Like the tragic part of a fairy tale, George Yamazawa was given his life, but robbed of his livelihood.
After his third bout with cancer, the chef and North Carolina sushi pioneer couldn’t taste a thing. His hands could cut fish, his eyes could recognize beauty, his ears could hear the sound of his wife’s voice.
But gone were salt and bitterness, sweet and savory, the pillars on which he had lived for decades. For months, nothing.
Then one day, something slight and subtle — a flicker — returned to his taste buds. The flicker grew to flames and then to a fire that changed everything for the George and his wife, Mayumi Yamazawa.
“I was so scared,” George said. “It was a gradual process,” he said. “But little by little (my taste) came back. The amazing thing is it became more alert and aware. I was able to use it again and it was more robust than it had been before.”
For 32 years, Yamazushi, the Triangle’s oldest Japanese restaurant, has been in the same unassuming south Durham strip mall off Hope Valley Road.
But it’s very different than the restaurant the Yamazawas first opened.