The opening of Hinata, a Japanese fine-dining restaurant that opened July 31 at 130 E. Washington St., represents the realization of a long-held dream for co-owner Nobuharu Nakajima.
In 1994 Nakajima moved to Indiana from Canada’s west coast to open a Columbus operation for his family’s Japan-based manufacturing company, Kamic Corp.
Nakajima describes eating as one of his top interests in life and said that the move here plunged him into a culinary culture shock. He missed the variety of dining options and the fresh seafood he’d been accustomed to in Canada and in his native Japan.
Indiana had its sushi bars and dinner-and-a-show-style hibachi restaurants, but he found them inauthentic.
“That is not reflecting our real Japanese culture,” Nakajima said.
So he set a goal of some day opening a restaurant focused on the food and culture of his native country.
That goal kicked into gear several years ago, when his brother was in Thailand on business and happened to meet Kazuhiro Hirata, an experienced Japanese restaurateur. Nakajima’s brother made an introduction.
Nakajima explained his idea to Hirata, who thought the concept showed promise. The two decided to partner on the venture and hired Akinori Tanigawa as chef. Tanigawa has 24 years of culinary experience in Japan, and moved here for the job at Hinata.
The 2,700-square-foot spot, which offers seating for 60 and two private rooms, promises to offer diners an authentic Japanese experience. Even the dishes and some of the furnishings were imported from Japan, Nakajima said.
The restaurant offers a prix fixe menu—multiple courses at a set price, with a limited number of options and a frequently changing selection. Menu options this week, for instance, include entrees of Sicilian sea bass, beef tenderloin and chicken in teriyaki sauce, among others. Appetizers include pumpkin mousse, Japanese omelet and sushi.
For $69, diners get a seven-course meal that includes appetizer, a dumpling, a seasonal dish, entrée, rice, soup and dessert. There’s also an eight-course option for $89 and a 10-course option for $120.
Diners should expect to linger—meals take between 2.5 and 3 hours. Because so much prep is involved for each meal, reservations are required. Hinata is currently open for dinner only, though it may offer lunch in the future.
“With Japanese food, it’s all prep and it’s all attention to detail,” said General Manager Stephen Graham. “We truly are selling the culinary art.”
Graham has been involved in several other downtown restaurant launches. He designed and built Iozzo’s Garden of Italy, a fine-dining Italian restaurant at 946 S. Meridian St.; was a consultant for the Tastings wine bar at the Conrad Indianapolis; and built and managed Barcelona Tapas, a small-plates restaurant that operated at 201 N. Delaware St. for a decade before closing in 2017.
In other news:
— The Colts Pro Shop at Lucas Oil Stadium has reopened, with some new COVID-19 precautions. Along with the usual measures—mandatory face masks and social distancing—the shop says it is not accepting cash as payment for purchases. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
— Tina’s Traditional Tearoom, at 30 N. Rangeline Road in Carmel, will close at the end of the month. In a message posted Monday on the business’ Facebook page, owner Tina Jesson said she will be selling the business to manager Heather Buchanan, and it will pivot to a new tea party catering service. Many Tina’s Traditional products are also available at tinastraditional.com or via the food delivery service Market Wagon.
— A pop-up shoe store, The Warehouse Sale, is coming to the former Macy’s at Glendale Town Center, 2625 E. 62nd St., for a 10-day run that begins Friday. The pop-up, which carries men’s, women’s and children’s shoes, will have a 15,000-square-foot showroom on the first floor of the former department store. Based in Columbus, Ohio, The Warehouse Sale started out as a straight e-commerce site selling women’s shoes. It began opening pop-up stores in the spring of 2019. This will be the company’s second local pop-up: it operated in Noblesville from July 24 through Aug. 2.