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The Onigiri boom arrives in the Bay Area of San Francisco!

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The Onigiri boom arrives in th... The Onigiri boom arrives in th... The Onigiri boom arrives in th... The Onigiri boom arrives in th... The Onigiri boom arrives in th... The Onigiri boom arrives in th... The Onigiri boom arrives in th...
By Elli Sekine

Data for Japan’s convenience stores say that 6 billion onigiris (rice balls) are sold each year. A major convenience store chain, Seven Eleven, for instance, sells about 4 million onigiris every day. The number of onigiris consumed every day should be enormous if you include sales at supermarkets and bento specialty establishments. A young group of people were making a plan to launch a franchise business in North America with onigiris, a Japanese daily food, in 2007.

I had been to one of their onigiri sampling events back then before this business started. In those days, onigiris were not sold anywhere except in a few Japanese markets. Sushi had already gained overwhelming popularity in the San Francisco area, and onigiris were also considered to be sushi. In other words, people used to think that rice + seaweed = sushi. In those days, most of them thought that it would be too difficult to market onigiris as a product, due to such poor recognition among the people. However, the three entrepreneurs made a passionate presentation at La Cocina, the organization to support immigrant women’s food businesses in San Francisco, despite the gender gap being men, and seized the opportunity to be supported by them. They launched “Onigilly”, operated in outdoor tents for a while, and then opened an independent store. They are on the right track, successfully increasing the number of the establishments, and heading towards a typical success story.

Currently, in San Francisco, the onigiri boom has arrived. In San Francisco, where commodity prices are going up all the time, onigiris are a good value. They are inexpensive, healthy, and delicious. People rush to buy them in large numbers.

The demand for them is expanding, and not just sold at onigiri shops now. They are now also delivered to IT industry lunches as catering, as boxed lunches for meetings, Uber Eats, etc. Unlike sushi, onigiris are easier to handle because they are not raw. The recipes are simple, and anybody can make them. Each piece is completed, so the quantity can be easily calculated by the number of pieces. For busy one-handed eaters of today, onigiris help them save eating time, and health-conscious people look to them as a superfood for gluten-free or vegan diets.

Presently, there are 5 “Onigilly” restaurants. It has been 6 years since the first opening, and the menu has been evolved yearly. They have expanded the variety, and depending on the size of each restaurant, they are offering other things besides onigiris such as rice bowls which you can add toppings of your choice, zousui (rice porridge), a noodle soup, a tofu noodle salad, etc. The onigiri boom has already spread to NY, LA, etc., and onigiri menus are diversified from high-end to fast-food. Zousui and chazuke are appearing on menus as well.

“Samovar”, a health-conscious restaurant + café in San Francisco, which took the world by storm 10 years ago, opened another restaurant at SFO (San Francisco Airport), which is known as the most gourmet airport, last year.

There are currently 5 “Samovar”s in the Bay Area, and each of them offers slightly different designs and menus. Their SFO location is run by a different team of people than its founders. The “Operator Tastes on the Fly” has invested an enormous capital of $4.1 billion to run the SFO location. They operate as a tea café of San Francisco, at New York, Denver airports, and neighboring high-end hotels, where other local popular restaurants have been selected also.

“Samovar Tea Lounge SFO” ‘s sophisticated exterior and interior are extraordinary. A high-class tea bar, a full bar, and a dining space are set up, and all the menu items are healthy. You can enjoy your meal in a big oasis-like space in the airport. Its rice menu contains smoked duck porridge ($14.5), hojicha ochazuke ($14.50), and salmon egg bowl ($14.50), and you can also add a half-boiled egg or a soup on the side. It is a precious airport gourmet place where you can have a comforting meal before your departure, or upon your arrival.

Mr. Koji Kanematsu, the founder of “Onigilly” has said at the first year, “I want to aim for an onigiri chain that will expand to 500 locations nationwide.” People who were there were laughing at him behind his back then, but this big dream of his does not seem impossible now. The “Onigilly” chain is surely increasing the number of its restaurants, and onigiris are appearing more and more on the menus of many restaurants and fast-food establishments. Nobody calls onigiris sushi anymore. It does not seem long before this dream of the team of Japanese entrepreneurs who have been running towards it the last 10 years, will be realized.


サンフランシスコ・ベイエリアにおにぎりブーム到来!

日本のコンビニエンスストアではオニギリは年間60 億個売れているというデータがある。大手コンビニのセブンイレブンをとっても1 日に約400 万個という消費量だ。これにスーパーやお弁当屋などを入れると驚異的な数字になるだろう。

そんな日本の日常食、おにぎりのチェーン店を北米で展開しようと若いグループが2007 年に起業を構想していた。筆者は当時起業する前のおにぎり試食会に出かけている。当時、寿司が圧倒的な人気を得ていたサンフランシスコでは出回っていなかった。寿司が圧倒的な人気を得ていたサンフランシスコでは、おにぎりも寿司と呼ばれていた。要するにご飯+海苔=寿司という認識だった。

そんな中、おにぎりを商品化するのは厳しいのではないかという意見がほとんどだった。しかし3 人の起業家たちは、サンフランシスコで移民女性達のフードビジネスを支援するLa Cocina で男性でありながら、熱いプレゼンをし、ビジネス支援のチャンスを掴みとった。その後「Onigilly」を起業、テント販売を経て独立店舗をオープン、店舗数を増やすといったサクセスストーリーのレールに乗っている。

今、サンフランシスコでおにぎりブームが到来している。物価が高騰するサンフランシスコで、おにぎりの価値は、安くて健康的、しかも美味しいという理由で消費者が急増している。おにぎりカフェ(店頭)だけではなく、需要が広がっているのは、IT企業へのランチケータリング、そして会議のお弁当、ウーバーイートなどのデリバリーなど。おにぎりは寿司と違い、生では無いので扱いやすい、シンプルなレシピで誰でも扱える。

また、ひとつづつ完結しているので、量はその個数で計算される。何と言っても忙しい「ワンハンド」イーターにとっては食事の時短ができ、健康志向者にとってはグルテンフリー、ベーガンダイエットにも適用されるスーパーフードとしても着目されている。

現在、「Onigilly」は、ベイエリアに5店舗を構える。最初の店舗オープンから6 年経ち、メニューも年々進化している。最近ではオニギリに加えて、好きなものをトッピングに加えていくライスボール(Rice Bowl)、雑炊、ヌードルスープ、豆腐ヌードルサラダなど、店舗の広さによりメニューは異なるが、バラエティーに富んだ内容だ。おにぎりブームはすでにNY、LAなどにも広がり、おにぎりメニューは日本食レストラン以外のハイエンドからファーストフードまで多様化し、メニューも雑炊(粥)や茶漬けなどがメニューに登場し始めている。

サンフランシスコのティーカフェで10 年前に一世風靡したヘルシー系レストラン+カフェの「Samovar」は去年、全米で最もグルメなエアポートと言われるSFO(サンフランシスコ空港)にオープンした。「Samovar」は現在ベイエリアに5店舗を構えるが、店舗によりデザインやメニューが多少異なる。SFO店は創業者とは別チームで、Operator Tastes on the Fly が$4.1 ビリオンという巨額資金を投じてオペレーションを行い、サンフランシスコからニューヨーク、デンバー空港、隣接するハイエンドホテルのティーカフェとして参入する。いずれも地元の人気店が選ばれている。

