Elmwood’s newest restaurant brings warmth by way of Ramen, and freshness via scattered Sushi. SATO, a new Modern Japanese restaurant, opened on JAN 28 in the storefront that Organic 3 Cafe called home not too long ago. The space is framed by tall industrial ceilings, and simply decorated with modern furniture and Japanese influences. A full wall of windows looking out on Elmwood connect the front room to the elements beyond.
Owners Chef Satomi and husband Josh Smith unite local products with traditional Japanese culture to create a unique style of cuisine. Many aspects of the fare are traditional, with a twist. Sushi takes different shapes at SATO. Rolls are not a staple here. Instead, they offer Kansai-style; Temari Zushi, which is Kyoto-style ornamental balls, and Hako Zushi, which is Osaka-style and cleanly squared.
Chef Satomi grew up in Fukui, Japan where she spent time in a family-run restaurant. The SATO menu reflects a combination of her unique style, powerful ambition and broad experience with traditional Japanese cooking. The result is a unique and distinctive fusion cuisine.
Ramen dishes are featured on both the lunch and dinner menus, encompassing Japanese tradition and chic presentation.
3 Kinds of Ramen:
- SATO Ramen (pictured above)- a signature ramen made from scratch daily with umami rich tonkotsu and torigara (pork & chicken bones), topped with chashu pork, bean sprouts, green onions, menma (bamboo shoots) and pickled ginger. ($14)
- Spicy Miso Ramen – Tonkotsu (pork) and torigara (chicken) stock infused with SATO’s spicy miso mixture. ($14)
- Veggie Ramen – Fresh vegetable broth topped with seasonal vegetables. ($14)
Get Ramen Additions: Chashu Pork, garlic, bean sprouts, menma
Spanning the culinary spectrum
Comfort to cutting edge, SATO spans from one end of the culinary spectrum to the other. Ramen will fill you with warmth and satisfaction. Need more? SATO has you covered with Japanese Curry (pictured above)- roasted squash & winter green ($14), chicken ($16), or tonkatsu ($18), made with carrots, potatoes, onions, and apples. This isn’t your average Curry – the rice seems almost purple in color with a mixture of white and black heirloom rices.
If a clean, refreshing feeling is what you seek, explore the non-traditional sushi offerings like Chirashi Zushi. Owner Josh Smith describes this as “scattered sushi”. It’s a dish consisting of assorted sashimi over sushi rice – salmon, tuna, tamago egg and seasonal vegetables – assembled differently than many of us are used to.
The menu features small plates – not to be confused with starters (they have those too), ideal for sharing and trying several dishes. Small plates are always a great way to get a feel for the flavors of the cuisine. Just a few of the small plates offered at SATO include:
Gyoza Dumplings ($7.5, pictured above) Pork or Vegetable- homemade pan-fried dumplings made with ginger and garlic, served with dipping sauce
Shiitake and Flat#12 Mushroom Saute ($7.5, pictured above) – Sautéed shiitake and local mushrooms in a mouth-watering soy-seasoned compound butter
Sake Steamed Fresh Clams ($12) – Littleneck clams steamed in sake with a touch of lemon-soy sauce
Another small plate, found in traditional Japanese culture is the Salmon Carpaccio ($12) – Fresh salmon sashimi with mixed greens, thin sliced onion, and capers served in a ponzu and olive oil vinaigrette. This dish exemplifies the fusion techniques used in SATO’s kitchen, offering a blend of Japanese and Italian.
What will stick?
It will be interesting to see in the months to come, what Buffalonians enjoy most from SATO’s modern, fusion menu. Will it be the long anticipated ramen? The unique preparation of sushi or perhaps the Salmon Carpaccio small plate? Josh says they have already seen quite a bit of interest in the ramen, as well as the Tsukemono and steak and seafood entrées.
Tsukemono ($7.5, pictured above) – Assorted homemade Japanese and local pickled vegetables. This starter is also known in my mind as the “pickled plate” and features ingredients such as kimchi, assorted radishes & carrots, and bok choy
Rib-Eye Steak (10 oz, $30) Dry-aged Angus beef, pan-seared with SATO’s original teriyaki sauce, served with rice and sautéed seasonal vegetables
Surf & Turf ($32)- 5 oz rib-eye steak and ahi tuna steak, pan-seared with SATO’s original teriyaki sauce, served with rice and stir-fried seasonal vegetables
The Sake Bar
One aspect of SATO that is sure to draw an adventurous crowd (I’m excited) is the soon to be Sake Bar. A little background on Sake that Josh shared with me – Sake comes in many varieties ranging from sweet to extra dry, not unlike wine. It is served at different temperatures – room temperature, warm, very hot, and in some cases chilled. The best temperature to enjoy sake often depends on the specific type. As is similar in the case of white wine, flavors are strongest when the drink is at room, or body temperature. If the sake is served piping hot, it can be assumed that some flavor is being masked (similar to wine being ultra-chilled). This is a common practice for less expensive types of sake.
Sake is brewed in a similar fashion as beer, using fermented rice. The run-down of options available at SATO once they get their liquor license (hopefully sooner rather than later) is as follows:
JUNMAI 純米 – Pure rice w/ no distilled alcohol added
GINJO 吟醸 – Highly milled rice w/ at least 40% rice polished away.
DAIGINJO 大吟醸 – Highly milled rice w/ at least 50% rice polished away.
NIGORI にごり – Unfiltered cloudy sake
Before or after your Sake cocktail, try dessert. There’s a Coconut Honey Rice Pudding with toasted almonds ($5, pictured above) that I can’t stop thinking about.
If you’ve been anticipating the growth of our culturally unique dining scene, this is your cue. The prices are right and the sake should be flowing in no time.
Also pictured above: Kara Age Chicken ($9) – Japanese-style Kara Age fried chicken thigh, marinated in soy/ginger sauce. (Free-range, all-natural chicken)
739 Elmwood Ave. Buffalo, New York 14222