It’s a bold step to ignore the classic strategy of hanging up paper lanterns, putting down wooden dividers and calling your eatery an authentic Japanese restaurant. Even bolder still is creating a menu that isn’t solely focused on sushi. Yama, a hole-in-the-wall establishment on High Street, does both and still manages to win the approval of this critic.
While the average diner might expect a scarcely populated lunch, Yama will quickly surprise you. The simplistic, and somewhat drab decor does nothing to dissuade what seems like a cult following at one of the only really authentic Japanese restaurants you’ll find in Morgantown. Though seating is quite limited in such a small place, you’ll never feel cramped or claustrophobic. The feeling is familial, even homey. With bookshelves filled with an array of different manga and a television playing Japanese game shows, you’ll never be in want of entertainment either.
Ordering is simple, just step up to the counter and tell them what you want. Careful, though; while having a variety of dishes, Yama doesn’t carry the largest selection of soft drinks, but you can try some of the fresh teas or imported sodas.
I was lucky enough to be advised by a usual Yama customer, going for the appetizing miso ramen, and if I were to call it amazingly flavorful, perfectly seasoned and so well cooked as to warm the bones of this overworked college student, it would be an understatement. The wait times for your food are also extraordinarily quick. Now I wouldn’t call myself an expert in Japanese cuisine, but the thick noodles accompanied by bean sprouts, pork and other vegetables in a miso broth prove to be a perfect lunch-time meal.
Other dining options include a variety of noodles, rice bowls, sushi and salads with the shrimp tempura being the next dish I’m dying to try. For vegetarians, there is an ample selection of cuisine that can be made to suit your needs.
Yama is located at 387 ½ High St. (entrance on Fayette Street) and is open from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday and 12 to 3 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. Saturdays and closed Sundays.