 「Samovar Tea Lounge SFO」は、洗練された外観、インテリアは異彩を放っている。高級なティーバー、フルバー、ダイニングが設置され、食事メニューは全て健康食。空港のオアシスとも言うべき広々としたスペースでは落ち着いて食事ができる。ご飯メニューには、スモークダック($14.50)のお粥、焙じ茶のお茶漬け($14.50)、サーモンエッグボウル($14.50)がベースで、オプションで半熟卵やスープをサイドでつけることもできる。出国、帰国の際に癒しの食事ができる貴重なエアポートグルメだ。

 「Onigilly」の創業者、金松こうじ氏は起業元年に「全米500 店舗を展開するおにぎりチェーン店を目指したい」と語った。同席していたものは鼻で笑っていたが、その夢は満更でもない。「Onigilly」は確実に店舗数を増やし、オニギリメニューは多くのレストランからファーストフード店まで拡散している。今やオニギリを寿司と呼ぶ人はいなくなった。

カート一つから夢を実現させようとこの10 年走り続けた日本人起業家達の夢が叶う日もそう遠くなさそうだ。



Onigilly (Newly opend)
164 University Ave.
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 313-2104
http://www.onigilly.com/
Mon.-Sun. 11:00am-9:00pm

Samovar Tea Lounge(Newly opend)
International Terminal A
San Francisco
(650) 821-8949
https://www.samovartea.com
7:00am-8:00 pm
#alljapannews #SF #oinigiri #onigilly #Japanese

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A “Japan-quality” matcha café opens in San Francisco

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A “Japan-qualit... A “Japan-qualit... A “Japan-qualit... A “Japan-qualit... A “Japan-qualit... A “Japan-qualit... A “Japan-qualit... A “Japan-qualit...
By Elli Sekine

In the Mission District of San Francisco, which is known as the base of cutting-edge food and beverages, start-up entrepreneurs and invested money of Silicon Valley always link together, and new restaurants and cafes have been opening one after another. This is also the place where much-talked-about food and beverages such as the third wave of coffee, the third wave of chocolate, and Tartine Bakery started. One day, this May, the “Stonemill Matcha” cafe opened for the first time ever in the world by a Japanese entrepreneur.

There, a brand-new type of highest quality matcha and Japan-originated dessert-making techniques are united.

This café is the succession of a restaurant bar, “Bar Tartine”, which was the second establishment of “Tartine”, the very popular bakery in SF. Ever since its opening was announced, this cafe has attracted a great deal of attention from the food and drink industry. Many people had huge expectations due to the brand-image left from the former popular place. However, its opening reception day turned out to be the day everybody had to admit its excellent quality which was beyond expectations. In the past year, matcha serving cafes have become a big hit in San Francisco. But, most of those cafes specialize in sweets such as ice cream. On the other hand, a store that specializes in serving infused matcha called “Samovar Tea Bar” which opened 3 years ago in the same Mission District, has also become hugely popular. Yet, the Japanese tea has only been a small part of the tea culture scene along with other teas such as Chinese tea and Western tea. “Stonemill Matcha”, however, is a matcha specialty store by Japanese.

Mr. Eijiro Tsukada, Founder/CEO of “Stonemill Matcha Inc.” is the mastermind behind it. He mastered in the study of tea in Kyoto, studied international businesses in both Japan and the US, and then founded this company. He said about its opening: “I aimed for an ultimate matcha business that no one in this world has accomplished yet.” A matcha business, which can be called the compilation of such idea, opened stately in the Mission District, invested by multiple corporations including Japanese companies. “Matcha has been recognized in the US, but mainly in the form of soft serve ice cream, etc., and people might have thought that it would be difficult to infuse and serve properly at home. I am hoping that this café will be the trigger for Americans to know more variations of matcha, and enjoy it easily at home,” Mr. Tsukada said. He also said that he wants to keep informing the nutrients and health benefits of matcha intently. Looking at the attractive and unique menus makes you want to try everything on them.

The spacious interior space, where tradition and modernism unite, is decorated with Japanese old house–themed decorations throughout, which provide warm tones using high quality wooden materials, and bring out a classy and relaxing ambience. The ceramic dishes used are hand-made originals by a local artist, and are effective in providing stylish tea time experiences. In the back, a real stone mill, symbolic to “Stonemill Matcha”, is displayed, and represents the deep Japanese food culture.

The tea menu includes only the Japanese tea using tea leaves from Kyoto’s tea farmers/producers. The menu consists of a wide variety of tea. Besides matcha, it includes sencha, hoji-cha, etc. The most popular drinks are Matcha Latte ($5), Ginger Matcha Latte ($5.50), and Cold Brew ($4.50). You can have latte drinks either hot or cold. There is even a unique drink called “Matcha Spritzer”, in which matcha and carbonated water are mixed together. You can also get advice from knowledgeable staff members as to how to infuse Japanese tea correctly, and the installed cutting-edge tea infusion machine produces tea with the best possible temperature and in the best possible steamed state for serving. The desserts and light meals menus are also richly varied, and contain pastries, cream puffs, and Japan-quality original cakes that are made by a collaboration with Tartine. Among them, matcha croissants and roll cakes are especially popular. On the light meals menu, there are cutlet sandwiches ($14), chicken okayu (rice gruel) ($13), matcha chazuke ($16), etc., and the cutlet sandwiches seem to have captured the American appetite particularly among them.

Knowledge and spirit of matcha have been thrown in throughout this place, in the menus, the way the place has been constructed, and even in the services. There is also even an authentic tea ceremony room, where they plan to have regular workshops and tea ceremonies in the future. Mr. Tsukada expressed his desire passionately to spread this business model from San Francisco to all over the US. “Stonemill Matcha” is already well supported by the Mission District foodies, and branding has been successfull. The “Matcha life” looks very much likely to permeate into their lifestyle soon.


“ジャパンクオリティー”抹茶カフェがサンフランシスコにオープン!!

先端の飲食発信基地として知られるミッション地区では、飲食起業家のアイディアと投資マネーが連携し、次々と新しいレストランやカフェを創出している。サードウェーブコーヒーやスモールバッチチョコレート、オーガニックべーカリーなどの話題の飲食もここが発祥の地。先日5 月、日本人起業家による福寿園の抹茶を使った最先端の抹茶カフェ、「Stonemill Matcha」がオープンした。

 SFで一番人気のべーカリー、「Tartine」系列のレストラン、「BarTartine」 の後継となる同店は、オープンの告知がされて以来、飲食業界から多大な注目を集めていた。元人気店に残されたブランドイメージに期待する声は多い。しかしその期待以上に、先日行われたオープニングレセプションでは、誰もがその品質の高さを認めた日となった。

SF ではこの一年、「抹茶」カフェが大流行中。しかしそのほとんどはアイスクーム店などのスイーツが中心となっている。一方、抹茶を煎じて飲ませる店として3 年前に同じくミッション地区にオープンしたお茶専門店の「Samovar TeaBar」が大人気店となったが、日本茶の存在は中国茶や西洋茶と並ぶ一部としてでしかなかった。「Stonemill Matcha」は、“ジャパンクオリティー”の抹茶専門店だ。

