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Carefree take-out outpost of authentic Japanese sweets and matcha drinks “Cha-An BONBON”

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By Aya Ota

“I wonder, since when did Americans start to enjoy Japanese sweets this much?” ---You cannot help but feel such astonishment when you look at the store-front of Cha-An BONBON, where many customers crowd around. Cha-An BONBON opened on May 1 of this year as a place where you can take out the popular matcha drinks, Japanese sweets, Hojicha softcream, which is still new and rare in New York, etc., and are offered at Cha-An Teahouse.

“Cha-An Teahouse” opened in 2004, which is 15 years ago. It is one of the T.I.C. Group establishments that runs 18 various style Japanese restaurants in New York. The concept of “Cha-An” is “the tea”, and it offers a wide variety of teas such as black tea and Chinese tea besides Japanese tea and matcha. When it opened, it had equipped with an authentic ceremonious tea room.

Their menu includes traditional Japanese sweets such as “anmitsu” and “zenzai”, western style sweets accentuated by Japanese ingredients such as “Matcha Pudding” and “Black Sesame Brulee”, plus healthy carefully-prepared meal plates. Now, this place is so popular and crowded every day, but they used to struggle so much for the first few years, that some days it was difficult to make even $100 profit a day. Back then, people expected Japanese tea to be served for free at Japanese restaurants. People also used to ask for coffee daily. Besides all that, being located on the second floor made it even more difficult to acquire customers.

“We’ve been simply doing the same thing for the last 15 years,” tells Tomoko Yagi, the wagashi expert & food consultant of T.I.C. Restaurant Group, in a humble manner. She got married to Bon Yagi, the President of T.I.C. Group, and came to the US in 1986. She had dietician and cook licenses in Japan. After reaching the point of settling down and raising children, she was asked to give ideas for desserts served at the Group’s restaurants such as “Sakagura” and “Sobaya”. Since then, not only for “Cha-An Teahouse”, but she also has been producing desserts for all other T.I. C. Group restaurants.

Tomoko said that she had to learn how to make delicious Japanese sweets by herself because it was difficult to find good wagashi in New York back then. As wagashi started to be recognized more and more, she started to hold more wagashi making classes by request. Now the class has grown so popular that it gets filled every time. She is currently busy working as a wagashi teacher even at places such as Japan Society and Japan Club. Most of the students are non-Japanese. They gather to experience the charms of wagashi enjoyed by the feel of each season and each of the 5 senses. Tomoko’s remark is very humble, saying she has just been doing the same thing for 15 years, but I think she is clearly one of the pioneers who has been creating the current matcha and mochi booms.

“Cha-An BONBON” is a small place of only 117 square feet with a showcase. Many customers have expressed their hopes of taking Cha-An’s sweets home before, so this place opened to make such long-awaited wishes come true. They studied deeply before deciding on the prices and the menu items by holding a free-sample eating event for affiliated people before the opening. Not only that, they thought a lot about good sizing and packaging of the products for take-out purposes, and they also thought about making the products look as attractive as possible with SNS posting in mind by decorating them with edible flowers, bright colors, etc. In fact, SNS effects have been helping well to collect people to visit the store, and go to wagashi classes. Their sweets taste very authentically Japanese, even more so than the ones sold in Japan.

The popular items are mochi-based sweets such as “Homemade Daifuku Mochi” and “Mitarashi Dango”. Matcha and Hojicha flavored soft ice cream (softcream), parfait and anmitsu using shiratama and gyuhi are all house-made, and excellent. Each matcha drink is made to order very carefully, and is very flavorful and tasty. They have put a lot of thought into making gift-in-mind cookies, financiers, and matcha sets. Before them, there were limited selections of wagashi for take-out or gifts in New York, so their merchandise has been very well received. The bread used for Cha-An Teahouse’s new menu item, “Fruit Toast”, is also baked in-house, and it is supposed to be sold at Cha-An BONBON starting this fall.

“There is still a lot we want to do, and can do. I would like to keep enforcing the Cha-An brand,” says Tomoko Yagi. They are thinking about multiple shop development and E commerce. I won’t be able to take my eyes off of their future endeavors.


本格派和風スイーツや抹茶ドリンクを気軽にお持ち帰り
『茶菴BONBON』


「いつから米国人はこんなに和菓子を楽しむようになったのか」――多くの客で賑わう店頭を眺めながら、そんな驚きを隠せない店『茶菴BONBON』。『茶菴』で提供している人気抹茶ドリンクや和風スイーツ、ニューヨークではまだ珍しいほうじ茶ソフトクリームなどをお持ち帰りできる店として、今年5月1日に開店した。

『茶菴』が開店したのは2004年、15年前のこと。ニューヨークで、さまざまな業態の日本食店を18店舗経営するT.I.C.レストラングループのひとつだ。『茶菴』は“お茶”がコンセプトで、日本茶や抹茶を中心に、紅茶や中国茶も幅広くそろえ、開店当時は本格的な茶室を備えていた。「あんみつ」や「ぜんざい」といった純和風甘味や、「抹茶プディング」「黒胡麻クレームブリュレ」など和食材をアクセントにした洋菓子、健康によい素材で丁寧に作った食事メニューを提供する。同店は、今でこそ連日混雑する人気店だが、開店後数年は、1日100ドルの利益を上げるのが大変だった時期もあるという。当時はまだ、日本食店でお茶が無料で提供されるのが当然だったし、客からコーヒーはないのか連日尋ねられたという。また、2階に位置しているため、集客も苦労したという。

「15年前から同じことをやっているだけ」と謙遜しながら話すのは、和菓子研究家兼フードコンサルタントの八木共子氏。T.I.C.グループ代表・八木秀峰氏との結婚を機に、1986年渡米。日本で栄養士と調理師の資格を持っていたこともあり、子育てが一段落した頃に、同グループの『酒蔵』や『蕎麦屋』のデザート考案を依頼されたことがきっかけで、今では、『茶菴』をはじめとするT.I.C.グループのレストラン全般で、デザートをプロデュースしている。

「当時は、ニューヨークで美味しい和菓子の入手が困難だったので、独学で作り方を学んだ」という共子氏。和菓子が認知されるに連れ、客の要望で和菓子教室を開始し、今では、毎回満席になるほどの人気クラスに成長した。現在は、ジャパン・ソサエティや日本クラブでも和菓子講師として活躍する。生徒はほぼ非日本人で、季節感や五感で楽しむ和菓子の魅力を体験するために集う。共子氏は「15年前から同じこと…」と謙遜するが、間違いなく、現在の抹茶や餅ブームを創り上げてきたパイオニアの一人だろう。

『茶菴BONBON』は、面積たった117スクエアフィート、ショーケースだけを設置した小さな店舗。以前から「茶菴のスイーツをお持ち帰りしたい」との声が多く、満を持しての開店だ。開店前には関係者向け試食会も実施し、値段やメニュー内容を精査した。また、テイクアウト用にサイズやパッケージを工夫しただけでなく、食用花をあしらい色彩を鮮やかにするなど、”インスタ映え”する見た目を意識したという。実際に、同店や和菓子クラスへは、SNSからの集客に成功している。味はどれも、日本で食べるもの以上に日本らしさを感じる本格的な内容だ。

人気アイテムは「大福」や「みたらし団子」などの餅菓子。抹茶やほうじ茶のソフトクリーム、白玉や求肥を使ったパフェやあんみつも秀逸で、すべて手作りで提供する。抹茶ドリンクは注文ごとに丁寧に点ててくれ、香りや風味が格別だ。贈り物にも最適なクッキーやフィナンシェ、抹茶セットにも力を入れている。これまでニューヨークでは、お持ち帰りや贈答品に使える和菓子が限られていたので、好評を博している。『茶菴』の新メニュー「フルーツトースト」で用いるパンも店内で焼いており、秋には『茶菴BONBON』でも販売する予定だ。

「まだまだやりたいこと、やれることがたくさんある。茶菴ブランドをもっと強くしていきたい」と語る八木共子氏。多店舗展開やEコマースなども視野に入っているといい、今後も目が離せない。



Cha-An BONBON
238A E 9th St, New York, NY 10003
Tel: 646ー669-9785
https://www.chaanteahouse.com/bonbon

Mon-Thu 12-8pm
Fri-Sun 12-9pm
#ChaAn #BONBON #NY #hojicha #anmitsu #zenzai

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Expanding quickly to 3 locations in the LA area, a ramen restaurant chain from Tokyo, Rakkan Ramen

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By Keiko Fukuda

I don’t know why, but in the beach cities of the Los Angeles suburbs, there were no ramen restaurants for a long time. It is the area which includes Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, and Hermosa Beach. There were several ramen restaurants in nearby cities, Torrance and Gardena, and new establishments were coming to Costa Mesa, Little Tokyo, and Sawtelle, all of which were definitely avoiding the beach cities. However, in early 2019, when I was driving on the Pacific Coast Highway in my local area, Redondo Beach, a banner on the wall of a Japanese restaurant which used to be owned by my acquaintance, caught my eyes. The banner had a photo of a ramen bowl!

