolis, “we have a lot of asian customers as well,” says Kamada. “We have some people come in and ask us if we make hamburgers. We don’t do that but if you want traditional Japanese, we will make you traditional; if you want new, we will make you new.”

Kamada says he enjoys to frequent some other restaurants in the downtown area in order to enhance his fusion cooking skills. “I go out a lot,” he says. “I like to try different restaurants because you can see how they create different foods. I like Italian, Organic, French, and Thai because I can think how to mix my food with it to create fusion stuff.”

The kitchen staff, which includes five sushi chefs, two hibachi chefs and four kitchen chefs, have all been trained in the fusion style of Japanese cuisine. Kamada can usually be found behind the sushi bar whipping up something to tantalize the customer’s tastebuds and there are usually many customers there waiting in line.

A happy hour on Sunday through Thursday from 4:30 to 6:30 includes both food and drink specials. Lunch specials are also available on a limited menu. Reservations are recommended on weekends and nights and call ahead’s are also accepted. Large parties can request sections of the restaurant to be enclosed to create an intimate setting for a special gathering. Parking is located on both sides of the restaurant and Wasabi Fusion is located on the top floor.

For reservations or information on hours and directions call 612-339-6688.

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