仕掛け人は、Stonemill Matcha Inc.の創業者でCEO の塚田英次郎氏。同氏は 京都で茶学を習得し、某大手企業に勤めながら京都で茶学を習得し、国際ビジネスを日本とアメリカで学び、この度同社を立上げた。今回のオープンについて、「世界でまだ誰もがやってない究極の抹茶ビジネスを目指しました」と同氏。その集大成といえる抹茶ビジネスは、日本企業を含む複数の企業からの投資を受け、ミッション地区に堂々のオープンを果たした。「抹茶は今までアメリカで認知されていましたが主にソフトクリームなどで、家庭で煎じるのは難しいという先入観があったと思います。カフェのオープンが、もっとアメリカ人が抹茶のバリエーションを知り、気軽に家庭で楽めるきっかけになれば良いと思います」と塚田氏は、抹茶に含まれる栄養素や健康的な面も強調していきたいと語る。そのメニューを見れば誰もが試してみたくなるユニークで魅力的な内容だ。

伝統とモダンが融合する広い店内は、上質な木材を使った暖かいトーンに京都の古民家をイメージした和テイストの装飾が散りばめられ、上品で落ち着いた雰囲気を醸し出している。使用する陶器は、地元作家による手作り感溢れるオリジナルで、おしゃれなティータイムが楽しめる。奥には「Stonemill Matcha」のシンボルとなる石臼の展示が奥深い日本の食文化をアピールしている。

お茶メニューは、福寿園の茶葉を使用。抹茶の他に煎茶、ほうじ茶などバリエーション豊富。人気ドリンクは抹茶ラテ($5.00)、ジンジャー抹茶ラテ($5.50)、コールドブリュー($4.50)で、ラテはホット、アイスを選べる。中には「抹茶スピリッツア」など抹茶と炭酸をミクスしたユニークなドリンクも揃う。また、十分な知識を持ったスタッフが日本茶の正しい煎れ方と美味しい飲み方などのアドバイスをくれたり、先端の茶抽出機を導入し、温度調整や蒸しもベストな状態で出てくる。また、ペストリーとデザートメニューは、Tartine とのコラボしたペストリー、クリームパフ、オリジナルケーキ類など種類豊富で、特に抹茶クロワッサン、ロールケーキが人気。軽食メニューには、カツサンド($14)、チキンおかゆ($13)、抹茶茶漬け($16)などが揃い、その中でもカツサンドはすでにアメリカ人の胃袋を掴んでいるようだ。

同店は、店づくりからサービスに至るまで抹茶の知識とスピリットが投入されている。さらには本格的なお茶室も完備し、定期的にワークショップやティーセレモニーも行う予定だ。今後の展開について塚田氏は、このビジネスモデルSF から全米へ、やがて世界へと発信していきたいと意気込みを表した。すでに「Stonemill Matcha」は、フーディーなミッションの地元客に支持され、抹茶がライフスタイルに溶け込みそうな勢いだ。



Stonemill Matcha
561 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
https://stonemillmatcha.com/
8:00am-6:00pm
7days open
#alljapannews #matcha #cafe #SF #dessert #okayu #Japan #quality #StonemillMatcha

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Tsukiji-brand high-end donburi to go

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Tsukiji-brand high-end donburi... Tsukiji-brand high-end donburi... Tsukiji-brand high-end donburi... Tsukiji-brand high-end donburi... Tsukiji-brand high-end donburi... Tsukiji-brand high-end donburi... Tsukiji-brand high-end donburi... Tsukiji-brand high-end donburi...
By Elli Sekine

The SOMA District, located in the south of San Francisco’s financial district, has been having a construction rush in the past 10 years, and high-rise buildings are being built one after another. Most of the new tenants of those new buildings are IT or finance-related business people. Especially growing lately are IT related startup businesses. During the lunch hours, the district is filled with those IT people who go have lunch, and in the evening, a younger generation of IT engineers with their laptops in their backpacks start to flow out toward the nearby train stations. On 2nd Street which is the center point of those stations, many eateries that mainly sell quick to-go lunch items stand. The key phrase is “Time saver”. Some newer places are even using high technologies fully to achieve no-man cafes. Among those, there is one gaining popularity with its high-end poppy-designed sushi donburis to attract young people. It is “The Grubbies”.

When I was walking down the street of business offices, a very noticeable and stylish sign that says “Tsukiji no Donburimono” in Japanese caught my eyes, and I stopped in front of it. Americans probably don’t know what the sign says. Under the Japanese words, it says “The Grubbies” in small letters, which appears to be the name of the restaurant. Its nostalgic, yet poppy appearance was appealing to me, and I peeked inside. There were no tables, but a small counter space in a pathway where even one person can barely walk through. It is so small that maximum of 4 people can barely fit. Everyone who bought bento there comes out carrying a stylish furoshiki wrapping. This is a brand-new style to-go sushi bento specialty store. The menu items with photographs are shown under the sign. The quality and the price are like those of a high-end sushi restaurant. The signature bento “Chef’s Choice” (9 to 10 kinds of sashimi slices + sushi rice, miso soup, and seaweed) is $35, Uni donburi ($40~), Mini hotate donburi with scallops and salmon eggs from Hokkaido ($23), Toro donburi ($28), etc., are far from ordinary bento level. I asked what kind of people would buy those. They said that they make a daily limit of 50 meals, which sell out every day. Surprisingly, I heard that the most of them are sold during lunch hours. I assume that the aimed customers are IT people, and if so, it is understandable that the Tsukiji brand sushi donburi can be so popular, and those high prices acceptable.

The IT bubbling trend in Silicon Valley is directly attacking San Francisco. Ever-growing IT-related businesses in the Financial District are making maximum efforts in lunch services in order to motivate employees, and for better work efficiency. In the early stage of the startup businesses, the companies would give to a small number then, and unexpendable employees extra money for lunch and/or dinner, and when the number of employees grow to be more than 100, or even 200, many of those companies will start facilitating them with a nice cafeteria, or offer catering service for lunch and snack times. For the IT industry, which requires speedy growth, saving time for lunch is a must, and a good menu is a necessary tool to satisfy employees.

Who triggered this business is also a startup team of people of the young generation. They created a platform from where people can easily order sushi through an application, and pick it up quickly. Moreover, they use poppy illustrations and high-end images for the place to attract IT people. Additionally, there is an advantage as for the business structure. Because of the nature of its cuisine style, which is raw, and not cooked with fire, it does not require a big kitchen space to function, and relatively easy to apply as a restaurant space. What’s more important is where to get fish from, and how to get staff who can handle fish. They get fresh fish daily from Tsukiji and local markets alternately. In the day time, they also cater to business offices.

Well, how about the value? Unwrapping the fancy furoshiki reveals a pack of the main sashimi selection, colorfully and nicely laid out in a thin square wooden box.