I couldn’t wait long, and visited that restaurant the following week. That was Rakkan Ramen. On my first visit, I tried the Amber Ramen in a soy sauce-based mild-tasting soup. On the second visit, I tried the miso-based Spicy Garnet. The soup is rich and flavorful, and the noodles have just the right texture and thinness, and the charshu on top is delicious! Not only that, the place is close to my home. I have nothing to complain about. This find is a “big hit”!

Rakkan Ramen also has a location in Downtown, LA, and recently opened another location in Santa Monica, but I kept going to the Redondo Beach location. When a half year had passed since I started to visit there, I requested to interview them through their website. Their CEO had agreed to do an interview at the Redondo Beach location.

On the interview day, I was shocked about how young the CEO, Mr. Ito looked. He further shocked me by telling me that he was only 24 years old when he opened the very first Rakkan Ramen location 9 years ago in Nishi Azabu in Tokyo. He told me, “I was once a cook on a ship. I took the cooking course in high school, and acquired a cooking license when I graduated from high school. I also liked designing and the arts, so I went to a special school for it. Then I boarded a ship, and worked as a cook. I also did some back-packing travels. I had no experience in the ramen business, but there was an izakaya called “Namihei” on the ship where I was working as a cook, and there, I used to serve ramen at meal breaks for the employees who came from various parts of the world, which was very well received.”

Following Nishi Azabu, Rakkan opened 4 more locations in Tokyo and its suburbs. Despite the confidence he felt, he wanted a further challenge to pursue his dream of running a business overseas, and opened the first American location in Little Tokyo of Downtown, LA in July of 2017. I asked about the difference from Japan. He answered, “First, the soup is non-animal based, although there is charshu on top (lol). Dashi is made with vegetables and kombu. The reason is, I thought that going with vegan would be more widely received in the US.”

Moreover, in order for customers to use the place as an izakaya, they included items that go well with Japanese sake on the menu such as buns (pork buns and vegetable buns) and appetizers to satisfy customers here, which are not found in Japan. They offer 10 different brands of Japanese sake. As for the Redondo Beach location, dinner accounts for 75% of the sales, maybe because there are no business offices nearby, and lunch accounts for only 25%.

“I run 4 locations in Tokyo. There are differences between Japan and the US, and especially in Tokyo; not only the environment, but also the speed of business is different. It took me a long time to deeply observe the market environment in the US, and figure out how to go about it,” says Mr. Ito. In other words, instead of carrying over the successful strategy in Japan, I needed to come up with a new strategy unique to the US. In the end, I could say that it was a wise decision, although it took time to achieve.”

I asked Mr. Ito about the future prospects. He said without hesitation, “I will push franchising.” With the acquired license to allow franchising in the US, he is planning to aggressively participate in expositions in Chicago in September, Houston in October, Paris in 2020, and London. Mr. Ito says, “I think that is the best way to spread the Rakkan brand.” I was curious to know where the name, Rakkan, came from. He said, “After traveling the world, I wanted Japanese people to feel more optimistic.”


LA地域に3店舗と急成長中東京から進出したラーメン店

なぜだか分からないが、長い間、私が暮らすロサンゼルス近郊のビーチシティーにはラーメン店がなかった。マンハッタンビーチ、レドンドビーチ、ハモサビーチが含まれるエリアだ。隣接するトーランスやガーデナにはいくつもラーメン店があり、新規の店も、コスタメサ、リトルトーキョー、ソーテルと、見事にビーチシティーを避けるような場所を選んでいた。しかし、2019年の頭、地元のレドンドビーチのパシフィックコーストハイウェイを車で通っていた時に、以前は知り合いがオーナーだった日本食店の建物の壁面のバナーが目に飛び込んできた。そのバナーにはラーメンの写真。

翌週、私は早速、その楽観ラーメンを訪れた。初回は醤油ベースのスープが優しい味のAmberラーメンを、2回目は味噌ベースのSpicy Garnetを注文した。スープのコク、程よい硬さと細さの麺、そして上に乗ったチャーシューまでが美味しく、さらに家から近いとあれば申し分がない。「当たり」だった。

楽観ラーメンは他にダウンタウン店もあり、サンタモニカにも最近店を開けたばかり。しかし、私はレドンドビーチ店に通い続けた。そして、通い始めて半年後、ウェブサイト経由で取材を申し込むとレドンドビーチ店でCEOがインタビューに協力してくれることになった。

当日、伊東CEOの若さに驚いた。話を聞いて、さらに驚いたのは、楽観ラーメン1号店を、9年前に西麻布に開けた当時、伊東さんはまだ24歳だったということ。「もともと船のコックだったんです。高校の調理科出身で、調理師免許は高校卒業時に取得しました。さらにデザインやアートが好きだったので専門学校に通い、その後、世界中を巡る船に乗り込んでコックをやったり、バックパッカーとして旅をしたり。ラーメンの経験はなかったんですけど、働いていた船の中に『波平』という名前の居酒屋があって、そこでの賄いに色々な国の人を相手にラーメンを出したところ、すごく好評だったんです」。

西麻布店に続き、東京都内と近郊に全部で4店舗を展開した。手応えは感じていたが、「海外でビジネスをやりたい」という夢を叶えるため、2017年7月にロサンゼルスのリトルトーキョー(ダウンタウン)にアメリカ1号店をオープンした。日本との違いを聞くと「まずスープが動物系ではないことです。チャーシューは乗っていますけど(笑)、野菜や昆布で出汁をとっています。アメリカで広く受け入れられるためにはビーガンで行くべきだと思ったことが理由です」。

また、居酒屋として利用してもらうために、日本にはないバンズ(ポークバンズとベジタブルバンズ)やアペタイザーなどの酒のつまみになるメニューも充実させた。日本酒も10種類揃えている。ちなみにレドンドビーチ店の場合、近くにオフィスがないからか、売上のうちの75%をディナータイムが占め、ランチは25%に留まっているということだ。

「東京で4店舗経営していますが、アメリカと日本、特に東京では、環境はもちろん、ビジネスのスピードが違います。どのような市場環境かをしっかり観察して、それに合った対策を施すのにアメリカでは時間がかかりましたね」と伊東さんは話す。つまり、日本での成功戦略を踏襲するのではなく、アメリカならではの戦略を新たに立てることが、時間がかかったとしても結果的には賢明だということなのだろう。

今後の展開について質問すると、「フランチャイズを進めていくことです」と即答した。アメリカでフランチャイズを販売する資格を手に、9月のシカゴ、10月のヒューストン、さらには2020年のパリやロンドンと、エキスポに積極的に出展する計画だそうだ。「楽観というブランドを広めるにはそれが一番の方法だと思っています」と語る伊東さん。気になる店名の由来について聞くと、「世界を回って、日本人にもっと楽観的になってほしいなと思ったからです」と答えた。



Rakkan Ramen
629 S Pacific Coast Hwy
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
(310) 543-0586
https://rakkanusa.com/

Sun.-Thu.
11:00am-11:00pm
Fri. & Sat.
11:00am-12:00am
#ramen #LA #Rakkan

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"Serving Vegan Sushi & Vegan Japanese Sake"

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By Kosuke Kuji

We discussed Nanbu Bijin obtaining the first vegan certification in the world for Japanese sake. Many Japanese nationals don’t know the term vegan, so naturally, vegan restaurants were not widely known in Japan. However, many foreigners visiting Japan ahead of this year’s Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are vegetarians, for whom serving meals that meet their dietary requirements is a challenge, even in the capital Tokyo.

