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Episode Seven

Artists and Craftsmen of the Great River Road – Simple Table by Hitomi

Hitomi of Simple Table by Hitomi, talks about farm to table in the Mississippi River town of Fort Madison, Iowa. An American/Japanese fusion restaurant with no need to advertise, word of mouth does it all.

Read the Podcast Transcript

Hitomi: My food is not like traditional Japanese food.

Interviewer:  Having a conversation with Hitomi from Simple Table by Hitomi, out of the Fort Madison, Iowa area.

Hitomi:  People think, oh it’s Japanese, it’s sushi or ramen or stuff like that.  But mine is just like home.  Because I’m Japanese so the little things, like a house dressings, or our cajun flavored house dressings, and when I craft food it will have a little Japanese twist in there.  But we don’t do traditional Japanese at all.

Interviewer:  So, how did you decide to have a farm to table type of restaurant Hitomi?

Hitomi:  Well, that’s how I like to eat.  I’m from Japan and I grew up with food like that.  Fresh and local is better.  Not like everything we have here is local, or anything.  But we try to do as much local as possible.  And then we do fresh products as possible and we try to make everything from scratch as possible.  That’s what we do here.

Interviewer:  Do you have any specialties?

Hitomi:  We do different things each day.  Our menu changes daily.  So sometimes I have, like every day, we have different specials.

Interviewer:  What’s an example of your menu Hitomi?

Hitomi:  So today, we had a lunch special.  Lunch and dinner is totally different here.  But lunch special today was a super turkey and veggie wrap.  There is a business here in town that does micro greens. So we used the micro greens in the wrap.  And then I had the barbecue pork and cheese quesadilla and then I have the Ahi tuna salad.  Then we have different kinds of sides you can pick from each day.  Today we had quinua/corn salad and then my native veggies and veggie beef soup.  That sort of thing.

Interviewer:  What do you like best about having the Mississippi in your back yard?

Hitomi:  Where I grew up in Japan, I grew up right in front of  a big river there too.  So rivers are really familiar to me.  And I like to watch the boats passing by and different people come in and out.

Interviewer:  I also had the chance to talk with Jimmy, Hitami’s husband, about what it’s like to live on the river in Iowa.

Jimmy:  We asked ourselves the same question several years back.  Living on the Mississippi is pretty cool.  There’s a certain energy that you get from it.  You’ll see big steam ships go up and down the river at times.  We’ve had military craft, like old WWII stuff that’s come in.  And then the birds.  There’s a flight pattern and the birds use the Mississippi to navigate.

Interviewer:  Do you guys have a website.

Jimmy:  No all we have is the Facebook page – Simple Table by Hitomi.  We’re really simplistic.  We don’t even have a cell phone.

Interviewer:  So how do we find Simple Table if we are in the Fort Madison area?

Hitomi:  We don’t advertise at all.  People just talk about us.  But if you Google us, I’m sure we come up with the Google and everything else.  But otherwise we don’t do any advertising except for the Facebook page.  We’re not even in the phone book or anything.  But you see, people find us.