In addition, a set with sushi rice, miso soup, and nori appears. It looks beautiful and gets you excited. However, the sashimi pieces are on vegetables, so you need to move them onto rice to make a donburi. In the process, you end up rearranging the nicely presented sashimi, and the box of rice is too small to put the entire fish on. You could move them to a third container of yourself (which is big enough), but if you do, it would eliminate its goodness and convenience as a to-go meal. After all, it was not a chirashi donburi I was imagining, and I had to alternately eat sashimi and rice separately. The quality of sashimi was good, but the vegetable underneath was hard and not easy to chew. Personally, I think it is better if the food was served in the form of a pre-arranged bowl.

Most of the regular customers of this place have downloaded the lunch to-go application on their smartphones. Pre-ordering lets them achieve time saving, and proceed with work smoothly. The concept which “The Grubbies” team aimed, and realized, “a new sushi business that nobody has done before, and lunch that is high quality, and no waiting time to acquire”, is very effective in the IT industry. They have become a poppy sushi lunch icon of the SOMA District.


築地ブランドの高級丼ぶりTO GO

サンフランシスコ金融街の南に位置するSOMA地区はこの10 年、建設ラッシュが続き、高層ビルが次々と立ち続けている。新しいビルのテナントに入るのはほとんどがIT、金融関連で、最近特に増えているのがIT 系スタートアップ企業だ。昼間はランチを求めるIT ピープルで賑わい、夕方になるとバックパックにパソコンを入れた若い世代のエンジニアたちが駅に向かって流れ出す。各駅の中間地点となる2nd ストリートには、彼らが利用するサッと持ち帰り食べれるランチをメインとする飲食店が並んでいる。キーワードは時短。中には無人カフェなどテクノロジーを駆使したランチスポットも登場している。

 先日、オフィス街を歩いていた際、一際目立つ「築地の丼物」というスタイリッシュな文字の看板の前で足が止まった。おそらくアメリカ人には何が書いてあるのかはわからない。その下に小さく「The Grubbies」とあるが、どうやらこれが店名のようだ。私はレトロでポップな外観に惹かれ、中を覗いてみた。そこにはテーブルなどはなく、人一人がやっと入れるような通路に小さなカウンターがあるだけ。4 人も入るといっぱいになるような狭さだ。ここから弁当を買って帰る人は皆オシャレな風呂敷包を抱えている。ここは、 オフィスランチで人気を伸ばしている高級寿司丼TOGO 店、「The Grubbies」だ。看板の上には写真付きメニューリストがあるが、そのクオリティと価格は高級寿司屋並み。シグニチャー弁当、「Chef’s Choice」( 9~ 10種類の刺身盛り+鮨飯、味噌汁、海苔付き)は$35、他にウニ丼($40 ~)、北海道産のホタテとイクラのミニ帆立丼($23)トロ丼($28)など、もはや弁当の域を超えている。いったいどんな人が買うのだろうと尋ねると、限定50 食は毎日完売しているという。そのほとんどはランチタイムで、IT 企業の従業員、出張者向けが多数をしめる。ターゲットがIT ピープルと想定すれば、築地ブランドの寿司丼人気とその価格にも納得がいく。

 シリコンバレーのIT バブルはSF を直撃している。金融街に増え続けるIT 関連会社では、従業員の仕事の意欲と効率性を上げる為、ランチサービスにあらゆる工夫をしている。スタートアップ初期の頃は、まだ少ない貴重な従業員にランチやディナーの補助金を出したり、従業員規模が100 人、200 人と成長すれば必然的にカフェテラスを充実させ、ランチやスナックは専門のマネージャーがケータリングを斡旋する所が多い。スピード成長を求められるIT 企業にとってランチタイムの時短は必須。そしてメニューは従業員を満足させる為に不可欠なツールとなっているようだ。

 このビジネスの仕掛け人は、やはり若い世代のスタートアップチーム。彼らは寿司を気軽にアプリから注文、敏速にランチをTO GO できるプラットフォームを作り、店舗にはポップなイラストや高級イメージでIT ピープル達を惹きつけている。また、ビジネス構築として火を使わない生もの料理なので、キッチンは狭くても機能でき、飲食店としての申請も比較的容易という利点がある。重要なのは仕入れ先と魚を捌くスタッフだ。魚は築地とローカルから日替わりで新鮮なネタを仕入れ、昼間は企業へのケータリングも行っている。

さて、そのバリューはいかに。おしゃれな風呂敷を解けば、四角の薄い木箱に彩りよく並べられたメインの刺身のパック、別に鮨飯のパック、味噌汁、海苔のセットが付いてきた。見た目は綺麗でテンションが上がる。しかし刺身は野菜の上に並べられているので、丼にするには刺身をご飯の方に移す必要があるが、そうすると綺麗に盛られた魚の並びを崩すことになるし、飯の箱は小さいので魚は入りきれない。できれば第3 の容器に移し替えれば良いのだが、そうするとToGo の意味が無くなる。結局、想像していたチラシ丼ではなく、刺身とシャリを交互に食べるしかなかった。刺身のネタの質は良いだが、魚の下に敷いている野菜は硬くて食べづらい。個人的には最初から丼になっていた方が親切という感想だ。
 ここの常連客のほとんどは、スマホにランチtogoアプリを入れている。予め注文する事で時短ができ仕事もスムースに進む。「まだ誰もやったことがない寿司ビジネス。質がよく待ち時間ゼロのランチ」を目指した「The Grubbies」チームの発想は、金融街、SOMA で効果覿面。SOMA地区のポップな寿司ランチのアイコンとなっている。



The Grubbies
Store 1 /303 Sacramento St.
San Francisco, CA 94111
Store 2 / 123 2nd St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 757-0887
https://www.thegrubbiescorp.com/
EZ eater www.ezcater.com/
catering/the-grubbies
Mon.-Fri. 11:00am-1:30pm
5:00pm-7:30pm
Sat. and Sun. closed
#alljapannews #tsukiji #donburi #SF #Grubbies #Sacramento #Japanese #lunch

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A popular sushi restaurant proudly known for having fresh ingredients sent directly from Tsukiji and Fukuoka

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A popular sushi restaurant pr... A popular sushi restaurant pr... A popular sushi restaurant pr... A popular sushi restaurant pr... A popular sushi restaurant pr... A popular sushi restaurant pr... A popular sushi restaurant pr... A popular sushi restaurant pr...
By Elii sSekine

Hayes Valley, which is known as the place where a gourmet culture started, is also a highly competitive place for the restaurant business. During the recent real estate development, many new condominiums and business buildings have been built, and the area is becoming even more desirable. Many foodies who want to eat out live there, and also some culture/art facilities for performing arts such as symphony orchestra concerts, ballet, Jazz performances, art museums, etc. are in the nearby areas. Restaurants in the area, therefore, need to accommodate to a wide variety of preferences as well. There is only one real authentic sushi restaurant in the area, and that is “Tsubasa”. They have gained many excellent reviews through word of mouth on social media, and have been given a Bib Gourmand rating by the Michelin Guide. They are supported by local sushi lovers for their high-quality a-la-carte, and omakase menus, and the approachability.

The owner, Irene Ouyang, is a Chinese American. She has been a fan of Japanese cuisine for a long time, and was motivated to start and run a Japanese restaurant called “Sushi House” 20 years ago. She later opened “Naked Fish Sushi Grill & Wine Restaurant”, which attracted a younger generation of sushi fans, taking advantage of the pop culture-like sushi boom of that time. Its innovative style, in which a drink bar and sushi are combined, has been copied by many restaurants since, and has become one of the standard styles. Then, 3 years ago, she opened “Tsubasa” on a busy street of Hayes Valley where people are always keeping their eyes on restaurants.