Restaurant “Gonpachi” in West Asabu city, renowned as the place where former Prime Minster Koizumi dined with former President Bush – started serving vegan sushi with vegan Japanese sake.

Vegan sushi was served first before vegan Japanese sake was introduced on September 18 to offer vegan and vegetarian customers a safe combination of authentic Japanese sushi with Japanese sake.

This is a major development since Gonpachi is probably the most renowned restaurant in Japan to foreign visitors. A high ratio of foreign customers instigated the instantaneous availability of vegan sushi with vegan Japanese sake for foreigners both visiting and residing in Japan.

Some data suggests vegan customers spend twice to three times the average customer spending on meals.

In the U.S., Whole Foods is placing great effort into vegan cuisine. How Gonpachi resolves this challenge is greatly anticipated.


「ヴィーガン寿司とヴィーガン酒を日本で」

前回南部美人では世界初のヴィーガン認証を日本酒で取得したお話をしました。

日本人はヴィーガンという言葉すら知らない人が多く、当然日本国内では今までヴィーガン専門のレストランなどはあまりありませんでした。

しかし、今年のラグビーワールドカップ、そして2020年の東京オリンピック・パラリンピックに向けて、多くの外国人が日本にもやってくるようになりました。

その中の一部はヴィーガンやベジタリアンの外国人も多く、そういった人たちが安心して食事をするのが難しい状況でした。それも日本の首都東京ですら。

そんな中、小泉元総理大臣とブッシュ元大統領が会食したことであまりにも有名な西麻布の「権八」レストランで、ヴィーガン寿司とヴィーガン日本酒がスタートしました。

先行してヴィーガン寿司が始まっていましたが、9月18日からはヴィーガン日本酒も加わり、ヴィーガンやベジタリアンの方々も安心して日本の名物である寿司と日本酒を楽しむことが出来るようになりました。

これは大変大きな出来事で、権八は外国人にはおそらく最も有名な日本のレストランです。そして外国人のお客さんの比率も大変高く、そこでヴィーガン寿司とヴィーガン日本酒が当たり前に食べ、飲めるようになった、瞬く間に日本に住む外国人や、インバウンドの外国人に伝わると思います。

ヴィーガンの方々の食事にかける費用は、普通の人の2倍から3倍と言うデータもあります。アメリカではホールフーズなどはヴィーガンに力を入れている関係もあり、これからの権八の挑戦がとても楽しみです。
#vegan #sushi #sake #Japanese

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New York’s first “Nikkei Cuisine”, a unification of Japan and Peru

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By Aya Ota

“Nikkei Cuisine” has been developed by “Nikkei”, the people who immigrated to Peru in the late 1800’s, and their descendants who have been making Japanese dishes using the local ingredients. Peru is a country that is long-stretched from north to south, and embraced by unique geographical and climate conditions neighboring the Pacific coast, Amazon tropical jungle, and Andes Mountain’s high plateau, and the country is naturally blessed with diverse food ingredients. The “Nikkei Cuisine”, which was born through the unification of rich food ingredients and the traditions and techniques of Japanese cuisine, has grown to become not only one of the major food genres in Peru, but has also been demonstrating its fine presence in the world-wide restaurant ranking such as “World’s 50 Best Restaurants”.

The first restaurant which featured this “Nikkei Cuisine” in New York, is “Sen Sakana– Nikkei Kitchen” The name of the restaurant (Sen- Sakana) is derived from Japanese words, which mean 1,000 fish.

“I always try to enlighten our customers about the Nikkei Cuisine,” says Mina Newman, the executive chef. Her mother is Peruvian, and she grew up surrounded by Japanese food ingredients and Nikkei cuisine. During the last 20 years or so, she has been demonstrating her skills at notable New York restaurants which include Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and steak house restaurants. Her partner chef, who has been demonstrating skills together with her, is Taku Nagai, who was the head chef of the first Ootoya, New York. The menu which has been created by these two chefs of completely different backgrounds has been satisfying gourmet New Yorkers.

Every item on their menu is filled with something new and a surprise. “Buta Queso Cremoso” (Peruvian cheese wrapped in pork belly) looks like yakitori at first, but is made with crispy quinoa, spicy sauce, and lime, which provides enjoyment with different textures. “Halibut Sudado De Mariscos” is a dish that hides ramen underneath its rich-variety of toppings. Its soup, which has been cooked for 6 hours with various seafood, goes well with the custom-made curly noodles. In the “Big Eye Tuna Tartar”, a rhythmic texture has been created by combining tuna and avocado with cucumber pickles, and added quinoa and flying fish roe topping is accentuated by their house-made spicy sesame oil. They use vegetables and fruits which are rarely used in Japanese cuisine, so every bite tasted new to us. However, without being deliberately different, each dish has been cleverly created to give a well-balanced taste. The ratio is different, but the essence of Japanese cuisine such as dashi, soy sauce, miso, seaweed, etc., is contained in every dish. The colorful-ness and fine presentation of each dish is also very impressive.

Newman says, “Our menu has been inspired by the feel of each season.”

The menu gets renewed every 2 months. They also offer a special menu item weekly, featuring seasonal ingredients. She continues, “I also work the hardest to discover new ingredients.” They bring in all sorts of ingredients from both Japan and Peru for testing. Her favorite Japanese ingredient is soy sauce. She says, “It possesses intricate layers, and expanding taste, so we use it as a secret ingredient for many things.” As for drinks, cocktails sell well. Their cocktails stress on Nikkei-unique flavors using Pisco, and shiso or yuzu as an accent.

It is not easy to operate a restaurant of 180 seating in the center of Midtown, and you can see their signs of efforts in many areas. This restaurant is also putting efforts on having private events and catering. They also do not close between lunch and dinner hours, so customers can enjoy lunch until 4pm, which is very well received by business people and tourists. They also offer happy hours between 3 and 7pm. Having various spaces; main dining, bar, counter, and private rooms, can accommodate all sorts of situations.

“Sen Sakana”, which is attracting New Yorkers with their unprecedented innovative concept, makes you feel like you want to keep trying one dish after another.


日本とペルーが融合したニューヨーク初の“日系”料理

1800年代末期、日本からペルーへ移住した移民とその子孫である「日系人」が、現地の食材を使って日本食を作ったことで発展した「日系料理」。ペルーは南北に長く、太平洋沿岸、アマゾン川流域の熱帯雨林やアンデス山脈の高地といった異なる地形や気候を擁することから、多様な食材に恵まれた国だ。その豊かな食材と、和食の伝統や技術が融合して生まれた「日系料理」は、ペルー国内で一大ジャンルとして成長しただけにとどまらず、今や『 World’s 50 Best Restaurants 』をはじめとする世界的なレストラン・ランキングでも存在感を示している。

この「Nikkei」をニューヨークで初めて謳ったレストランが『Sen Sakana– Nikkei Kitchen』だ。日本語で“1000種類の魚介類(one thousand fish)”が店名の由来だ。

「常に客に対して日系料理について啓蒙している」と語るのは、料理長のミナ・ニューマン氏。ペルー人の母を持ち、子供の頃から日本食材や日系料理に触れて育った。これまで20年以上、地中海・中東料理やステーキハウスなど、ニューヨークの数々の名店で腕を振るってきたシェフだ。ニューマン氏のパートナーとして活躍するのは、かつて大戸屋のニューヨーク進出第一号店で料理長を務めた永井択氏。全く異なるキャリアを持つ二人が、アイデアを出し合って創り上げたメニューは、舌の肥えたニューヨークの客をうならせている。

