Hana Japanese restaurant at Leura will close at the end of the month.
Owner and chef Takeshi Shibata, at 63, is ready to don his apron one last time on March 31.
Mr Shibata started the restaurant, which is near the highway at the top of Leura Mall, 13 years ago. Before that he had run a Japanese restaurant in Sydney for six years.
His was not the first Japanese restaurant in the Mountains – that honour belonged to a man in Katoomba who ran one in conjunction with accommodation of some kind, Mr Shibata recalled, but it lasted only a couple of years
Mr Shibata said he has found it hard to get assistant chefs who can make Japanese food.
When the Gazette visited one recent Friday, the place was packed, with many tables going through three or more sittings. Patrons enjoyed the tempura prawns and vegetables on a bed of rice, fresh sushi and sashimi and, of course, miso soup.
One loca, Jane Daish, contacted the Gazette to say: “It is one of a kind. Chef and manager, Takeshi Shibata, introduced us to Japanese cuisine more than 15 years ago and we soon learned to love it.”
Others responded via Facebook after the Gazette posted the story, among them Liz Harrison: “Noooooo! Hana is an institution, Shibatasan we thank you for so many delicious meals and wish you all the best for the future. Selfishly, please reconsider the plan to close!”
Bianca Nogrady wrote: “What a huge loss for the mountains. We've been eating here for a decade and love it so much. We'll miss you.”
Miriam Fuhrmann posted: “We are devastated! Thank you so much for the great food and good times. You will be missed tremendously .”
Dewa Mann said: “Fish cakes were THE best.”
And Katia Carroll, referring to the Hana’s fare sold from the coffee cart at council chambers, posted: “OMG! spewin! Who will now deliver delicious nori rolls to the council?”
Will be missed
Mr Shibata thanked his suppliers over the years, including Fish and Fowl, Todarellos, Deliham and Leura Cellars, as well as his staff and customers.