Behind the sleek new Kamehachi are 44 years of history and three generations of one Japanese-American family.
Marion Konishi opened Kamehachi's first iteration, a tiny restaurant across from Second City in Old Town, in 1967.
Born in San Diego, she lived in internment camps during World War II before opening the Chicago outpost of a restaurant a distant cousin brought to New York. Sushi was the star, bolstered by yakitori, teriyaki and udon--traditional dishes of the Nisei (first-generation American) culture. A piece of tuna was 30 cents.
When Konishi passed away in 1990, her daughter and granddaughter moved the restaurant two blocks south. There it stayed for nearly two decades, until last week, when they moved half a block north into a spacious new location.
In addition to Konishi's original dishes, preparations from a few young chefs--including one trained at Arami--lend a modern bent. Salmon nigiri is garnished with a savory tangle of enoki mushroom and garlic ($3), and raw hamachi is topped with banana pepper and truffle oil ($4).
"Forty-four years--that's a long time!" says Konishi's daughter, Sharon Perazzoli. "That's a lot of rice, and a lot of tuna."
Kamehachi, 1531 N. Wells St.; 312-664-3663 or kamehachi.com
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