The History of Kyoto Japanese Restaurant
Sam Tada was born in Kyoto, Japan. After finishing high school, he began working in the vibrant local restaurant scene. In Kyoto, it is traditional to train and teach younger generations the craft and skills related to running a restaurant and then send them out to create their own success. This is a lesson that Sam has held close to his heart, and is evident as Sam & Yoshiko have advised and aided their own employees to open their own businesses. Businesses that sometimes even compete with Kyoto.
At age 23, Sam moved to Salt Lake City and began to work with Jerry Tsuyuki as they endeavored to open a traditional Japanese restaurant. Sam was not only the opening Chef at Mikado, he helped with construction and carpentry of the restaurant before opening.
Yoshiko Yamasaki was born in Odawara, Japan near Mount Fuji. With a career in music, Yoshiko had no ambition to open and operate her own restaurant. After marrying Sam and moving to the US that all changed. Yoshiko worked as a hostess, server, and then head server at Benihana, providing her with the experience she needed for their new adventure.
Kyoto Japanese Restaurant opened for business on August 16, 1984. Sam & Yoshiko Tada were nervous as they invited in guests that first day to the location at 1080 East 1300 South, which had not been known as a home for successful restaurants. One by one, restaurants had opened at that location, only to close their doors soon afterward. Critics and patrons were skeptical of Kyoto’s chances for success.
With Sam as Chef, creating dishes and managing the kitchen, and Yoshiko leading service and managing the finances, they proved to be the perfect combination for a business that would become an icon in Salt Lake City. After tasting the food and enjoying their dining experience, those same critics were dazzled and pleased by the newest restaurant on the block. One reviewer in July of 1985 said, “After our first visit, the major reason for the Kyoto’s success was clear – this restaurant serves superb Japanese food.” With servers dressed in traditional Japanese Kimonos and the clean interior design, Kyoto has the feel of a little piece of Japan in the Rocky Mountains. Sam Tada had realized his dream of bringing that feeling of the home he grew up in, to his new home in Salt Lake City, Utah
While there have been some changes at Kyoto over the last 30 years, surprisingly many things have stayed the same. Three servers, Michiko, Keiko, & Yasuko, who were at Kyoto the first year it opened, are still there today. While the menu at Kyoto expanded greatly, with the addition of the Sushi Bar in 2001, the heart of the menu has stayed the same as it was on opening day. Some of the menu standouts, such as the Ebi Tempura, Agedashi Tofu, and “salty-sweet” Teriyaki, are the most popular items on the menu today.
New partners, The LaSalle Group, operators of Oasis Café, Golden Braid Books, and Faustina Restaurant, strive to maintain the amazing legacy that Sam & Yoshiko Tada have spent a lifetime creating. While the Tada’s are still at Kyoto on almost a daily basis, they can finally take some much deserved rest. The LaSalle Group prides itself in providing top quality fresh ingredients, friendly efficient service and a clean and appropriate atmosphere at all their locations, which makes this new partnership a natural success for everyone, especially our amazing customer base…the most important ingredient in Kyoto’s success since 1984.