In 1946 when Edward Shigematsu, his wife Kikue and family opened Pacific Sukiyaki Restaurant in San Francisco, most Americans knew little about Japanese food. The early success of Pacific Sukiyaki prompted a move to its location on the California Street cable car line at Grant Avenue. The restaurant was renamed Yamato (which means Gate of Mountain in Japanese).
In 1954, Japan Airlines started to fly from San Francisco to Tokyo and selected Yamato to prepare their Japanese meals. When daily flights to Japan started, preparation of the airline meals was moved to Burlingame. While preparing meals for Japan Airlines, Yamato was honored to prepare meals for the Emperor Hirohito in September of 1975 and Emperor Akihito in June of 1994.
In 1987, the Emperor awarded Mrs. Kikue Ishizaki the Order of Treasure-Silver Rays, in recognition of her contribution to the spread of Japanese Culinary Arts in the United States. It was a timely and well-deserved honor. Mrs. Ishizaki passed away at the age of 93 on January 25, 1988. She made regular appearances at the restaurant until then.
Yamato Sukiyaki House closed its doors in 1997, however, the family continues to run the Yamato Flight Kitchen in Burlingame. The kitchen prepare Business and First Class Japanese food for Japan Airlines and United Airline flights from San Francisco to Japan as well as sushi trays and bento boxes for neighbor ceremonial occasions.
Yamato was on the cutting edge of the current trend of eating edamame. In 1991 Yamato started serving edamame at the restaurant and the Flight Kitchen started serving edamame on Japan Airline flights to Japan. Yamato Flight Kitchen continues to pack and promote edamame in local markets such as Mollie Stones.