Quality and affordable Japanese food at Imoya

Posted on Oct 13 2020

Imoya Restaurant owner Michael Jang, right, with chef Daniel Atalig. (Mark Rabago)

Michael Jang has brought a fresh vibe to Imoya Restaurant as he wants to reintroduce the 15-year-old Japanese restaurant to the younger generation.

Now under the ownership of the 23-year-old Marianas High School alumnus, the restaurant has an entirely new menu but maintains the rustic and traditional feel of the old Japanese restaurant that the community has come to love.

“Our menu is pretty much different from the old menu. I want to do more of a modern twist and I want affordable dishes that even high school kids who are broke can enjoy,” said Jang.

Opening not even a month ago, Jang and company are still feeling their way into the restaurant industry, but all indications show that they’re on the right track by the quality of the food they’ve been churning out and the great reviews they’ve gotten from customers.

Imoya Restaurant’s cheese katsu. (Mark Rabago)

Food that so far tickled everyone’s fancy are the sakura (fresh salmon with cucumber and flying fish roe), katsudon curry, pork loin cutlet, tempura udon, yellow tail with cream sauce, and miso cream pasta. The dishes that come out of Imoya Restaurant’s kitchen are fresh and tasty with a modern take on classic Japanese dishes that are obviously made with a lot of affection.

“Majority of our menu is under $15. …I’m still young and I know how it feels to be broke and have 25 cents in my bank account. So I thought, ‘Why not raise the quality of the food because it’s Asian and the ingredients can easily be shipped from Korea and Japan and I can offer a more affordable menu,’” he said.

One thing Imoya Restaurant won’t do is scrimp on the quality of its food, Jang said. “One thing I can guarantee—comparatively to pretty much any other Japanese restaurants here—is the quality of our food and the condition of our food is decidedly better.”

Imoya Restaurant’s sakura. (Mark Rabago)

Strategically located in the middle of the island, Jang’s hope is that Imoya Restaurant could quickly become the place to be for everyone on Saipan. “I want to make this place into something where you can go on a random Tuesday night. I want this place to be where people can come at any given night and just chat and enjoy great food for hours,” he said.

Jang said their menu is not set in stone yet as they will be coming out with an expanded one in the coming days. He also has his eye on creating other business ventures soon.

“It’s been only three weeks since we’ve been open. In the near future I want to expand the business. I might keep Imoya as my treasure No. 1. …It’ll be like my home ground and increase different varieties of cuisines that we have here and probably establish another restaurant but with a similar concept.”

Imoya Restaurant’s miso cream pasta. (Mark Rabago)

Jang’s high hopes is not just for Imoya Restaurant, but for the whole Commonwealth as well. “Saipan is a very small island but, at the same time, it has very little competition in the restaurant business. A lot of locals here…if you give them quality stuff that is reasonable they’re willing to spend for it. If you really think about it, Saipan can be the next Singapore.”

As far as following the guidelines of the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force, Jang said Imoya Restaurant has all the I’s dotted and the T’s crossed. “We…sanitize and wipe down all our tables and the restaurant’s surfaces after each customer. We have a long break (3 hours) so we have a lot of time to mop, water, and sanitize every single thing.”

A self-confessed entomophobia (someone who fears bugs), Jang said he also regularly calls exterminators to fumigate the restaurant so pest control is not a problem.

Imoya Restaurant is located across Atkins Kroll along Beach Road in Oleai. It is open from Monday to Saturday, 11am-2pm for lunch and 5pm-9pm for dinner. For reservations or for more information, call 488-2211 or reach them through their Facebook page.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at Mark_Rabago@saipantribune.com
Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.