News

Ikie Kurose of former Nak's Oriental Market dies at 78

Ikie Kurose, a longtime fixture of the community at the former Nak's Oriental Market in Menlo Park, died Saturday, Nov. 24, at age 78.

She was born on May 8, 1940, in Kawasaki-shi Kanagawa-Ken, Japan. In Japan, she wrote cooking articles for the NHK newspaper and was a chef at a Japanese restaurant. Her husband, Seikichi, or as he was known in the U.S., Sam, had been a news reporter at that newspaper, said her son, Ken.

The family moved to the U.S. in 1970, and later, in 1984, took over ownership of Nak's Oriental Market. The shop had originally been opened in 1968 by relatives of the Kurose family, but the relatives later moved to Japan for medical reasons.

The store, located at 1151 Chestnut St. in downtown Menlo Park, was known for its customer service and unique selections of not only Japanese groceries but Dutch and Indonesian foods as well.

The store closed on May 1, 2015, and the family lived in Nevada for about a year before they moved to Florida, where they have been since, Ken said.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Almanac Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

A legacy of "motherly kindness"

Her children say that Ikie loved to cook and feed people. Her limited English didn't keep her from showing kindness and making friends wherever she went, said her daughter, Tamami Hansen, in an email.

"It always amused us as she gesticulated wildly with her hands, her face animated and expressive as she communicated in her Japanese/English with one of her customers at Nak’s or a stranger that she just met on the streets. Noting that these 'conversations' were always one sided, we would ask, 'Do you understand what she is saying?' People were always kind, and would reply with a smile, 'Of course we understand,' and my mother would feel vindicated," Hansen said.

To further overcome the language barrier, she said, Ikie used food and cooking to show love to those she cared about. She often cooked in the small kitchen in the back of Nak's and fed her customers various snacks.

Suzanne Rocca-Butler, a longtime customer of the store, recalled that Ikie once made her a sandwich made up of smoked salmon, mango, cilantro, mayonnaise and black pepper. "It was very tasty, she noted, adding that she continues to make the sandwich to this day.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

Ikie also helped Rocca-Butler once when she was tasked with teaching Japanese folk dances at a festival by providing translations.

She recalls, too, that Ikie would display beautiful floral arrangements from her garden at the store counter.

Juri Kameda, another longtime customer, credits Kurose with three decades of friendship, and remembers her as someone who embodied "motherly kindness." Kurose was a provider of life advice, marriage counseling and cooking instruction, she said. When Kurose needed to explain complex Japanese recipes, she would enlist her husband to translate.

"Ikie and Seikichi were inseparable, as if they were two Japanese beautiful cranes," Kameda wrote in an email.

According to Ikie's son Ken, she and her husband loved to visit Mount Rose in Nevada, and visited there whenever they had time off away from the store.

She loved flowers, he said. "She would take seeds with her to Mount Rose and scatter her flower seeds where the wildflowers grow," Ken said in an email.

He said the family plans to eventually scatter her ashes at Mount Rose, as she had requested.

Kurose is preceded in death by sisters Tamie Nakamura and Carroll Minako, and brother Yasuaki Igarashi. She is survived by her husband Seikichi "Sam" Kurose; her son, Ken Kurose; her daughters, Naomi Harrington and Tamami Hansen; sisters Chihoko Iwasaki and Nobue Kokubu; and sons-in-law John Harrington and Eric Hansen.

--

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now

Follow AlmanacNews.com and The Almanac on Twitter @almanacnews, Facebook and on Instagram @almanacnews for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Ikie Kurose of former Nak's Oriental Market dies at 78

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Thu, Nov 29, 2018, 8:25 am

Ikie Kurose, a longtime fixture of the community at the former Nak's Oriental Market in Menlo Park, died Saturday, Nov. 24, at age 78.

She was born on May 8, 1940, in Kawasaki-shi Kanagawa-Ken, Japan. In Japan, she wrote cooking articles for the NHK newspaper and was a chef at a Japanese restaurant. Her husband, Seikichi, or as he was known in the U.S., Sam, had been a news reporter at that newspaper, said her son, Ken.

The family moved to the U.S. in 1970, and later, in 1984, took over ownership of Nak's Oriental Market. The shop had originally been opened in 1968 by relatives of the Kurose family, but the relatives later moved to Japan for medical reasons.

The store, located at 1151 Chestnut St. in downtown Menlo Park, was known for its customer service and unique selections of not only Japanese groceries but Dutch and Indonesian foods as well.

The store closed on May 1, 2015, and the family lived in Nevada for about a year before they moved to Florida, where they have been since, Ken said.

A legacy of "motherly kindness"

Her children say that Ikie loved to cook and feed people. Her limited English didn't keep her from showing kindness and making friends wherever she went, said her daughter, Tamami Hansen, in an email.

