A Q&A with Nakato in Atlanta

We tapped Sachi Nakato, the owner of her family’s restaurant Nakato in Atlanta, to answer some questions we had about how she got started in the industry and how she serves up some of the best Japanese food in Atlanta. Read on to hear her story and more.

Q & A

Tell us your story.

“I am the 3rd generation restaurateur of Nakato Japanese Restaurant in Atlanta, GA. My Grandmother "Testuko" Nakato and her younger sister ‘Yae’ Nakato started the restaurant back in 1972 at the young age of 63 and 57 with my mother, Hiroe Nakato and uncle, Kenzo Nakato. Fast forward 45 years, Nakato Japanese Restaurant continues to serve the southeast region of the United States with 4 other locations focusing on authentic Japanese dining. The Atlanta location, in particular, is run by the 3rd generation of women continuing the legacy of Grandmom ‘Testuko’ and ‘Yae’.”

How did you get started in the restaurant industry?

“I was born into the restaurant industry running around the kitchen and helping at a young age.”

What does being a woman in the restaurant industry mean to you?

“Being a woman in the restaurant industry means strength and determination. I have the utmost respect for women in the industry because naturally the work/family balance is a challenging one, especially if you have children.”

How has being female impacted the decisions you’ve made in your career? Your growth/career trajectory?

“Being a young woman in the heavily male-dominated restaurant industry was definitely a big intimidation factor especially with a Japanese background. The society is very patriarchal and even with the business being in the States and me being born in Atlanta, the Japanese cultural and societal influences was hard to shake for a young girl. It has been 14 years since I’ve been back full-time at my family’s restaurant business and I’m still in the learning process.”

Who’s your inspiration in the culinary world?

“My inspiration is all the working mothers of the world. Period. It doesn’t matter what industry. I know the hardships of balancing family and work and you can’t have one without the other. So my inspiration is my grandmother, my mother, my sister, and my staff with kids.”

What’s the best dish you’ve ever eaten that was prepared by a woman?

“My grandmother Yae’s Japanese style ‘korokke’ or croquette. It’s a popular Japanese home cooked food made with potato, vegetables, and ground beef.”

What’s your go-to delivery dish?

“Nakato’s Super Crunch Roll and King Shrimp Roll is my favorite delivery dish.”