Last summer, the restaurant welcomed Peter Pae as the executive chef, and refreshed the menu. Mr. Pae is a non-Japanese sushi chef, who has 20-years of experience in cooking at Japanese restaurants. He learned the basics of sushi and sushi making techniques from Osamu, the owner of “Sushi Sam”, a popular restaurant which has been leading the sushi boom in San Mateo. He is also carrying over his craftsmanship. He says, “The most important thing about sushi is freshness, and enjoyment of dining is enhanced by having seasonal ingredients.” It is so obvious that such a philosophy is reflected on the menu. He is very particular about the fish he buys, and 90% of it comes directly from Tsukiji and Fukuoka. A wide variety of ingredients and freshness are their selling points.

The menu contains a wide-variety of dishes which include a-la-carte dishes, traditional nigiri sushi, sushi rolls, the original “Fusion Roll”, and options of temaki (hand rolls). The signature items are the “Chef’s Choice”, and “Tsubasa Daily”, for which nearly 30 different kinds of seasonal freshly caught ingredients are described daily. Evening time is mostly filled by reservations, but some walk-ins are accepted on some nights. For lunch time, there are items for quick-eats such as chirashi sushi and negitoro donburi, but they have recently added omakase style dishes on the lunch menu, which are welcomed for business lunches and “Tsubasa” fans. This time, I tried a course meal, and some dishes from the regular menu items. The appetizer, local oysters, were flavored in a Japanese way, and colorfully arranged with momiji oroshi (tinted grated daikon) and green onions, and boosted my appetite. Nicely tender and sweet ankimo (monkfish liver) ($11/each) and Nasu-no Nibitashi (cooked eggplant dish) went very well with Junmai sake. Chawan-mushi (steamed egg custard), a popular dish ($9〜$14) had a slight fragrance of sakura-ebi (tiny dried shrimp), and the fluffy custard made with tasty dashi was bringing out the goodness of rich and creamy uni (sea urchin) from Hokkaido. The main dish, “Special Sashimi” ($80) was colorful, and presented like an art for the decoration of your table. You can easily imagine the freshness of the ingredients by just looking at them, and the skillfully cut pieces and tasteful presentation showcase the craftsmanship well. Well-thought colorful arrangement of that day consisted of fish from Japan, shimaaji, hotate (scallop), inada, kinmedai, kamasu, hotaruika (tiny squids), muki-hotate, etc., and sakura-masu (trout) was decorated and favored with cherry leaves. The nigiri plate looked high class and gorgeous with gold dusted o-toro and zuwai-gani (crab) served with kani-moso (crab brain), which give you the ultimate pleasure of sushi tasting. The menu contains a wide selection of ingredients from standard fish to rare fish from Japan’s nearby seas, which you rarely see at other restaurants, hence can accommodate all sushi eaters from beginners to experts. You can imagine how prominent this place is from serving hon-maguro, because it is supplied to only a limited number of Japanese restaurants.

The restaurant is medium size, having a total of 50 seats. On the left after entering, you see the sushi chef counter, and bar tables, which were filled with many single customers. As for the alcoholic drink selection, Japanese sake brands dominate it. They are sorted by dryness, crispness, and smoothness. Next is wine, beer, and craft beers. Here, the sushi dining that should start with a drink, which Ouyang believes in, matches the eat-out culture spirit of Hayes Valley, and is collecting a lot of sushi fans every day.


築地、福岡直送の新鮮なネタが自慢の人気寿司店

グルメ発信基地としても知られるヘイズバレーはレストランの激選区。最近の再開発で新しいマンションや商業ビルが次々と建ち、益々魅力的な街へと変貌を遂げている。レストランに出かけるフーディーな客が多く、シンフォニーやバレエ、ジャズホール、美術館などの文化芸術施設が隣接するため、店側も多種多様な対応が求められる。その中で唯一の本格的な寿司屋、「Tsubasa Sushi」は、SNS の口コミで常に多くの星の数を獲得し、ミシュランガイドではビブグルマンにも選ばている。アラカルト、オマカセ共に高品質なのに通いやすさが寿司ファンに支持されている。

オーナー、 Eileen Ouyang 氏は中国系アメリカ人。昔からの日本食好きが高じて20 年前にレストラン「Sushi House」の経営を始めた。その後オープンした「Naked Fish Sushi Grill & WineRestaurant」は、当時のポップな寿司ブームに乗り、特に若年層を惹きつけた。ワインを加えドリンクメニューを充実させた画期的なスタイルは、今では多くの店が取り入れ定番となっている。そして3年前、いつも注目を浴びるヘイズバレーのおしゃれで賑やかな通りに「Tsubasa」をオープンした。

去年の夏、エグゼキュティブシェフにPeter Pae 氏を迎えメニューも一新された。Pae 氏は、日本食レストランでの料理人歴20 年になるノンジャパニーズの寿司職人。San Mateoで寿司ブームを牽引して来た人気レストラン、「SushiSam’s」のオーナー、おさむ氏から寿司の基本と技術を伝授され、その職人気質も継承している。「寿司は鮮度が命。そして季節のネタが並ぶ事で、食べる楽しみが一層豊かになる」とPea 氏。その哲学はメニューを見れば一目瞭然だ。毎日仕入れる魚にはこだわりがありその90%近くが日本の築地や福岡からの直輸入。ネタの種類と新鮮さがウリとなっている。

メニューは、一品料理、伝統的な握りとロールにオリジナルの「フュージョンロール」手巻きのオプションが加わるバラエティーな内容。看板は、「Chef’schoice」と30 品目近くの旬のネタが毎日書き換えられる「Tsubasa Daily」だ。

夜は予約客がほとんどだが、日によってはウォークインでも入れる。昼メニューはさっと済ませられるチラシ丼やネギトロ丼物などもあるが、最近「オマカセ」もランチメニューに加わり、ビジネスランチや“Tsubasa ファン” に好評だ。

今回、コースとレギュラーメニューの一部を賞味した。アペタイザーの牡蠣は地元産で和風に味付けし、もみじおろしやグリーンオニオンの彩も良く食欲を唆る。適度な甘さで柔らかいあん肝(各$11) とナスの煮浸しは純米酒との相性も抜群。人気アイテムの茶碗蒸($9 〜$14)は桜えびの匂いがほんのり漂い、良い出汁で仕上げたフルフルなカスタードが北海道産の濃厚でクリーミーな雲丹を引き立てている。メインの「SpecialSashimi」($80) は、色彩豊かでプレゼンテーションがまるでアートの様にテーブルを飾る。ネタの新鮮さは見た目で想像できるが、その切り身とセンス良い盛り付けに職人技が光る。この日は、シマアジ、ホタテ、イナダ、キンメダイ、カマス、ホテルイカ、ムキホタテなど色合い鮮やかで、サクラマスは桜の葉で飾り香り付けをするなど工夫が凝らしてある。