"It always amused us as she gesticulated wildly with her hands, her face animated and expressive as she communicated in her Japanese/English with one of her customers at Nak’s or a stranger that she just met on the streets. Noting that these 'conversations' were always one sided, we would ask, 'Do you understand what she is saying?' People were always kind, and would reply with a smile, 'Of course we understand,' and my mother would feel vindicated," Hansen said.

To further overcome the language barrier, she said, Ikie used food and cooking to show love to those she cared about. She often cooked in the small kitchen in the back of Nak's and fed her customers various snacks.

Suzanne Rocca-Butler, a longtime customer of the store, recalled that Ikie once made her a sandwich made up of smoked salmon, mango, cilantro, mayonnaise and black pepper. "It was very tasty, she noted, adding that she continues to make the sandwich to this day.

Ikie also helped Rocca-Butler once when she was tasked with teaching Japanese folk dances at a festival by providing translations.

She recalls, too, that Ikie would display beautiful floral arrangements from her garden at the store counter.

Juri Kameda, another longtime customer, credits Kurose with three decades of friendship, and remembers her as someone who embodied "motherly kindness." Kurose was a provider of life advice, marriage counseling and cooking instruction, she said. When Kurose needed to explain complex Japanese recipes, she would enlist her husband to translate.

"Ikie and Seikichi were inseparable, as if they were two Japanese beautiful cranes," Kameda wrote in an email.

According to Ikie's son Ken, she and her husband loved to visit Mount Rose in Nevada, and visited there whenever they had time off away from the store.

She loved flowers, he said. "She would take seeds with her to Mount Rose and scatter her flower seeds where the wildflowers grow," Ken said in an email.

He said the family plans to eventually scatter her ashes at Mount Rose, as she had requested.

Kurose is preceded in death by sisters Tamie Nakamura and Carroll Minako, and brother Yasuaki Igarashi. She is survived by her husband Seikichi "Sam" Kurose; her son, Ken Kurose; her daughters, Naomi Harrington and Tamami Hansen; sisters Chihoko Iwasaki and Nobue Kokubu; and sons-in-law John Harrington and Eric Hansen.

--

Comments

Bonny Novesky
Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Nov 29, 2018 at 12:52 pm
Bonny Novesky, Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Nov 29, 2018 at 12:52 pm
3 people like this

Loved going into Nak's. Ikie and Seikichi were always so helpful as I struggled to learn Japanese cooking.
They were a sweet couple and were missed when Nak's closed.


Twentse
Registered user
Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Nov 29, 2018 at 1:54 pm
Twentse, Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
Registered user
on Nov 29, 2018 at 1:54 pm
1 person likes this

What a great loss! She was a wonderful person. I loved shopping in their store. She was always so kind. Still miss her and Sam (and Ken) and their store. Warmest wishes to Sam, Ken, Naomi and Tamami and other family members.


Anneke
another community
on Nov 29, 2018 at 6:28 pm
Anneke, another community
on Nov 29, 2018 at 6:28 pm
2 people like this

These two hardworking humans did a marvelous job in a country that was originally not their own. I remember the couple and their son extremely well. Ken told me once that each morning they would go very, very early to San Jose to get the best tofu for their customers.

It was a lovely little cosmopolitan center for people from Japan, The Netherlands, Indonesia, and more. As an original Dutch citizen, I found all the lovely little things I became used to before I very happily married a US citizen from Massachusetts more than 47 years ago.

Also, one time I saw a kind lady load all kinds of Dutch cookies, candies, licorice and more into her basket. When we started talking, she told me her husband was a grandson or even a great grandson of the KLM founder, Albert Plesman, of Royal Dutch Airlines.

Ikie-san, please rest in peace. Seikichi-san, please know you and your wife were very loved. Ken-san, I know you will support your Dad. My sincere kindness thoughts go out to you and your Dad.

They became a success in their adopted country. Kudos.


BH resident
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 30, 2018 at 12:28 pm
BH resident, Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 30, 2018 at 12:28 pm
Like this comment

She was always so kind and helpful when I went in to buy their fresh tofu. I’m so sorry for your loss. Rest In Peace.


PHF Menlo
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 30, 2018 at 9:12 pm
PHF Menlo, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 30, 2018 at 9:12 pm
Like this comment

Enjoyed, loved Naks over the years. Wonderful owners who always took such good care of their customers and neighbors. Rest in peace.


Seikichi (Sam) Kurose
another community
on Dec 1, 2018 at 1:34 pm
Seikichi (Sam) Kurose, another community
on Dec 1, 2018 at 1:34 pm
5 people like this

To my former Customers and Friends,

Thank You so much for the wonderful comments about my wife and myself.
I am so touched. Life without my other half will be tough but I surround myself with wonderful memories of her. I miss and will always keep her close to my heart. Thank you again for your kindness.

Seikichi Kurose


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.