THE EATBEAT: Kon Nechi Wa knows how to satisfy fans of Japanese cuisineThe small and private tatimi rooms, where customers sit on cushions in complete privacy, are a draw at Kon Nechi Wa restaurant. Others prefer the more traditional seating in booths. The small restaurant with seating for 75 to 85 is the oldest Japanese-style eating place in Greater Grand Forks.
By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald
The small and private tatimi rooms, where customers sit on cushions in complete privacy, are a draw at Kon Nechi Wa restaurant. Others prefer the more traditional seating in booths.
Sadako McGregor, who runs the restaurant, boasts there have been four proposals made in the tatimi rooms. “And nobody has said no,” she said.
The small restaurant with seating for 75 to 85 is the oldest Japanese-style eating place in Greater Grand Forks. In recent years, four more places have blossomed with Japanese menus.
Sadako, a native of Okinawa, finished a long career as jewelry manager for J.C. Penney Co. here. Then, 11 years ago, she launched into the business of selling egg rolls and fried rice from a little truck. Her partner then and now is her husband, Lester MacGregor, who she met and married when he was a U.S. Marine stationed in Okinawa.
They have run their small restaurant in Menard’s Shopping Mall for almost nine years. And they have a loyal, steady following of people who want sushi, sashimi, tempura, teriyaki and Japanese bento boxes.
It’s a family-owned and operated business with Sadako leading the way. Her husband works in the kitchen. Their daughter, Cathy Haines, is manager, and her grandson, Steven, is learning the business.
My choice on a cold winter day was a scallop stir-fry ($12.95). It arrived with an ample serving of rice, laced with small scallops and vegetables including asparagus and long slender strings of carrot.
The rice was especially good. It was light with a pleasant flavor of teriyaki sauce.
Sadako, who joined me for a visit, told me her method of mixing two different kinds of rice adds to the flavor. And she uses light oils for frying.
My food guide tells me sushi can be various combinations of seasoned rice, vegetables and seafood such as scallops. With raw fish, it is called sashimi.
Over the years, Sadako has studied under a sushi master in Okinawa. She developed a long sushi menu including mango cucumber roll and a crab roll with cucumber and seasoned egg. There are spicy selections including a creamy eel roll and a creamy sake roll with salmon, avocado and cucumber.
These selections, along with others, are created in the kitchen by the family and include a long list of specialty rolls.
Caterpillar roll is broiled eel, cucumber and avocado and eel sauce. A spider roll is made with soft shell crab, cucumber and avocado and topped with eel sauce.
The menu is long and involved, but it would meet the fancy of any connoisseur of Japanese cuisine.
Over the years, I have settled for a daily fried rice special of chicken or beef fried rice, pork egg roll and a Coke product. Another good bet is the Bento lunch box special served with skewers, salad, vegetable tempura, two karaoke balls and white rice with a bowl of clear soup ($7.95 and $8.95).
Kon Nechi Wa
3750 32nd Ave. S., Grand Forks
Owner: Sadako MacGregor.
Manager: Cathy Haines.
Hour: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday;, noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Telephone: (701) 775-3421 (for reservations).
Report card: Kon Nechi Wa offers an adventure in Japanese foods, ranging from basic rice dishes to sophisticated entrees. It has a loyal following and was for years the only Japanese restaurant in the Grand Forks area. Prices are low-moderate. Flavor is there. Service is good. Japanese and American wine and beer are available.
Reach Hagerty at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (701) 772-1055.