Authentic taste of home: Japanese restaurant in downtown Provo serves traditional home-cooked meals

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On Center Street you can find traditional home-cooked meals like those found in Japan. 

Kazuyo Stevenson is the “K” of K’s Japanese Kitchen and before working in the restaurant, she made meals for her big family.

“I was a housewife in Tokyo. I had 11 family members and making the food was a lot of work,” Kazuyo said.

Phil Stevenson said he met his wife in Japan working in a cafe after he had served a mission there for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Before moving to the U.S. in 2018 they lived in Japan and other countries for many years.

They lived on an island in Micronesia called Saipan for six years and Kazuyo learned how to be inventive with limited ingredients there.

“It was hard to find a lot of things,” Kazuyo said. “The water wasn’t good on the island. Buying rice was hard too. Even if you bought it, sometimes typhoons would keep the boats from coming … It was a six year period where I learned ingenuity.”

Kazuyo explains cooking Japanese cuisine in America can be challenging at times too.

“There are a lot of ingredients that you can’t find here, and it can be difficult, so I like to use other things to make the dishes,” Kazuyo said.

The Stevensons had plans to open a restaurant in Tokyo before plans changed.

“Our youngest daughter was going to school at UVU,” Phil said. “One day she got sick. It wasn’t anything really serious but a couple of days later my wife goes, ‘I want to make Japanese food in Provo.’ Very specific, and here we are.”

A sign on the door and the online menu makes it clear that sushi is not a choice when you come to eat here.

“We got here to Utah and we were thinking about what we wanted to do,” Phil said. “My wife … was very sad that everyone thought Japanese food was just sushi or ramen and she wanted to do something else so we came up with donburi.”

The Stevensons hope to give the people of Provo a taste of what authentic Japanese food is like. Donburi is the main dish served in the restaurant, which is generally a rice bowl with an assortment of toppings.

“It’s like comfort food in Japan. Everyone has it in their own family recipes. … she wanted to let Americans know — at least people in Utah — that there’s a lot of other things besides ramen and sushi.”

K’s Kitchen offers authentic and carefully made Japanese meals for customers in Provo who are interested in trying new foods or enjoying familiar flavors.

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