同店のメニューは何を頼んでも、新しい発見と驚きに満ちている。一見、焼き鳥のように見える一品は「Buta Queso Cremoso (Peruvian Cheese Wrapped In Pork Belly)」。クリスピーな食感のキヌアやスパイシーソース、ライムで、味の変化を楽しめる。「Halibut Sudado De Mariscos」は盛りだくさんな具材の下にラーメンが隠されている一品。特製の縮れた太麺に、複数の魚介類を6時間煮込んで作る濃厚なスープがよく合う。「Big Eye Tuna Tartar」はマグロとアボカドにキュウリの漬物を組み合わせリズミカルな食感を生み出し、さらにキヌアとトピッコをトッピングし、アクセントに同店特製のラー油を使った一品だ。日本食では使わないような野菜や果物を駆使し、どれもこれも初めて食べる味。しかし、決して奇をてらうことなく、調和の取れた味を作り出しているのが見事だ。割合はそれぞれ異なるが、どの料理にも、出汁や醤油、味噌や海藻など、日本食のエッセンスが含まれる。色彩や盛り付けの鮮やかさにも目を奪われる。

「メニュー開発のインスピレーションは季節感」とニューマン氏。2カ月に一度は新しいメニューを開発するほか、毎週のように季節の食材を取り入れたスペシャル・メニューを出している。また「食材の発掘に一番力を入れている」と続ける同氏。日本、ペルーの両国から、さまざまな食材を試し、取り入れているという。ニューマン氏が好きな日本食材は醤油。「複雑なレイヤーがあり、味に膨らみがある」ので、さまざまな隠し味として用いている。ドリンクメニューではカクテルが人気。日本酒とピスコを合わせたり、紫蘇や柚をアクセントにしたりと、“日系“色を強く打ち出した内容だ。

ミッドタウンの中心地で席数180もの店舗を運営するのは簡単なことではないが、さまざまな運営の工夫が見られる。同店では、プライベートイベントとケータリングにも力を入れているほか、ランチとディナーの間も休憩なく開店しているのが特徴的で、客は午後4時までランチを楽しむことができるので、ビジネスマンや観光客にも好評だ。また、毎日3〜7時までハッピーアワーも実施している。メインダイニング、バー、カウンター中心のスペース、プライベート・ルームなど多様なスペースがあり、一人でも大勢でも、あらゆるシチュエーションに対応できる。

 これまでにない斬新なコンセプトでニューヨーカーを引きつける『Sen Sakana』、次々と違うメニューを試したくなる。



Sen Sakana – Nikkei Kitchen
28 W 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
212-221-9561
https://sensakana.com/

Monday – Friday: 11:30 AM – 10 PM
Saturday: 5 PM – 10 PM
Sunday: Closed
#SenSakana #NikkeiKitchen #NY #Peru

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Running for several decades as a diner in the day time, and an izakaya at night time

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Running for several decades a... Running for several decades a... Running for several decades a... Running for several decades a... Running for several decades a...
By Keiko Fukuda

In 1992, I came to Los Angeles initially to spend a long holiday after quitting a publishing company in Tokyo. However, 6 months later, I ended up staying for a while because I had an opportunity to work for a Japanese community magazine, and also acquired a working visa. The office was located in Gardena, a southern suburb of Los Angeles, where many Japanese and Japanese Americans live. The restaurant, to which my coworker took me on my first day at work, was Azuma, which was located on the same street as my office.

Their menu contained dishes which were similar to those of diners in Japan.

However, I was astonished by unexpectedly large volume of the dishes I ordered when they were delivered in front of me. I thought it could be only my imagination, but after that, it seemed like volume was getting larger and larger every time I visited.

In 2003, I quit this first company and became a freelance writer. I was visiting Azuma less often after that, and started to visit the restaurant occasionally at night while they were operating as an izakaya rather than during lunch time.

Azuma was always crowded as it was before, every time I visited. There was an aikido dojo right across from Azuma on Western Street, where my son used to take lessons 3 times a week. When I was waiting for my son outside of the dojo in those evenings, I used to smell delicious grilled fish from across the street.

More than a quarter century has passed since I first visited Azuma. What is their secret for being loved for so long in the South Bay as a Japanese restaurant and as an izakaya as well? I asked for permission to interview the owner. The current owner is Hideki Obayashi, and he is a third-generation Japanese American. He runs the restaurant with a partner, Frank Nakano. He said that they bought Azuma from the previous owner in 2002.

“I overheard a waitress at Azuma saying “the restaurant is on sale”. As an izakaya of Gardena, it was the only one back then, so it sounded very appealing, and I made a bid with Frank. We were the third bidders, but we were lucky enough to become the new owners.”

He said that ever since they took over, the restaurant has continued to run smoothly without losing the lasting reputation as a popular restaurant. “Recently, Yelp has been helping a lot. Most of the customers write quite highly about us. Once in a while, we get a bad review, but it seems to me that some competitor is just trying to pull our legs because we are so confident about our foods and services,” says Hideki wearing a confident smile.

They have not changed the basic menu since the time of the previous owner. They just made small changes to accommodate customers’ requests. As for the popular items, he says, “Caucasian customers like rib-eye steak and sashimi.

Third-generation Japanese Americans prefer curry or omelet-rice over usual combination dishes. And, health-conscious customers surely love grilled fish such as saury, mackerel, and salmon, and sashimi. For those who drink, we have a comprehensive izakaya-style menu, and we carry all the Japanese popular beer brands; Asahi, Sapporo, and Kirin,” he answered. I said, “Why don’t you carry Orion beer? There is the North American Okinawa Kenjin-Kaikan Hall right in the neighborhood.” “Sure enough! We should check into it,” said Hideki, diligently taking notes, showing his enthusiasm of the business.

Well, it has been already 17 years since Hideki and Frank took over. I asked the reason for their ever-lasting popularity that keeps appealing to even repeating customers. He answered, “There are three. First, a rich and wide variety of menu items. Second, large volumes of food. Lastly, excellent service by our servers. The last, third point is especially difficult to achieve. We are always asking around to look for good candidates.”

Several blocks down south on Western Street from where Azuma is located, there used to be Toyota’s headquarters until 3 years ago. Although the population of surrounding Japanese and Japanese food lovers also moved away with Toyota, Azuma seems to keep busy by winning a wide variety of customers’ hearts with their good food.


昼は定食屋、夜は居酒屋で数十年

1992年、東京の出版社を辞めた私は、長期の休暇を過ごすような気持ちでロサンゼルスにやって来た。しかし、渡米半年後に日本語の情報誌で働ける機会とビザを得て在留することになった。その職場は日系人や日本人が多く暮らすロサンゼルス南郊のガーデナにあった。そして、初日のランチタイムに職場の先輩が連れて行ってくれたレストランが、同じ通り沿いの吾妻だった。

日本の定食屋と同じようなメニューが並んでいた。しかし、オーダーした料理を実際に目の前にすると予想外のボリュームに驚かされた。その後、店を訪れるたびにボリュームが増え続けるように感じたのは気のせいだったのだろうか。

その後、2003年に最初に勤めた会社を辞めてフリーランスのライターになってからは以前より頻度は落ちたものの、ランチではなく夜に時折、居酒屋として利用するようになった。そして、いつ訪れても吾妻は変わらず繁盛していた。また、ウエスターン通りを挟んだ真向かいに、息子が週3日通う合気道の道場があった。夕方、息子の稽古を道場の外で待っていると、通りの向こう側から焼き魚の美味しそうな香りが漂ってきたものだ。

私が最初に吾妻を訪ねてから四半世紀以上が経った。サウスベイで変わらず日本食レストラン兼居酒屋として愛されている秘密は何か、オーナーに話を聞こうと取材を申し込んだ。現オーナーのヒデキ・オオバヤシさんは日系3世。フランク・ナカノさんとの共同経営で、前のオーナーから吾妻を2002年に買い取ったそうだ。

「吾妻のウエイトレスから、『店が売りに出ている』を耳にして、ガーデナの居酒屋としては当時、唯一の店だったから、魅力的に感じてフランクと名乗りを挙げました。買いたいと言ったのは僕たちで3組目だったんですが、運よく、僕たちが新しいオーナーになれました」

