I didn't live in York when Central Market housed a sushi stand a few years ago, so I appreciated the addition when Rob Katindig opened NAMA in January.
Unfortunately, I didn't try his food until recently. I most often go to the market in the morning, usually with coffee on my mind.
I stopped by on a market day for lunch and ordered a kani salad, and a spicy tuna and avocado roll. I watched behind a window as Katindig went to work arranging bright colored, flavorful fish.
The salad was seaweed mixed with shredded crab, cucumber and tempura flakes. The tuna roll came drizzled with a spicy mayo sauce on top.
Katindig prepared my meal in just a few minutes. I took it back to work and ate at my desk.
I usually go to Masa, Wild Ginger and Kissho for sushi, and I've never had something I didn't enjoy.
NAMA was no different. I was impressed when Katindig shared his experience, and I admired his desire to learn what people like about sushi.
The 39-year-old chef has traveled the country studying types of sushi-eaters. He has worked in Houston, Hawaii, California and Philadelphia, and he said every area is different.
The West Coast generally prefers tasting more fish.
Hawaii likes searing sushi with flames.
Katindig said York County customers tend to order cooked rolls with a lot of flavor, so he modeled his menu to satisfy that palate.
Popular items are the bella roll (spicy tuna, eel and avocado topped with seared squid and tobiko) and the shrimp tempura roll.
He created three signature sauces. He said many sushi restaurants use only two, spicy mayo and eel sauce. He also complements dishes with a miso sauce, made from a taste of miso and ginger.
"It almost tastes like carmel," Katindig said. "I developed that 'it' factor."
He moved from Philadelphia to York to open his business because his brother and a friend said his style would do well here. He said there's a need for more sushi in the city.
Until a few weeks ago, he was commuting
Katindig plans to open a sushi restaurant and lounge in the city, but first, he said, it was important to build up a clientele, which tends to be young professionals.
At the market, he can interact with customers and get to know their likes and dislikes. They, in turn, learn his style and who he is as a chef.
From my short encounter with Katindig and an hour-long interview, he seems to be a passionate chef with a flair for creativity - a perfect fit for the downtown crowd.
"It's a great thing when people know who I am," he said. "It helps people know what they can expect from my sushi."
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If you go
LOCATION: NAMA, Central Market, 34 W. Philadelphia St. in York
LEIGH'S PICK: Kani salad, spicy tuna avocado roll ($9.50)
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
PRICE RANGE: 75 cents to $12
KID'S MENU: No
DETAILS: Call 425-4747