By Connor Beach
When you walk through the door at Kura Barn in Huntington, you are greeted by a friendly face and a welcoming atmosphere.
The friendly face is usually that of Ayano Yamada or her husband Chef Makoto Yamada, who took over the reins at Kura Barn in 2007.
Ayano Yamada said her aunt, Noriko Morimoto, started Kura Barn in the late 1970’s as a gift shop and small Asian grocery store. The store opened as a restaurant in 1979, and has thrived in Huntington’s competitive dining scene ever since.
Yamada began working at the restaurant as a busser, where she learned to speak English and how to provide customers with an authentic Japanese dining experience.
Now, Yamada attributes Kura Barn’s continued success to her aunt’s original philosophy of customer service.
“My aunt wanted to create a family atmosphere where customers can enjoy the food with the staff,” Yamada said.
Yamada has continued the warm, welcoming atmosphere at Kura Barn that makes diners feel at home.
“We want it to feel like you are visiting your aunt or uncle’s house when you eat here,” Yamada said.
Kura Barn’s menu is a blend of traditional and contemporary Japanese cuisine that truly creates an authentic experience.
To start, Takoyaki ($6.50), one of Japan’s most popular street foods, gives diners an authentic taste of Japan. The ball-shaped snack consists of a flour-based batter filled with diced octopus topped with takoyaki sauce and mayo.
The dish is easy to eat, with a crispy exterior that holds the tender octopus. The sauce adds a touch of sweetness to the dish.
The dish evokes a feeling of home, Yamada said, because almost every family in Japan has a specially shaped takoyaki pan they use to make a unique version of the dish.
The Pork Katsu Curry ($11) is a uniquely Japanese style beef curry served with rice and pork cutlet.
Yamada described the dish as “Japanese Soul Food.”
The description fits perfectly. The curry has an intense depth of flavor and finishes with a subtle heat that pairs well with the crispy pork and rice.
On the cooler side, Fireworks Salad ($14) combines crunchy noodles, poached shrimp, avocado and mixed greens in a sesame-jalapeno sauce. The sauce is the star of this salad; it has a great sesame flavor and a little spice that highlights the flavor of the shrimp. The variety of textures also gives the dish a nice mouthfeel.
Tenzaru ($12.50) features cold soba noodles, shrimp and vegetable tempura and inari sushi. The tempura batter is crispy, while the inari sushi, sushi rice inside of fried tofu, provides a slightly spongy alternative. The dish is tied together by the dipping sauce, which lends its distinctly Asian flavor to all of the different components.
Finally, a visit to Kura Barn would not be complete without sushi and sashimi. The Sushi and Sashimi for Two ($60) lets diners try a variety of different fish. It includes tuna, yellowtail, salmon and whitefish, as well as a choice of sushi rolls.
Trained as a sushi chef in Japan, Chef Makoto Yamada serves up delicious, fresh pieces of fish that are crafted into works of art. The fish gives a refreshing burst of flavor to the dish, and the skillfully crafted rolls combine texture and flavor for a traditional taste of Japan.
The combination of authentic cuisine and a welcoming atmosphere have made Kura Barn a longstanding cornerstone of Huntington’s restaurant community.
479 New York Avenue
Prices: Appetizers: $5-$14;
Entrees: $14-$24; Sushi and Sashimi: $14-$60; Rolls: $4-$14.50
Hours: Closed Monday; Tuesday-Thursday, 12-2 p.m. and 5:30-10 p.m.; Friday, 12-2 p.m. and 5:30-10:30 p.m.; Saturday, 5:30-10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 5-9 p.m.