以降、ヒデキさんたちが引き継いでも、それまでの人気レストランとしての評価を下げることなく経営は順調に推移して来たと話す。「ここ最近はYelpが非常に役に立っています。ほとんどのお客さんが高い評価をつけてくれますからね。時折、低い評価もあるけれど、あれは競合店が足を引っ張っているんじゃないかって思うほど、自分たちの料理やサービスに自信を持っています」とヒデキさんは余裕の笑顔だ。

前オーナーの時代から基本的にはメニューを変えていないが、顧客の要望で一部のみ変更したとのことだ。人気の品は「白人の顧客にはリブアイステーキや刺身がよく出ます。日系3世になると一般的なコンビネーションより、むしろカレーやオムライスをオーダーする人が多いです。また、健康志向の人にはやはり、サンマ、サバ、サーモンなどの焼き魚や刺身ですね。お酒を飲む人向けには居酒屋メニューが充実しているし、ビールはアサヒ、サッポロ、キリンと日本のブランドを全て取り揃えています」と答えた。「オリオンビールは置いていないのですか?すぐそこに北米沖縄県人会館があるのに」という問いに対して、「確かにそうですね。検討しなくては」と早速メモを取るヒデキさんの姿に、商売熱心な姿勢が見えた。

さて、ヒデキさんとフランクさんの代になってすでに17年、昔と変わらず人気店としてリピーターを引き付けている理由を聞いた。「3つあります。まず、メニューの種類が多いこと。次にボリュームがあること。最後にサーバーの対応が良いことです」。3番目の人材は特に難しいポイントで、常にいい人がいないか、人に聞いて探していると話す。

吾妻の場所からウエスターン通りを数ブロック南下した場所には、3年前まで北米トヨタの本社があった。トヨタの移転と共に周囲の日本人人口、そして日本食の愛好者の人口も流出したが、吾妻は幅広い層の顧客の胃袋を掴むことで変わらず繁盛を続けているようだ。



Azuma
16123 S Western Ave
Gardena, CA 90247
(310) 532-8623
#azuma #Gardena #izakaya

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Get Your Appetite Back with Sake

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By Yuji Matsumoto

The other day I had the opportunity to go to Las Vegas due to business, but couldn't believe that the day high was 45 degrees C (113 degF). With hot winds and scorching heat that may seem to melt the asphalt, I lost my appetite and found myself in an unhealthy predicament to spend a whole week in an air-conditioned room.

To ease my body from this heat, I decided to join (mariage) miso grill with a summer favorite vegetable nasu (eggplant) with extremely cold "Junmai Daiginjyo" .

Nasu doesn't contain much of nutrition value, but as you know miso (soybean paste) helps you with fatigue recovery, cancer prevention, cholesterol control, proper bowel movement, beauty improvement, brain activation, age prevention, stimulation of body function etc and the list goes on. Also, soybeans that are the main content contain fine quality protein, an abundance of necessary amino acids, saponin that is known to prevent increase of peroxide lipids, different vitamins, potassium, and food fibers etc. You couldn't be more than happy that miso goes well with Japanese sake.

So why don't we enjoy ourselves by having high nutritional value miso food and Junmai Daiginjo and help our body recover from the summer heat.



日本酒で食欲回復

仕事で先日、ラスベガスに行く機会があったが、日中気温はなんと摂氏45度。熱風と灼熱でアスファルトも溶けんばかりの暑さに食欲もなくなり、冷房の効いた部屋で一日を過ごす不健康な一週間をおくる羽目になった。

さて、そんな体を癒すために今回は夏野菜の定番、ナスを使ったみそ焼きとキンキンに冷えた純米大吟醸でマリアージュしてみた。

ナスは、それ自体多くの栄養価を含んでいないが、味噌はご存知のように疲労回復、がん予防、コレステロールの抑制、消化促進、整腸作用、美容効果、脳の活性化、老化防止、基礎代謝の促進など揚げればきりがない。また、主原料である大豆には、良質のたんぱく質が多く含まれ、必須アミノ酸のほか、過酸化脂質の増加を防ぐといわれているサポニン、ビタミン群、カリウム、カルシウム、食物繊維など様々な栄養素が豊富に含まれている。さらに、味噌は日本酒と合うので、これほどうれしいことはない。

今回は、栄養価の高い味噌料理と純米大吟醸で気持ちよくなりながら夏バテした体を元気にしてみてはいかがかだろうか。



以清酒恢復食慾

前段日子,因工作關係而有機會前往拉斯維加斯;怎料白天的氣溫竟達攝氏45度。伴隨令人懷疑能夠融化瀝青的熱風及熾熱空氣而來的,是食慾的喪失;以及導致要度過「在空調房間度過整天」,不健康的一周。

好吧,為了治愈這樣的身體,我嘗試了混合經典夏季蔬菜——茄子——的烤製味噌和冰冷純米大吟釀,作出完美糅合。

茄子本身雖然並不含有很多營養價值;但眾所周知,味噌可以消除疲勞,預防癌症,抑制膽固醇,促進消化,調節腸道,有助美容,活化大腦,抗衰老,促進基礎代謝等;功用多不勝數。此外,作為主要成分的大豆除了含有許多優質蛋白質,必須的氨基酸外;還含有如據說可以防止脂質過氧化物增加的皂苷、多種維生素、
鉀、鈣和膳食纖維等各式各樣,十分豐富的營養素。再者,味噌與清酒非常配合,沒有比這更令人感到興奮的事。

這次,何不嘗試在享受營養價值高的味噌料理和純米大吟釀的同時恢復因夏天而疲累的身體?



니혼슈(일본술)로 식욕 회복

얼마 전 출장으로 라스베가스에 갈 기회가 있었는데 무려 낮 기온이 섭씨 45도였습니다. 아스팔트도 녹일 듯한 뜨거운 열기에 지치고 식욕도 없어져 방에 틀어 박혀 에어컨을 틀고서는 일주일을 나른하게 보냈습니다.

그렇게 늘어진 몸에 활력을 불어 넣고자 여름 제철 채소, 가지를 이용한 일본의 미소된장 가지구이에 시원하게 보관한 준마이 다이긴죠(純米大吟醸)를 페어링 해봤습니다.

가지는 그 자체로 영양가가 많은 편이 아니나, 미소된장은 알려진 바와 같이 피로 회복, 암 예방, 콜레스테롤 억제, 소화 촉진, 정장 작용, 미용 효과, 뇌 활성화, 노화 방지, 기초 대사 촉진 등 그 효능이 이루 셀 수 없이 많습니다. 또한 주원료인 대두에는 양질의 단백질이 다량 함유되어 있으며 필수 아미노산 외에도 과산화지질의 증가를 막는다는 사포닌, 비타민 군, 칼륨, 칼슘, 식이섬유 등 각종 영양소가 풍부하게 들어 있습니다. 게다가 미소된장은 니혼슈와도 잘 어울려 더할 나위 없는 기쁨을 선사합니다.

이번 기회에 영양가 높은 미소된장 요리와 함께 준마이 다이긴죠를 한잔 기울이며 여름철 더위로 지친 몸과 마음의 활기를 되찾아 보는 것은 어떨까요.
#sake #recipe #Junmai #miso

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First in the World! Vegan-certified Japanese Sake Released

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By Kosuke Kuji

Nanbu Bijin is the first sake product in the world to receive the “Vegan” certification in January 2019, certified by The Vegan Society based in England and NPO Vege Project Japan.

The original ingredients of Japanese sake are rice, malted rice, and water, common knowledge among those somewhat knowledgeable about Japanese sake, and knowledge as basic as grapes being the main food ingredient for wine.

However, examining the Japanese sake label shows the ingredients are listed only in Japanese. Needless to say, this makes understanding the sake ingredients difficult for foreign consumers.

Faced with this dilemma, Nanbu Bijin’s sake and liqueur were certified as satisfying “Kosher” requirements stipulated under Jewish dietary laws in 2013.

Through this certification, Nanbu Bijin products were gradually introduced not only among non-Japanese fans of Japanese sake and non-Japanese consumers knowledgeable about Japan, but also among a wide range of non-Japanese consumers. One American national asked, “If Japanese sake is Kosher, why won’t you get Vegan-certified?” Of course, examining the Japanese sake ingredients gives evidence the product is “Vegan.” However, none of the Japanese sake products were certified as Vegan, because it was so obvious, no one noticed, to be more precise.

