Yama a beloved hub of Japanese food and culture

Although possessing the Rowling-esque address of 387 1/2 High St., the entrance of Yama Japanese Restaurant is actually tucked away on Fayette Street under a distinctive red awning. Founded by trained chef Mitsuo Yamashita in the 1990s, it has served as both a Japanese culinary and cultural hub for over 30 years.

During WVU’s academic year, Yama holds “Onigiri Days,” eagerly anticipated by many in the local community. These irregularly scheduled events are typically announced in advance on social media. Onigiri, a popular Japanese snack, isn’t available on the regular menu. The promise of the seaweed-wrapped rice balls, traditionally filled with savory ingredients like salted salmon and tuna, is enough to entice crowds of enthusiasts to line Fayette Street. Yama’s regular menu includes stand-by favorites like miso ramen, chicken teriyaki, sushi rolls and udon noodles.

Japanese pop culture is also on the menu of things to enjoy at Yama. A large bookshelf in the dining room is chock-full of Manga and other literature, and Japanese shows are often playing on a television screen.

Yama’s founder has recently retired and returned to his native Japan, but left the care of his restaurant to the capable hands of Min Kim, who apprenticed under him for a number of years. Kim has maintained his legacy. The restaurant serves as a cultural hub where people can connect over a shared love of Japanese cuisine and culture. The staff, known for its warmth and hospitality, contribute to an environment that feels more like a welcoming home than a restaurant.

Yama’s staff is enjoying a well-deserved break through June 5, but will return for lunch service on June 6. Onigiri Days will resume in August.

EVA MURPHY is a freelance business writer for The Dominion Post. She writes a column on businesses, churches and other entities in the city. To suggest a topic, email her at [email protected].