Banana tempura at Shohko Cafe — Photo courtesy of Steve Collins
Does the idea of good sushi in landlocked Santa Fe sound unlikely? Well, it’s not. Shohko Café – run by the Fukuda family – has been serving this Japanese favorite at their Johnson Street café since 1980, offering both lunch and dinner.
Johnson Street's a short two-block street with a lot of history. The old thoroughfare was once home to the US Calvary. The east end is anchored by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and the west by Shohko Café.
As you stroll down the charming byway, you’ll pass former brick barracks dating to the mid-19th century, as well as a few food-centric businesses, including Terra Cotta Wine Bistro and the Santa Fe School of Cooking.
Sushi chefs at work at Shohko Cafe — Photo courtesy of Steve Collins
Are you a big sushi fan? Book a spot at Shohko's sushi bar in the main dining room. You can watch the chefs at work performing their art. Trained by Shohko Fukuda – the café’s namesake – they turn out roll after beautiful roll, as well as glistening nigiri and sashimi.
Besides sushi, the menu offers traditional Japanese appetizers and entrees such as miso soup, yakitori, seaweed salad, tempura and teriyaki, as well as some more unique dishes, including Shrimp Stuffed Green Chile Tempura.
Shohko's green chile tempura — Photo courtesy of Steve Collins
Shohko Café has an extensive and carefully curated selection of sake, put together by experts to accompany your meal. Hiro Fukuda, co-founder of the restaurant, and his daughter Ayame own a sake distribution business. Ask your server to recommend one from their comprehensive list.
Hiro and Shohko Fukuda moved to the U.S. from Japan in 1967 with daughter Ayame in tow. Two other daughters, Iba and Mika, were born in California.
The Fukudas practically lived in their Dodge van for five years, traveling throughout California, Oregon and Washington and mostly staying in campgrounds and communes. Tight quarters for a family! Eventually, the family ended up in New Mexico and finally Santa Fe, where they opened a health food store in 1972.
When the Fukudas opened their first Santa Fe eatery (a block south of the current location) in 1976, few of their customers were familiar with Japanese cuisine. They had to supplement the menu with what Ayame calls “Americanized Chinese food.” By the time the café moved to Johnson Street, there was a bit of a sushi craze in the USA that had even spread to Santa Fe.
If you’re in Santa Fe and have a yen for sushi, head to Shohko and eat your fill.
Shohko Cafe — Photo courtesy of Steve Collins