Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

I’ll skip the sushi April 18, 2011

WHAT FOOD IMAGES pop into your mind when I say “Japanese restaurant?”

Rice? Vegetables? Sushi?

That’s the extent of my Japanese culinary knowledge.

But that will change with the opening of a Japanese restaurant in my mid-sized Minnesota town. I noticed a sign last week in an empty strip mall space along State Highway 60 in Faribault advertising this new restaurant.

A Japanese restaurant is opening in the strip mall in the 600 block of Fourth Street/Highway 60 in Faribault.

Although I don’t eat out all that often and once tried homemade sushi, promptly spitting out the wrapped raw fish and rice, I appreciate another dining option in my community.

We have plenty of fast food and pizza places and restaurants that serve traditional American fare.

We have several Mexican restaurants (like Gran Plaza Mexican Grill and El Tequilla Family Mexican Restaurant) and a Mexican bakery.

Baked goods at a Mexican bakery (once at the center of controversy because of its exterior paint color) in downtown Faribault. The bakery has changed ownership since I took this photo.

Faribault also has three Chinese restaurants, a Somali eatery and a recently-opened Thai restaurant (that I have yet to patronize, but about which I’ve heard rave reviews).

The Southern China Cafe is among four restaurants in town serving Chinese food.

Banadir, a Somali restaurant, is located in historic downtown Faribault.

Now we’ll soon have Japanese cuisine to throw into the cultural mix.

To those of you who live in larger metropolitan areas, the opening of a Japanese restaurant may not seem like a big deal. But in outstate Minnesota, where our dining choices are more limited and where getting the locals to try something new, like God forbid sushi, this ethnic restaurant opening is worth noting.

I have no idea whether the new Japanese restaurant will serve sushi. But I expect it will.

I hope Faribault area residents are daring enough to step outside of their safe pizza, burgers and fries, steak, batter-fried walleye, enchilada, lutefisk comfort zones to try Japanese food. Count me in the door to sample Japanese food, just not the raw fish sushi.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling