Osaka, the long-time Japanese restaurant right on the border of Summerlin, closed after a 23-year run on Lake Mead Boulevard and Buffalo Drive. Owner Joy Faas-Nakanishi decided to retire and move to Florida. The last day of service was Sunday night.
Her father Sam Nakanishi opened the original Osaka Japanese Restaurant on Sahara Avenue in 1969. An obituary after his death in 1998 noted that Nakanishi met his wife Aiko, from Osaka, in Overton, Nevada, while he was working on a farm, then decided to move to Las Vegas after they married in 1956. At age 17, the obituary says the Las Vegas native “spent much of World War II in a Japanese-American interment camp” after the war started. He later joined the Army, ready to ship off to Europe to fight with Japanese Americans, when the war ended.
Nakanishi went on to open Osaka Japanese Restaurant, noted as the first Japanese restaurant in Las Vegas, while the area around Sahara Avenue and Arville Street were still desolate. It went on to become a hot spot for the city’s elite to dine on fresh sushi and tempura dishes. Nakanishi brought in chefs from Japan and later Los Angeles to keep the menu as genuine as possible.
After Nakanishi’s death, Faas-Nakanishi went on to run the location near Summerlin, while her siblings operate the original restaurant and a second in Henderson, which both remain open.