As a food writer every once in a great while you run into a restaurant that from the moment it opens you know it is special. We watched the build out of Other Mama with great anticipation and have been regulars ever since they opened their doors.
Recently we sat down with Chef/Owner Dan Krohmer at Other Mama to get an intimate look at the man behind the Other Mama.
Q: Chef, Other Mama has achieved great success right from the beginning. Why do you think that happened so quickly?
DK: Many people that are journalists such as yourself, have experience at dining and reviewing all kinds of restaurants. When you talk about Other Mama and what your experience has been like,it creates a buzz with other professionals and locals. People are excited to see what’s going on off the strip. People here are invested in their community and looking to bring in good product and serve it in a non-pretentious at reasonable prices.
Q: What got you to Japan?
DK: I went to Japan and met up with the owners of sushi restaurant I worked at in Sacramento and fell in love with Traditional Japan along with the cherry blossoms and the whole thing, so I stayed. I asked to stay and worked illegally for like $300.00 a month. I did not know any Japanese at the time. I just kept my head down and absorbed. I think everyone should be a minority at some point in your life.
Q: How did you get a chance to work for famed Chef Morimoto?
DK: I got recruited as a Sous Chef after my Japanese training and farm to table experience. I worked for him for about two years before I saw that we was not too much into the kitchen so I transferred to the Sushi Bar where I gained huge experience from him for 2 ½ years.
Q: Tell me about the name Other Mama
DK: My Dads parents weren’t around much, working a lot in Bakersfield. My Great Grand Mother pretty much raised my dad and his brothers and sisters, they called her Other Mama. That’s how she was introduced to us as kids.
Q: The Cuisine at Other Mama is an interesting blend of Asian and American flavors. What is your philosophy on the menu you created?
DK: We take a lot of pride in everything we do here from our salts to our oils. We care about our customers like they are our family. I wanted to keep it neutral after doing Japanese cuisine for so long. I did not want people coming in expecting certain cultural necessities. We just want to be ourselves and celebrate what ingredients we have at the time.
We are not fusion. Obviously we are very seafood based and not following cultural boundaries. For example, Could this certain clam is best presented in a Spanish dish, and then we do it that way. We want to be free to do things as we want to do. I want you to walk out satisfied that you feel like you just walked off a yacht feeing sexy, having enjoyed the abundance of the sea. I learned there is a psychology at a sushi bar. Never let your customers leave full. Have them leave satisfied and wanting to come back. I love the artistry and composition of sushi. I learned don’t have your arms crossed, don’t turn your back on a customer, never have a dirty cutting board, show and give respect to everything you are doing. Sushi is simple but you are always thinking about how you can do it better. Sushi is a lifestyle and s state of mind.
Q: You have traveled and worked for years in this business. What advice would you give someone who is in culinary school or who is an aspiring Chef?
DK: Make sacrifices. It’s not an overnight process. The longer you wait to show what you can do, the better off you will be. Become the best chef you can possibly be before venturing out on your own. The more you sacrifice the better you will be.
Other Mama has become an overnight success. The doors open nightly (closed Tuesdays) at 5pm and it is highly suggested to get there early. It’s not long before the bar and restaurants are at capacity with many enjoying a very special experience. The Salmon Sashimi is one of the best we have had. Check the menu board for an excellent selection of Oysters delivered daily. You can’t go wrong with Caviar & French Toast w Crème Fraiche. This dish is an explosion of contrasting flavors that will keep you coming back for more. For Kim Chi lovers try the Pork Belly Kim Chi Fried Rice with Wild Mushroom and a Fried Egg.
Libations are a big part of Other Mama as well. Try one of their homemade infusions. Their signature cocktails are named after fine southern ladies such as the Billie-Joe which is a tasty blend of Hendrick’s Gin, Luxardo Maraschino, Cucumber & Basil. Or Dive into the Trixie, a perfect combination of Jameson, Canton Ginger, Lemon and Cayenne.
Come early to secure your seat at Other Mama. Chef Dan and his staff will make you feel right at home. It won’t be long before you are apart of Dan’s Other Mama family.