We have to start from disseminating the most obvious information to reach consumers beyond the Japanese. Therefore, we took on the challenge and with some time, we finally received the Vegan certification.

Japanese sake is produced using absolutely no animal products. Not only is this true for Vegan-certified Nanbu Bijin sake products, but also for other Japanese sake brands as well. Therefore, our sincere desire is for the entire Japanese sake industry to work together to get more sake breweries Vegan-certified to increase the value of Japanese sake products as a whole worldwide.


「世界初!ヴィーガン認定の日本酒誕生」

南部美人では、2019年1月、世界で初めて日本酒の「ヴィーガン」認定を受けました。イギリスを本部とするヴィーガンソサイエティーと日本のヴィーガン協会の2つから認定を受けました。

日本酒の原材料は「米」と「米こうじ」、そして水です。

これは日本酒をちょっとでも知っている人ならば誰でも知っている事で、まさにワインの原材料が「ぶどう」と答えるのと同じような基本的な事でもあります。
しかし、日本酒のラベルを見ても、原材料の部分は日本語でしか書かれていません。これでは外国人が日本酒の事を理解するのは難しいです。

そんな中で、南部美人では2013年にユダヤ教の食餌規定を満たす認定「コーシャ」を日本酒とリキュールで認められました。

そのことで、日本酒好きのノンジャパニーズや、日本の事を良く知るノンジャパニーズだけでは無く、広い範囲のノンジャパニーズの皆さんにお酒を少しずつ浸透させていきました。アメリカである方から「日本酒はコーシャであるなら、なんでヴィーガンの認定は受けないのか」と言われました。確かに日本酒の原材料だけ見ると間違いなく「ヴィーガン」です。しかしどの日本酒もヴィーガンの認定は受けていない、むしろ当たり前すぎて気づかなかったという方が正しいかもしれません。

当たり前なものを「見える化」しないと、日本人以外には伝わりません。そこで挑戦を始めて、時間がかかりましたがやっとヴィーガンの認定を受けました。

日本酒は動物性のものは一切使っていません。それはヴィーガンに認定された南部美人だけではなく、他の日本酒も一緒の事です。願わくば、日本酒業界が一丸となって多くの蔵がヴィーガン認定を取ることで、世界で日本酒の価値がさらに高まることを祈っています。
#vegan #sake #南部美人 #NanbuBijin

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Niku Steakhouse: A unique steak specialty restaurant, serving directly-imported wagyu from Japan, opens

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By Elli Sekine

Wagyu is becoming a fullfledged boom. You already regularly find “wagyu” in menus of American restaurants and delicatessens. However wagyu as a category in the US is still vague. In the meantime, “Niku Steakhouse”, which opened last year in the Design District of San Francisco, is a new type of steak restaurant that emphasizes brand wagyu and A4-5 quality strongly as a Japan-direct wagyu specialty restaurant. Since its opening, this restaurant has been so popular, that it has been achieving full capacity daily.

The Gulf region where this Design District is located, is changing to an IT business base due to a large-scale redevelopment. In this District, there has been a series of construction rushes of buildings and condominiums in the last 3 to 4 years, and along with the big IT businesses flowing into the area, the population has grown rapidly, public safety has been improved, and the number of high-end restaurants has also grown quickly. “Omakase Restaurant Group”, which started its restaurant business in this area early on, has been opening Japanese and Asian restaurants one after another, and producing many successful restaurants.

The “Omakase Restaurant Group” has developed a total of 5restaurants and a shop so far in this area. There are a variety of business models and concepts in them, from a Michelin-starred “Omakase” restaurant, to the casual “Dumpling Time” and “Udon Time”.

Among them, this “Niku Steakhouse” uses a high-end model, utilizing a cutting-edge facility and latest cooking techniques. This Group’s operation staff are Chinese. With their strong efforts in teaming up, they have developed unique routes and approaches to Japanese culture, education, and networking. They keep getting offers from investors because of their achievement records and planning power. They have a plan to launch a new venture in the near future, and “Dumpling Time” went overseas to Shibuya this year.

What is tremendously contributing to the quality management of the main theme of “Niku Steakhouse” which is the superb quality wagyu, is the “butcher shop” next door to the restaurant. There, Guy Crims, who is in charge of importing and butchering meat, is the core person who travels throughout Japan to purchase large quantities of meat. The carefully selected wagyu by Mr. Crims is cut by section first, and then further gets custom-cut to match each individual order. You can taste the specialty of the direct import quality of the steaks cooked in accordance with the weather conditions, raising methods, etc. of each region of the ingredients.

At the butcher shop, sliced wagyu with its characteristic delicious-looking marbled-fat patterns are displayed artistically, and are catching the eyes of the visitors. In this shop, even the location of production, individual ID number, and nose print of each wagyu are described. I asked the reason that they can offer relatively reasonable prices compared to other restaurants’ on A5 wagyu. Mr. Crims simply said, “It is because we buy a big bulk.” By selling also at the store front, the high-quality meat circulates with no waste. From last month, they started to sell “wagyu hamburgers” for lunch time only, and this has been causing a customer rush.

Its roomy interior space is modern and sophisticated. Its high ceiling and the courtyard outside of the windows provides a relaxed ambience. The counter space by the entrance is beautiful, and the tall and wide shelves that reach the ceiling showcase various alcoholic beverages, which heighten the restaurant spirit. At the bar counter, most of the customers enjoy pairing with wine. A drink menu with a vast selection containing everything from cocktails to sake, to wine and popular Japanese whiskey, is very attractive as well.

The dining space has an open kitchen, and a highly advanced grill and a gigantic charcoal burner table are installed to symbolize the restaurant’s “evolving steakhouse” image.

The person in the kitchen, who cooks tactically with radiating orange-colored flares from burning Japanese Binchotan charcoal and American domestic oak charcoal is the executive chef, Steve Brown. He was hired for his previous cooking experiences in working for a high-end steak restaurant and other fine restaurants. His high skills for delicately adjusting temperatures and achieving perfect doneness of meat, and his house-made fermented hot sauce are highly praised.

The Wagyu menu of the day of my visit contained A5 Satsuma, A5 Ono, A5 Kobe, A5 Takamori, etc. In addition to wagyu, the main menu also contains 40-day dry-aged prime Angus Porterhouse, Ribeye ($110~130), Kurobuta pork chop ($65), etc. The A5 wagyu each had a unique taste of richness, juiciness, flavorful-ness, smokiness, umami, and deepness. It depends on your preference, but the most popular item on that day was Takamori, which was on the sweet side, and well-balanced. Its umami spreads all over your mouth, and lingers for a long time. When you cut into the nicely browned aromatic surface, a beautiful pink inside appears. The superb balance of fat, protein, and minerals only produced by wagyu beef is concentrated in the umami by grilling it on the strong Binchotan charcoal fire.

“Niku Steakhouse” is the one and only wagyu specialty steak restaurant in the US, which utilizes locally-specialized wagyu knowledge and evolving techniques.


