Are there any authentic Japanese restaurants in Cheyenne, Wyoming?
The Answer is NO. The truth is there probably wouldn't be ANY authentic Japanese restaurants in many countries of the world or many parts of the USA. You probably would ask: "what is your personal standard for defining an authentic Japanese restaurant?" Well, it's very simple, an authentic Japanese restaurants MUST have a Japanese chef, Japanese owner. So, why is it so important to me? I've been giving this question a lot of thought lately based on the conversation that I had with some of my friends.
First off, I'll say this is just for a better experience, in general. That being said, I'd rather go to a Thai place run by Thai people or a McDonalds run by an American. When a Thai person makes Thai food, chances are they've been making it their whole life. When someone else makes Thai food, it's probably something they learned recently (in the last few years). Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying non-Thai people cannot make good Thai food. I am saying that Thai people, in general, make better Thai food. Same goes with Japanese, even more so. When non-Japanese chefs cook Japanese food, the Japanese cuisine actually borrows a lot from other culinary traditions and cultures, they add their own flavors sometimes for preference, other times to cut costs, which are not considered authentic.
Secondly, which is more important, in general though, non-Japanese people running Japanese restaurants are in for the money, not for the passion. You'll be able to taste the difference in the food. Because the mark-up on price for anything called "Japanese" is higher, Japanese food restaurants have nice profit margins. People pay top dollar for sushi, this is why there are so many "Japanese" restaurants run by Chinese, Koreans, or even Vietnamese. There's a lot of "exploitation" in this way. When people are mainly in it for the profits, I find it hard to believe that they're in it for their passion of Japanese food. They're in it for the profits that Japanese food holds, which means the quality suffers as well (people who want more profits cut more corners). So, in general, Japanese restaurants run by non-Japanese people aren't as good. The experience isn't there and the passion isn't there.
It's estimated that only about a tenth Japanese restaurants in the States were run by people of Japanese descent. But how can you tell the difference between a Japanese owner and a non-Japanese owner? Well, sometimes you can't, especially for those who are not familiar with Japanese language and culture. There are a few hints that can help you identify a fake Japanese restaurant, but always remember this law: the incomes in Japan were already so high that it didn't make any economic sense for a Japanese chef to emigrate to work anywhere BUT in the priciest U.S. restaurants, often in major cities.