握りは金粉を飾られた大トロと蟹味噌を挟んだズワイ蟹で高級感が漂い寿司の醍醐味がたっぷり味わえる。メニューは定番の寿司から他店ではお目にかかれない日本近海のネタが揃っており、初心者から寿司ツーまでを満足させる内容。また、本鮪の仕入れは日本食レストランの中でも限られているため、同店の盛況ぶりが伺える。

店内は全50席のミディアムサイズ。エントランスを入った左側には寿司シェフカウンター、バーテーブルがあり、個人客も多く見かける。アルコールは日本酒が圧倒的に多く、ドライ、クリスプ、スムーズの口当たり別で表示してある。次いでワイン、ビールを多種揃える。ここでもOuyang 氏がこだわるドリンクから始まる寿司ダイニングがヘイズバレーの外食スピリットにマッチし、毎日大勢の寿司ファンで賑わっている。



Tsubasa Sushi
429 Gough St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 551-9688
http://www.tsubasasf.com/

Tues.-Wed. 5:30pm-10:00pm
Thur. 11:30am-2:00pm
5:30pm-10:00pm.
Fri. 11:30am-2:00pm
5:30pm-10:15pm
Sat. 12:00pm-2:45pm
5:30pm-10:15pm
Sun. 5:30pm-9:30pm
#alljapannews #TsubasaSushi #SF #restaurant #Tsukiji #fukuoka

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New age fusion “IZAKAYA”

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By Elli Sekine

It has been 7 or 8 years since izakaya-style restaurants started to permeate the San Francisco area. Now, they are surely settled in American society, and have become a part of San Francisco’s gourmet culture. However, in the US, the concept of izakaya is more diverse, “having everything from sushi to a-la-carte dishes” to a “high-end kappo style menu”. “Izakaya” traditionally means a “house” for drinking sake, and is a low-key restaurant where small dishes to pair with sake drinks are served. In this US market, however, people probably perceive izakaya as “a Japanese tapas restaurant”, or “a Japanese style bar”.

Regardless of the original meaning, the name “izakaya” is evolving, and becoming a brand, and progressing towards a more high-end eatery.

”Izakaya Hashibiro Kou” which opened in late 2012, is a modern Japanese restaurant in the new age, which has those two elements. Ever since it opened, this place has been maintaining a 4-star ranking in “Yelp” under the Japanese restaurant category. The name means the stork. It is located near San Francisco Japan Town across Geary Street. You cannot say that it is an ideal location, but lately, even a Michelin-starred restaurant, which was built in a large space with a sophisticatedly renovated interior appeared in the area. Due to such changes in the scenery, the area started to attract gourmet eaters. This restaurant is one of such indispensable Japanese restaurants in the city, which has 70 seats and a bar.

Chef Jay Young is from Korea. He was born and raised in Korea. He graduated from a famous culinary school in Korea, majoring in Japanese cuisine. After graduating, Mr. Young worked as a chef in the Japanese restaurants in the Hilton Hotel Seoul, and the Sofitel Ambassador Seoul. In 2012, he was promoted to becoming the opening chef of “Izakaya Kou”, and moved to San Francisco.

His first impression of San Francisco was that it was a very gourmet food-loving society, and open. He said that he learned the joy of food culture in a diverse cultured society. His harmonized polished international food sense and Japanese cuisine are flourishing in this place. His creative high-end dishes, which are beyond Japanese boundaries, and familiar and traditional izakaya menu items offer a very unique combination. The number of menu items which include a-la-carte dishes, sushi, rolls, yakitori, teppan-yaki, donburis, soba, and ramen, is overwelming. Surprisingly, you can even order a chef’s omakase course as a special menu item.

The exterior of the restaurant does not really stand out, but the inside looks very spacious. The tables are laid out with a lot of room in between, and there is a Japanese fire-place room, a tatami room (with a hori-gotatu), and a private room that accommodates up to 8 people. Japanese calligraphy art hung by the entrance that fills up the right side wall, creates a Japanese ambience for the restaurant. There is a small table facing the street, one facing the big kitchen, and one in the private room, etc., and each table creates a different ambience depending on the location. The restaurant can easily accommodate a large group of people, too. The lights are dimmed, and the simple wood-themed interior decorations provide the feel of an old-fashoned private Japanese house.

As far as the menu goes, it looks like a list of rather ordinary a-la-carte dishes, sushi, grilled items, etc. However, each dish is cooked and presented so well that you are convinced of the facts of the chef’s graduation from a famous culinary school, and experiences of working in high-end hotels. For instance, “Gindara Misozuke” ($11) is a dish with a fluffily cooked marinated cod, served on a wooden log plate. The chili sauce, and the daikon garnish is also presented very artfully. In “Hamachi Carpaccio” ($8), a fresh Hamachi is served with crispy cucumber, and accentuated with olive oil, vinegar, chili, mint dressing and herbs. The ingredients for the salads contain organic vegetables from the farmers’ market only. The sophisticated presentations surely heighten the dining spirits.

There is a bar area in addition to the open kitchen. The selection of alcoholic drinks, which is the key to an izakaya, is vast, and contains more than 80 kinds including Japanese sake, shochu, chu-high, beers, and wines. They say that when the bar is full, the meals get promoted. In this restaurant, there is a good balance of demands and provisions as an izakaya. The happy hour is between opening and 7pm. There are only a few other large izakaya-style establishments in San Francisco, which are open until late at night, so this place is accommodating the needs for a wide variety of people from young to businessmen.


新しい時代のフュージョン「IZAKAYA」

サンフランシスコで「Izakaya」スタイルの日本食店が流行し始めてはや10 年近くになるが、最近ではすっかりアメリカ人の間で定着し、サンフランシスコのグルメ文化に溶け込んでいる。しかしその「Izakaya」のテーマは、「寿司から一品までなんでも揃う」からハイエンドの割烹スタイルまで、アメリカならではの多様性がある。

「居酒屋」とは古来、酒を飲む“ 館” で、酒の肴となる小料理を出す大衆向けの店を意味する。しかしここはアメリカ。その由来にはお構いなく「Izakaya」の名前がブランド化しハイエンドへと進化している。

2012 年末にオープンした、「IzakayaHashibiro kou」は、この2つの要素を持つ新しい時代の「モダンジャパニーズ」。オープン以来、「Yelp」の日本食レストランランキングで、四つ星を持続させている。名前はコウノトリの意味。場所はサンフランシスコ日本町からゲーリー通りを渡ったところで、決して良いロケーションとは言えないが、最近周りには広いスペースをおしゃれに改装した話題のミシュラン星レストランも並ぶ。その影響でグルメ客の足が出向くようになった。同店も市内の日本食レストランの中では70 席の客席とバーを持つ貴重な存在だ。

シェフ、ジェイ・ヤング氏は韓国生まれ、韓国育ち。自国のカリナリー名門校を卒業したが、その専門が日本食だった。卒業後、ヤング氏は、ヒルトンホテル・ソウルやソフテル・アンバサダー・ソウルで日本食レストランのシェフを務める。そして2012 年、「Izakaya kou」オープニングシェフとして抜擢されサンフランシスコに移住した。ヤング氏は、サンフランシスコの印象をとてもグルメで開放的。多様な食文化、食習慣の面白さがあると言う。彼の磨き上げた国際的な食感覚と和食の融合がここで花を咲かせている。ジャパニーズの域を超えた創作的なハイエンドなメニューから誰もが知る伝統的な居酒屋メニューとの組み合わせがユニーク。一品料理から寿司、ロール、焼き鳥、鉄板、丼ぶり、蕎麦、ラーメンまで、圧倒的な品数を揃える。さらにはシェフのオマカセコースも特別注文できるという驚きの構成だ。

