Sarah Gavigan


Creator of OTAKU SOUTH

I guess you would call me a country girl if you knew I was born and raised in Columbia, Tennessee. If you really want to get down to origin though, I’m half Sicilian and half Irish, which means I am genetically predicated to be loud and eat a lot. I think that describes me much better than country girl.

My greatest passion in life is food. I have never taken a trip or vacation that did not revolve around food and bad meal can ruin my day. Conversely, a great meal can right almost any wrong in my book.

So how did a white Sicilian cracker from Columbia, Tennessee end up cooking Ramen?

Because I had to. Because the city I live in deserves it, and because I love making people happy with food.

Before moving back to Tennessee – this time Nashville – in 2009, I spent 17 years in LA where I developed a deep love for Japanese food in all its forms. Sushi is only one very small aspect of the culture’s food, and frankly, not my favorite. Yakitori, robata, sukiyaki, and steaming bowls of noodle soup, all styles of country Japanese food that are cooked and served in IZAKAYAS, (a Japanese Gastropub) – that’s the good stuff.

The first time I set foot into an Izakaya I knew I liked it. Small, convivial, and loud with steam rising from the kitchen, plates and chopsticks clinking everywhere. Busy and warm and inviting, shoes lined up by the door, people dressed casually, laughing and passing plates around the table.

The signature plates of an Izakaya vary, and some will even specialize in one style of cooking; yakitori chicken or ramen shop…but they all have the same feeling, that anyone from anywhere with a few bucks for a good meal is welcome here.