In the '80s, it was cars; in the '90s, sushi. Yes, we're talking about Japanese imports. Look around St. Louis, or any American city, and you will find Japanese cars (some made in America) and Japanese restaurants everywhere. But it wasn't always like that. We remember the '80s, when there was this little hole-in-the-wall place on Delmar in University City (though not in the Loop) where a Japanese chef worked his magic in a cramped space behind a counter and a few tables were scattered in the back and the whole place seated no more than 15. For the sushi lovers among us, there weren't a lot of choices then. The chef was Noboru Kidera, who'd left his job at Tachibana to venture out with a place of his own. You walked in the door and he looked right at you from behind the counter with a smile. Every time. Then the sushi craze swept across the land, and before you could say IHOP, Nobu's had moved into the much larger space vacated by the greasy breakfast joint on Olive, just east of I-170. Whether you prefer the hamachi (yellowtail), the anago (sea eel) or the tako (octupus), Nobu's delivers. Incongruous as the new setting may be may be, we're glad for the extra space, the extra tables, the extra counter space. And although St. Louis now has many Japanese restaurants, we have a special affection for the man Riverfront Times food reviewer Joe Bonwich dubbed the "local sushi godfather." Walk in the door, and Mr. Kidera still looks right up at you from behind the counter and smiles. Every time.