外側はあまり目立たないが、店内に入るとゆとりのあるテーブルレイアウトと囲炉裏部屋や畳部屋(堀こたつ)の8人まで入れる個室も完備し、広々としている。入口を入ったすぐ右に、壁一面に垂れた書道アートが店の雰囲気を創っている。テーブルの配置は場所によって雰囲気が異なり、通りに面するこじんまりした席と奥には大きな厨房を眺める席、そして個室がある。団体客も余裕で利用できるスペースだ。店内のライトは柔らかで、全体的に木材で統一されたシンプルなインテリアに古民家的な要素を取り入れている。

メニューを見る限りは何処にでもある一品料理と寿司やグリルがずらりと並んでいるが、一皿一皿の料理技術や盛り付けはさすがにカリナリー校出身、ホテルでの経験があるシェフらしい仕上がりだ。例えば「Gindara misozuke」($11)は、マリネードされた鱈をふっくら焼き上げ、それを丸太プレートで出す。チリソースやガーニッシュの大根も芸術的に盛り付けてある。「Hamachi carpaccio」($8) は、新鮮なハマチにキュウリのシャキシャキした食感を加え、オリーブオイルとビネガー、チリ、ミントドレッシングと薬味添えでアクセントをつけてあ
る。また、サラダの野菜は、ファーマーズマーケットからのオーガニック野菜のみ使用したもの。洗練したプレゼンテーションはダイニングスピリットを上げている。

店内にはオープンキッチンとは別にドリンクバーもある。居酒屋の本命となるアルコール類も多種類を揃え、日本酒から焼酎、チュウハイ、ビール、ワインまで80 種類を超える。バーが充実すると食事も進むという、ここでは居酒屋ならではの需要と供給が満たされている。

ハッピーアワーはオープンから7時まで。サンフランシスコ市内には同店のような大規模の居酒屋で深夜まで開いている店が少なかっただけに、若年層からビジネスユーズまで幅広い客のニーズに応えている。



Izakaya Hashibiro Kou
1560 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 441-9294
http://www.izakayakou.com/

Monday Closed
Tues.-Thurs. 5:30pm-12:00am
Fri.-Sat. 5:30pm-1:00am
Sun. 5:30pm-11:00pm
#alljapannews #izakaya #hashibiro #fusion #SF

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A new place that carried over a legendary kappo restaurant tradition

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A new place that carried over... A new place that carried over... A new place that carried over... A new place that carried over... A new place that carried over... A new place that carried over...
By Elli Sekine

During the last half of the nineties in San Francisco, people were enjoying the economic growth, and traditional washoku such as high-end sushi, kappo, and kaiseki-style Japanese cuisine was beginning to gain attention. Corporate businessmen were the main target demographic, and "Kiku of Tokyo" in the Hilton Hotel, and "Kyoya" in the Palace Hotel in downtown where the convention center is located, were enjoying their popularity as the typical restaurants of that type. In the year 2000, the washoku boom entered into the fusion phase, and after 2010, the "Sushi Kaiseki" and "Omakase" era began. Now, such high-end washoku culture has settled in, and non-business people are also acquainted with the culture. Such achievements made by legendary chefs who triggered the washoku boom, are still thriving in San Francisco's restaurant industry, decades later.

In 2008, after "Kiku of Tokyo" closed, Chef Gomi opened the freestanding "Kappou Gomi" in the Richmond District, and entertained us with authentic Japanese cuisine at a reasonable price. Unlike the restaurants in the downtown hotels, there was no feel of a high-end place, private tatami rooms, etc., but Mr. Gomi seized the hearts of business people who used to know him, and of local American regular customers as well. However, finally, in October of last year, the long-lived washoku legendary restaurant in San Francisco came to an end. While everybody was reminiscing and missing the legend, Mr. Son Minh, Mr. Gomi's former favorite disciple during his "Kiku of Tokyo" days, opened "Akira", the only restaurant where his master's teachings have been inherited, and it became a popular topic of conversation.

The owner/chef, Minh was born in Vietnam. The co-owner and wife, Ms. Judy Young, was born in Laos, and came to the US as a refugee in the seventies. They met through a refugees' circle activity, and later got married. They both overcame discriminations and hardships in life. Since graduating from college, Judy has been working as a counselor for poor people and immigrants. On the other hand, Son met his master, Gomi at a washoku restaurant, "Kiku of Tokyo" where he worked as a temp while going to school. Son was working diligently, and got noticed by Chef Gomi, who told him, "If you like to cook, I can teach you how to cook washoku, starting from the basics." After the training was done, he worked as a sous-chef for a while.

After that, he worked at "Hanazen", and "Kiji" as head chef. The mater/disciple relationship between him and Mr. Gomi continued over the next 20 years, and still ongoing even now.

The name "Akira" was also given by the master. The name represents a positive and progressive approach. "Akira", which has been open for one year, is located in a residential area slightly away from Japan Town. "Akira" meets neither conditions for what a successful washoku restaurant should have, a "good location" and a "Japanese chef", but it has gotten off to a good start as if overturning such cliché. The first reason is its price setting.

Minh's transpicuous personality and diligence that shows in his words: "I would like my restaurant to be the kind of place for everyone to be able to have a reasonable meal", seem to be reflected upon how he runs the restaurant. The second reason is its menu structure. It is unbelievable for a restaurant with a mere 38 seats to have such a rich variety of items. Its line-up of popular items from the eighties such as traditional style sunomono, karaage, donburi, tempura, noodles, sashimi etc. can accommodate any customer. The third reason is the service. Every staff member is friendly, and although they are not Japanese, they have the right knowledge, and the omotenashi spirit is embedded into theirs.

While increasing the number of his original menu items, Mr. Minh always maintains traditional items as well. For example, they offer items like Shokado Bento ($17, lunch only), Chawan-mushi ($10), and Matsutake Dobin-mushi, which you don't see anywhere else. He makes dashi delicately as he has been engaging in Japanese cuisine for a long time.The fluffily strained chawan-mushi, dobinmushi with fully extracted shiitake mushrooms' flavor and umami, etc. satisfy the customers who remember "Kiku". The Shokado-Bento is one of their popular joyful lunch choices. It contains plenty of fresh sashimi, and the price is reasonable, and has become a very popular item for the Japanese people who live in a nearby residence community for Japanese Americans. At dinner time, an omakase course ($65) is offered in addition to the a-la-carte dishes. It is a kappou-style washoku course with 7 items including a small bowl of appetizer, sashimi, and fruits.

Lately, in the Bay Area of San Francisco, older Japanese owners/chefs are retiring one after another, closing the restaurants, and the generation is transitioning to non-Japanese chefs. In such a time, I can say that Mr. Minh one of the lucky ones who were able to inherit traditional Japanese cuisine techniques from a craftsman chef. I can see that a new era of washoku culture is beginning to rise at the same time while the good-old days are carried over.


