By Tes Silverman
Huntington village has no shortage of Japanese restaurants. But drive about five minutes past the village and you’re in for a worthwhile experience at Kura Barn.
Kura Barn was originally a gift shop owned by Noriko and Nori Morimoto when it first came on the scene in 1975. By 1977, it became grocery story where one could buy Asian food products recommended by Nori, or listen to Noriko’s tales of Japan.
In 1980, the Morimotos decided to expand the business and establish Kura Barn as the first Japanese restaurant in Suffolk County. Their vision was to introduce the cuisine they loved to those unfamiliar with it. Throughout its evolution, the business has stayed in the family. When the Morimotos retired in 2007, their niece, Ayano, and her husband, Chef Makoto Yamada, took the reins.
An example of bridging the traditional with the new is the minimalist decor that one sees as soon you enter Kura Barn. The tables, chairs and booths are quite simple, but comfortable. The atmosphere is casual, yet warm, as evidenced by the greeting you receive from Ayano or the staff.
That warmth and comfort extends to the cuisine prepared by Yamada. Appetizers like fireworks salad ($14), tako yaki (octopus balls with hoisin sauce, $6.50), Tokyo tortilla (salmon, shrimp, avocado, scallion with wasabi jalapeno sauce on tortilla chip, $8.50) and hamachi jalapeno (yellowtail sashimi with cucumber and jalapeno with Yuzu sauce, $12) are great starters.
The fireworks salad, with shrimp, avocado on top of mixed field greens served with sesame-jalapeno sauce is great for the health-conscious diner. The Tokyo tortilla is quite filling. If you want something unusual but good, the octopus balls with hoisin sauce is quite delicious. The hamachi jalapeno with cucumber, jalapeno and Yuzu sauce has a clean taste, but the mix of jalapeno and Yuzu sauce raises it another level.
If you want an entree that is beautifully presented and filling, the Omakase sushi platter ($35) is the one to have. This entree is one of Yamada’s special dishes that showcases his creativity. Comprised of bluefin tuna, maguro (tuna), hamachi (yellowtail), botan ebi (red shrimp), ika (squid), katsuo (bonito sashimi in a boat), salmon with ikura (salmon roe), eel with avocado wrapped in soy paper and scallop, mango and masago (roe) with wasabi sauce, this entree could satisfy any sushi lover.
If you want to expand your culinary taste with dessert, the one to choose is the dora yaki (Japanese pancakes with red bean mochi and green tea ice cream, $7.50). The Japanese pancakes are fluffy and combined with the red bean filling creates a delicate pastry. Adding green tea ice cream on top of the pancakes creates a rich, creamy dessert.
The Yamada’s commitment to provide their diners with excellent cuisine and service is part of the reason they have lasted for more than decades.
Ayano Yamada’s vision is simple: “I want my diners to feel like they’re dining at their aunt’s or grandmother’s house. I want their experience to remind them of home.”
With that in mind, there’s no reason why Kura Barn shouldn’t be around to wow diners with a “homey” experience for another decade.