米国随一、日本直輸入和牛専門ステーキ店オープン

和牛ブームがいよいよ本格化している。すでに米国のレストランからデリまで「Wagyu」メニューは日常的となった。しかし未だに米国での「Wagyu」のカテゴリは曖昧だ。そんな中、サンフランシスコ、デザイン地区に今年オープンした「Niku Steakhouse」は、日本産輸入和牛専門としてブランド和牛とA4-5 品質をしっかりアピールする新しいタイプのステーキ店だ。オープン以来連日フルハウスの人気を博している。

デザイン地区を含む 湾岸一帯は、大規模な再開発でIT ビジネス拠点へと変貌している。同地区ではこの3、4年ビルやマンションの建設ラッシュが続き、IT大手企業が流入し人口が激増、治安は改善されハイエンドのレストランが一気に増えた。この地区に早くから飲食ビジネスを始めた「Omakase RestaurantGroup」は、日本食やアジアレストランを次々とオープンさせ、繁栄店を続出させている。

同エリアに現在計6 店舗を展開する同グループは、ミシュラン一つ星の「Omakase」からカジュアルな「Dumpling Time」、「 Udon Time」まで異なる業種とコンセプトを持つ。中でも「Niku Steakhouse」は最新鋭の設備と調理テクニックを駆使したハイエンドレストラン。同グループの経営陣は中国人で、強力なチーム編成で日本へのアプローチ、教育、ネットワークに独自のジャパンルートを持つ。同グループの業績と企画力でインベスターのオファーは後をたたない。近い将来、新規事業も予定しており、「Dumpling Time」は今年、渋谷に海外進出を果たしている。

 「Niku Steakhouse」の主役、高品質の和牛の品質管理に大きく貢献しているのが、レストランに隣接した「ブッチャーショップ」だ。そこで輸入調達、食肉処理を担当するガイ・クリムズ氏は、良質のブランド牛農家を訪ね日本国中を旅し大量買い付けをする中心的人物だ。同氏が吟味した和牛は、ここで部位に切り分けられた魂肉は、目的に応じ最適なオーダーカットが施される。各地方の気象条件や肥育の特性を生かしたステーキは、産地直送ならではの味わいだ。

ショップでは、和牛の特徴である美味しげな霜降り模様の切り身がまるでアートのように配列され、訪れる客の興味をそそっている。店内では各和牛の生産地、個体識別番号、鼻紋まで表示する徹底ぶり。他レストランのA5 和牛と値段を比べるとリーズナブルな理由について同氏は、「仕入れの量が違うから」と一言。店頭販売もしており、上質肉を余すことなく循環させている。先月からはランチタイムのみ「和牛ハンバーガー」の販売が始まり、客が殺到している。

広い店内は洗練されたモダンなイメージで、高い天井とガラスごしの中庭が落ち着いた雰囲気を醸し出している。入り口には美しいカウンターバーがあり、天井まで届く広い棚には多種のアルコール類がレストランスピリッツを掻き立てる。ほとんどの客はワインとのペアリングを楽しんでいる。カクテルから酒、ワイン、人気のジャパンウィスキーまでバラエティに富むドリンクメニューも魅力的だ。

ダイニングルームはオープンキッチンになっており、「進化するステーキハウス」を象徴すべく最新グリルと巨大な炭焼テーブルが備る。日本産備長炭とアメリカ国内オーク炭を巧みに操りオレンジの光を放ちながら調理するのは、同店のエグゼキュティブシェフ、スティーブ・ブラウン氏。高級ステーキ店やファインレストランのシェフ経験を経ての就任だ。肉を焼くのに微妙な温度や焼き加減の繊細さのテクニックと自家製の“ 発酵ホットソース” は定評を得ている。

この日の和牛メニューはA5 Satsuma,A5 Ono, A5 Kobe, A5 Takamori などで、メインメニューには和牛以外も40day dry aged prime AngusPorterhouse, ribeye($110~130)、Kurobuta pork chop($65) も並ぶ。A5和牛の味わいはリッチ、ジューシー、フレーバフル、スモーキー、旨味、濃厚とそれぞれが個性豊かで味わい深い。好みもあるがこの日の一番人気はTakamoriで、甘みが強くバランスが良い。旨味が口いっぱいに広がり長く残る。香ばしいブラウンの焼き加減でナイフを入れると色艶良いピンク色だ。和牛ならでは脂質とタンパク質、ミネラルのバランスが絶妙で、備長炭の強い火によって旨味が凝縮されている。

 「Niku Steakhouse」は、ご当地和牛の知識と進化する技術を駆使した米国唯一の和牛専門ステーキ店だ。



Niku Steakhouse
61 Division Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 829-7817
https://www.nikusteakhouse.com/
Everyday 4:30pm-10:00pm
#NikuSteakhouse #SF #wagyu

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Inspiration creation to drink Sake

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Taste difference of different Sakes certainly originates from labels displaying rice polish or sake categories, but even more it is strongly influenced by the sake making process using koji mold etc or the water quality. That starts from rice selection, rice milling, soak time, steamed rice, koji mold and temperature maintenance, yeast cultivation, pressing, blending, pasteurize etc the list can be endless. By delicately adjusting the way the processes are intertwined, breweries are able to make the sakes they want.

There are many different special names & difficult phrasings in Japanese like "unfiltered sake", "Kimoto (traditional brewing method)", "Yamahai (traditional brewing method)", "Shiboritate (freshly pressed)", but in the first place there would hardly be any consumer that can understand what they mean. Even if they could understand, they wouldn't be able to pass on the taste or aroma, how it goes with food, creating inspiration to drink or motive to the consumers.

Instead, if you were to explain that "It's a Junmai Daiginjo that goes great
with whitefish and holds back the aroma", consumers would understand better. If you were to say "Kimoto Junmai that goes well with meat dishes" or "xxx Junmai goes exceptionally well with grilled fish" etc. would produce motive for consumers to drink.

To increase more sake drinking fans, it is important for breweries to describe inspiration creation to want to drink sake on their menus and labels.



飲むきっかけ作り

日本酒の味の違いは、もちろんラベルに表示されている精米歩合や特定名称からも起因されるが、それより麹造りなどの全体作業(造り)や水質によって大きく影響される。それは、米の選別から始まり、精米方法、浸漬時間、蒸し方、麹造りと温度管理、酵母の培養、絞り、ブレンディング、貯蔵、火入れなど挙げれば切りが無い。これらが微妙に絡み合い調整することにより蔵の造りたい酒が出来てくる。

特定名称や難しい表現「無ろ過生原酒」「生もと造り」「山廃造り」「絞りたて」など色々と日本語でラベルに書かれているが、そもそもこの意味が何を意味しているのかを理解している消費者は、ほとんどいない。たとえ理解したとしても味や香り、食事との相性、飲んでみたいきっかけや動機を消費者に与えていない。

それより、「白身魚との抜群な相性、香りを控えめにした純米大吟醸」とした方が消費者は分かりやすい。「肉料理にも合う、生もと純米」、「焼き魚と抜群な相性を持つxxx純米」などとした方が消費者に飲む動機を与える。

日本酒ファンをもっと広げるためには、日本酒を飲んでみたいきっかけ作りをメニューやラベル上で表現することが重要である。



釀製喝酒契機

不言而喻,清酒的味道差異某程度上來自標籤上顯示的精米步合(經處理後的白米與原料玄米的比重)和特別名稱等;但誘發更大影響的會是製麹等的整體製作程序,水質等。製作程序是由挑選米、精米(玄米處理)手法、浸泡時間、蒸煮方法、製麹和溫度管理、培養酵母、壓榨、混合、保存、高溫殺菌等數之不盡的工序所組成。通過絕妙地調整各工序,酒藏可以製作出其所想製作的酒。

雖然標籤上寫有許多特別名稱或艱澀用語如「無過濾生原酒(指沒有經過任何後期加工,於壓榨後直接裝瓶的酒)」、「生酛(手製酵母)造酒」、「山廢(略過山卸工序)造酒」、「鮮榨」等;但事實上卻只有為數極少的消費者了解上述用語的意義。再者,即使理解箇中意味,亦無法因此令消費者理解其香味、味道、與料理的襯托程度;更不能帶給消費者嘗試該酒的契機或動力。

相反,如以「與白魚極為配襯,香味清淡的純米大吟釀」等方法說明,會更易令消費者明白。而「亦與肉類料理配襯的生酛純米酒」,「與燒魚極為配襯的XXX純米酒」等表達手法,能賦予消費者嘗試的契機。

為進一步增加清酒愛好者的數量,在選單或標籤上創造出「想喝清酒的契機」極為重要。



마실 기회 만들기

일본 술은 라벨에 표시된 정미 비율과 특정 명칭에 따라 맛에 차이가 납니다. 하지만 누룩 만들기 등 전체 작업(만들기)과 물의 질에 따라 크게 영향을 받습니다. 쌀의 선별부터 정미 방법, 침지 시간, 증류 방법, 누룩 만들기와 온도 관리, 효모 배양, 짜기, 브랜딩, 저장, 불의 세기 등 차이를 만드는 요소는 셀 수 없을 정도로 많습니다. 이런 요소가 미묘하게 서로 얽히고 적절하게 섞여 원하는 술이 만들어집니다.

