Destination Dining: Kokoro Sushi

Purdue’s nontraditional sushi house.

Tony Yamazaki (endearingly referred to as “Crazy Tony”) runs the show at this college-town sushi house, where the oversized maki rolls are packed fat with fresh fish and tempura-fried morsels (even hunks of alligator), and servers hoist out hulking bowls of bibimbap, teriyaki eel, stir-fried kimchi, and the Lafayette crowd-favorite blue-crab fried rice. The 64-year-old Yamazaki, who got his first job washing dishes in his father’s Chinese restaurant in Japan, has manned the sushi bar here for 25 years, making every dish himself, from the Thai Fire Chicken to the delicately pan-fried gyoza—crispy-edged packages of succulent ground pork and onions that take Asian dumplings to a higher level. So be patient. Be very patient. At peak times, expect to spend up to three hours, from check-in to check-out, in the company of the notoriously abrasive Yamazaki, a bit of a performance artist who slings sticky rice to a Bob Marley soundtrack that is occasionally drowned out by his own bellowed insults. Best to order a round of shochu-based cocktails (like the Tokyo Bloody Mary garnished with Japanese peppers and wasabi-filled olives, of course) and enjoy the show. Tues.–Thurs. 5:30–8:30 p.m., Fri. 5:30–9:30 p.m., Sat. 5-9:30 p.m., Sun. 5–8 p.m. 526 Main St., Lafayette, 765-742-8180,


While in Lafayette, check out …

McCord Candies: Open since 1912, the corner sweets store with the red-and-white–striped awning sells all manner of creams, truffles, and nut balls encased in dark and milk chocolate. The candies are dipped onsite in the third-floor kitchen. 536 Main St., 765-742-4441,

Hot House Market: Vintage aprons and 1970s kitchen kitsch share floor space with the flowered sofas at this carefully stocked secondhand shop. 900 Kossuth St., 765-490-7968

The Black Sparrow: Lafayette’s hipster hangout has a small-plate menu and a cocktail list, but the regulars duck in here to get their $5 PBR-shot combo and $3.75 well drinks. 223 Main St., 765-429-0405,

D&R Fruit & Meat Market: Persnickety carnivores shop the fresh meat case here for a locally sourced, painstakingly cut selection watched over by experienced butchers who also make the market’s own brats and sausages. 105 N. Creasy Ln., 765-448-6196,

Photos by Tony Valainis

This article appeared in the October 2013 issue. See more Destination Dinner stories here.