Tim's Travels: The Far East Comes to the Midwest

By: Tim Elliott Email
By: Tim Elliott Email

A local man and his wife are bringing some international flavor to southwest Wisconsin! They've opened an authentic Japanese restaurant in Mineral Point called Kusaka.

The couple actually met in Japan and together, they survived the worst natural disaster in recorded history.

Chris and Hiroko Messer are getting their restaurant ready for the lunch-time rush.

“We are little worried that we don't have enough hands,” said Chris. “We're doing a local small town Japanese restaurant,”

Chris grew up in Cuba City.

“But eventually after college I couldn't find what I wanted to do so I ended up in Japan teaching English,” he explained.

It's there he met Hiroko, fell in love, and got married. But on March 11th, 2011, their lives changed forever.

“It was graduation day for the junior high school kids,” said Chris. “As we were putting the tables back and taking down photos, the earthquake struck,”

The 9.0 magnitude earthquake triggered a massive tsunami. Chris and Hiroko lived less than a mile from the coast.

“When the water came i was on the 3rd floor balcony and for me it was terrifying because we didn't know how it was going to go,”

To make matters worse, the couple lived close to a damaged nuclear power plant. They were forced to evacuate.

“I asked Hiroko what do yo wanna do and we left 20 minutes later,”

12 days after the earthquake hit, they moved to Wisconsin.

“Wisconsin is very cold, I was shocked first time, it's too cold!” said Hiroko.

Now, they're serving up cuisine from the far east here in the Midwest.

“What we do here is we do ramen which is a very traditional noodle Japanese dish. We are really doing a good job of keeping it authentic,”

“It's great for the community to add some diversity, the food is fantastic,” said local teacher Dianna Rogers.

While they will never forget the events of that day, Chris and Hiroko keep their attention towards the future.

“I look at tomorrow and what I can do today and that's what I'm focused on,”

Kusaka is located 1t 148 High Street in Mineral Point. They are open everyday except for Wednesdays from 11 am to 2 and 5 pm until 9.

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