‘무로카나마겐슈’, ‘기모토즈쿠리’, 야마하이즈쿠리’, ‘시보리다테’ 등 특정 명칭과 어려운 표현으로 다양하게 일본어 라벨에 표시하지만, 애당초 그 의미가 무엇을 의미하는지 이해하는 소비자는 거의 없습니다. 예를 들어 이해한다고 해도 맛과 향, 식사와의 조합을 다 알 수 없고, 마시고 싶은 계기와 동기를 소비자에게 부여하지도 않습니다.

이것보다는 ‘흰 살 생선과 최고의 조합, 향을 줄인 준마이 다이긴죠’라고 표시하는 편이 소비자가 더 알기 쉽습니다. ‘육류 요리와도 잘 어울리는 기모토 준마이’, ‘구운 생선과 찰떡 궁합인 XXX 준마이’ 등으로 표현하는 것이 소비자에게 마시고 싶은 동기를 부여합니다.

일본 술이 더욱더 많은 사람에게 사랑받기 위해서는 일본 술을 마시고 싶도록 메뉴와 라벨에 표현하는 것이 중요합니다.
#sake #inspiration

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Pepper Lunch: Excited and mesmerized by the food grilled right in front of you! Fast food steak house, “Pepper Lunch”

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By Aya Ota

A steak specialty fast food franchise, “Pepper Lunch”,opened its first New York location on March 21 of this year, and is drawing a lot of attention because the second location opened on July 3, already only 3 and a half months later.

At “Pepper Lunch”,, you order and pay first, and sit down at a table, and wait. Then, a sizzling hot iron plate arrives, and you, the customer, cooks your steak by yourself.

Not only can you cook your steak to your favorite doneness, but you canalso make it to suit your taste by adding their original steak sauce and toppings. Popularity was spurred by the fact that you can have good quality steak at a reasonable cost, and they have so far developed 470 locations in 16 countries worldwide (136 in Japan).

“Pepper Food Services Co., Ltd.” (“Kuni’s Corporation” in US), whichruns this restaurant chain, opened their first location in the US in February of 2017. They brought “Ikinari Steak”, their super popular chain in Japan known for its unique style of selling by weight, and having you eat standing up, on top of low pricing, to the East Village District of New York, and became the topic of conversation. Only within 2 years, they expanded their business to 11 locations in New York. In October of 2018, they got listed on NASDAQ as the first restaurant business from Japan. However, due to the later slow-down of the achievement, they were forced to make a big change in their business strategy, and closed 7 locations this year. They also made an announcement to withdraw from NASDAQ this fall.

Kunio Ichinose, Founder & CEO admits humbly; “Back then, I was stuck with the idea of replicating the Japanese way. I had no fear and was reckless. What to serve by how much and to whom? I was wrong about this from the start of our coming to the US,” he continues. Here in the States, steak is a luxurious and special food. The quality and taste of what we offered was well accepted, but low pricing and stand-up eating style did not go well.

Moreover, due to the facts such as the hasty increase of locations, and having a no-tipping system caused hardship in hiring and educating of the staff, which eventually led to compromising in the quality of the service. And this time, as the result of the big trajectory correction, they will concentrate on enhancing the brand power by continuing to run “Ikinari Steak” at 2 out of the 4 remaining locations, and develop “Pepper Lunch” at the other 2 locations because this model has a good record in developing overseas.

Overseas development of “Pepper Lunch” started 14 or 15 years ago in Singapore. They went to Australia next, and kept progressing differently from Japan in creating menus and developing styles according to the local needs. In 2018, they opened 2 locations in LA. They are developing this New York locations by bringing in a lot of these other overseas successful experiences from the past.

Their signature dish is the “Pepper Rice”, in which steak and rice is cooked together like fried rice. Since the opening of the first New York location, they have been quickly taking note of customers’ preferences, and started to serve variations with seafood such as shrimp and salmon. In addition to the steadily-desired steaks, they have added dishes combined with a hamburger patty and curry, which are not often found in the US. They also added combo dishes to the menu such as a 2 different kinds of steak combo, and combination dishes with a hamburger patty on the menu. They use only top 36% quality USDA certified Angus beef. Cup-sake is also offered, and is well accepted. They are steadily increasing fans by excitement and the heightened emotions that the customers feel from eating self-cooked food with lively noise and aroma.

They are planning to open another franchise restaurant in Las Vegas by the end of this year. Mr. Ichinose’s ambition “to spread casual steak culture, in which you eat steak regularly, and Japanese steak to all over the US” is unstoppable.


目の前で焼き上げる興奮と感動 ファストフード・ステーキハウス『ペッパーランチ』

ステーキ専門のファストフード・チェーン『ペッパーランチ』が、今年3月21日にニューヨーク初上陸を果たし、そのわずか3カ月半後の7月3日に2号店を開店し、注目されている。

同店では、来店後まず注文・会計を済ませ、テーブルに着席し待っていると、熱々の鉄板が運ばれてきて、客自らステーキを焼き上げるというスタイル。好みの焼き加減に仕上げられるだけでなく、同店オリジナルのステーキソースや追加トッピングを加え、好みの味付けに調えることができる。上質のステーキ肉を安価に食べられることも人気に拍車をかけ、現在では、世界16カ国に約470店舗(うち日本国内136店舗)を展開している。

同チェーンを運営する『株式会社ペッパーフードサービス』(米国法人『Kuni’s Corporation』)の米国初進出は2017年2月のこと。量り売りしたステーキを立ち食いするという独自性と低価格がウリで日本国内でも圧倒的な人気を誇る『いきなり!ステーキ』を、ニューヨークのイーストヴィレッジ地区に開店し話題となった。その後わずか2年でニューヨーク市内に11店舗まで拡大。2018年10月には、日本の外食産業では初となるナスダック上場も果たした。しかし、その後の業績不振により、大幅な戦略変更を強いられ、今年に入って7店舗を閉店したほか、今秋にはナスダック上場廃止することも発表した。

「当時は、日本でのやり方を再現することに固執していた。怖いもの知らずで無謀だった」と潔く語るのは、創業者で代表取締役社⻑の⼀瀬邦夫氏。「誰に何をいくらで提供するのか。米国進出では、この点を最初から間違えてしまった」と続ける。本場・米国では、ステーキは贅沢で特別な料理。同店が提供するステーキの品質や美味しさは高く評価されたものの、低価格や立ち食いといったコンセプトが浸透しなかった。また急速に店舗拡大したことやチップ制を導入しなかったことで、従業員採用や育成に苦戦し、サービスの質低下を招いてしまった。そして、今回、大幅な軌道修正を図った結果、残した4店舗のうち2店舗で『いきなり!ステーキ』継続しブランド力を高めることに注力し、もう2店舗では海外での出店実績が豊富にある『ペッパーランチ』を展開する。

『ペッパーランチ』の海外進出は14〜15年前、シンガポールが最初だった。その後、オーストラリアへ拡大し、現地ニーズに合わせてメニューや運営面も、日本とは違う発展を遂げていった。2018年にはロサンゼルスにも2店舗開店。ニューヨークの新店舗では、これら海外での成功事例を大いに取り入れた展開となっている。

同店を代表するメニューは、ステーキ肉とご飯を炒飯のように焼き上げる「ペッパーライス」だが、ニューヨーク1号店の開店以降、客の要望を迅速に吸い上げ、海老やサーモンなど魚介類を取り入れたペッパーライスも開始した。また、安定需要があるステーキに加え、米国ではあまり見かけないハンバーグやカレーを組み合わせたメニューも追加した。さらにはステーキ2種類や、ステーキとハンバーグの組み合わせなど、コンボメニューも加えた。牛肉は、USDA認定アンガス牛のうち、トップ36%の品質のみ採用している。カップ酒も提供し、評判は上々だ。客自ら、ジュージューと音や香りを立てながら調理して食べる興奮や感動で、着々とファンを増やしている。

年内にはラスベガスにフランチャイズ店を開店予定だ。「日常的にステーキを食べるカジュアル・ステーキ文化、ジャパニーズ・ステーキを米国に広めたい」という一瀬氏の野望はとどまることがない。



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