割烹レジェンド店を継承する新レストラン

90年代後半、好景気に沸いていたサンフランシスコでは、寿司なら上ネタ、割烹、懐石料理といった伝統和食が注目を浴び始めていた。そのターゲットとなったのはビジネスマン達で、コンベンションホールがあるダウンタウンに位置するヒルトンホテル内の「キク オブ トウキョウ」、パレスホテル内の「京屋」はその代表店として人気を誇っていた。2000 年になると、和食ブームはフュージョン期を迎え、2010 年代に入ってからは「寿司懐石」や「オマカセ」時代となる。今やハイエンド和食は定着し、ビジネス以外の客も引き込んでいるが、その火付け役となった伝説のシェフ達が残した功績は、時代を超え今でもサンフランシスコレストラン業界に息づいている。

2008 年、「キク オブ トウキョウ」の料理長だった五味シェフは"Kiku" の 閉鎖後、リッチモンド地区に独立店舗「割烹五味」をオープンし、正統派の和食料理がリーズナブルな値段で味わえると話題を集めた。ダウンタウンのホテル内とは異なり、プレミアム感や個室の座敷などはないが、五味氏を知るビジネス客と地元アメリカ人の常連客を掴んでいた。しかしついに去年10 月、長年に及んだSF の和食伝説は幕を閉じた。誰もがその存在を惜しんでいたところ、「キク オ
ブ トウキョウ」時代、五味シェフの愛弟子だったソン・ミン氏が師からの伝授を継承する唯一の店「アキラ」がオープンした。

オーナーシェフのミン 氏はベトナム生まれ、共同オーナーで妻のジュディ・ヤング氏はラオス生まれで、70年代、難民としてアメリカに移住してきた。二人は難民サークルで出会い、やがて結婚をした。お互い差別や生活苦を乗り越え、ジュディは大学を卒業した後、現在まで貧しい人や移民のカンセリングをしている。一方ソン氏は、同時代にアルバイトをした和食レストラン、「キク オブ トウキョウ」で師匠の五味氏と出会った。真面目に働いていたソン氏に「料理が好きなら和食を基本から教えてあげよう」と声がかかった。修行後はスーシェフとして2軒の店を支えた。その後ソン氏は、「花膳」、「キジ」の料理長を勤めている。しかし五味氏との師弟関係は、20 年以上に及ぶ今でも続いている。「アキラ」という店名も師からの授かりもの。明るく漸進的な姿勢を表している。

開店から一年となる「アキラ」は、日本町からは少し離れた住宅街に位置する。成功する和食レストランの法則である「良いロケーション」と「日本人シェフ」のどちらも持ち合わせないが、それを覆すかのように幸先の良いスタートをきっている。その第一条件は価格設定だ。

「誰でもリーズナブルに食事がでる店にしたい」とソン氏の気取らない性格と勤勉さが店作りに反映されているようだ。第2 はメニュー構成にある。メニューの多さは38 席の店の規模からは想像しがたい内容だ。昔ながらの酢の物や唐揚げ、丼、天ぷら、麺類から寿司など人気アイテムの数々が並びどんな客にも対応できる。第3 にはサービスが挙げられる。スタッフは皆フレンドリーで、ノンジャパニーズでありながらも日本食の正しい知識を持ち、おもてなしの精神も継承されている。

ソン氏はオリジナルメニューを増やしながらも、伝統メニューも必ず残している。例には、松花堂弁当($17 ランチのみ)、茶碗蒸し($10)、松茸土瓶蒸しなど他店には見られないアイテムがある。日本食に長年携わったシェフらしく、出汁の取り方は繊細だ。フルフルとした茶碗蒸しのこし方やしいたけの香りと旨味を引き出した土瓶蒸しは"Kiku" を懐かしむ客を喜ばせている。松花堂弁当はランチタイムのお楽しみの一つ。新鮮な刺身も含めた盛りだくさんの内容でお値打ちとあって、近隣の日系施設に住む日本人の人気メニューとなっている。一方、夜はアラカルトの他、オマカセ($65)も提供している。小鉢からお造り、水菓子まで7品目提供する割烹風和食コースだ。

今やサンフランシスコベイエリアでは、往年の日本食オーナーシェフ達が続々リタイヤで店を閉め、ノンジャパニーズの世代へと推移している。そんな中、ソン氏は職人シェフから伝統的な日本食を受け継いだラッキーな一人かも知れない。古き良き時代を追随しながらも新しい和食時代を築き始めている。

Akira
1634 Bush Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 800-8498
http://www.akirasf.com/

Lunch
Mon.-Fri. 11:30am-2:30pm

Dinner
Mon.-Thurs. 5:00pm-10:00pm
Fri.& Sat. 5:00pm-10:30pm
#alljapannews #akira #SF #restaurant #kappo #bento #kaiseki

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Marufuku “Hakata ramen” breaking in to Japan Town of San Francisco

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Marufuku “Hakat... Marufuku “Hakat... Marufuku “Hakat... Marufuku “Hakat... Marufuku “Hakat... Marufuku “Hakat...
By Elli Sekine

A new ramen phenomenon is happening again in San Francisco’s Japan Town, a highly-competitive district for ramen restaurants. Over the last few years, the popularity of “tonkotsu style ramen” has grown even bigger due to the appearance of “Mensho Tokyo,” “Ippudo”, etc. Moreover, a Hakata style ramen specialty restaurant which nobody else had the title for, called “Marufuku” opened there in February of 2017. Hakata style ramen is new to Americans, and it is attracting a lot of attention. Ever since the opening day, people have been forming a long line to taste their soulful bowls of ramen. What is the difference between
“tonkotsu style” and “Hakata style”? There was a record showing that tonkotsu style ramen was born in “Hakata” Fukuoka, the place of origin, in 1941.

It is said that the tonkotsu style ramen began as follows: some noodles were used to be served as the last ingredient of the “Hakata nabe” a chicken stock based hot pot dish. Then, tonkotsu (pork bone based stock) was added to the soup, and Chinese noodles were thrown in the soup to be combined, and form the “tonkotsu ramen.”

Back then, there were no buildings in the Hakata district like now, and ramen which was served at the street carts by the river is the origin of “Hakata ramen.” The soup served then was mostly murky-white and rich, but light tasting tonkotsu-based, and the noodles were the very thin, straight kind, and topped with Hakata benishoga (red ginger shreds). After the war (1945), due to the idea that ramen was for bluecollar workers, the noodles were very thin for quick cooking, and a small amount was served at a time to retain the texture, and more noodles (kaedama) could be ordered to be added to the soup while you eat. This tradition still continues until this day. Now, in Fukuoka’s ramen restaurants, it is very common that you can select your favorite hardness of the noodles from extra hard to extra soft by adjusting the duration of cooking time. Variation of ramen styles such as “Kumamoto ramen”, “Kurume ramen”, etc., have been born in various.

Kyushu areas since, but “Hakata ramen” has been the favorite soul food for the people of Hakata through the ages. Meanwhile, the broth, which used to be so simple, the quality of the noodles, and the toppings have been perfected, but who could imagine that Hakata ramen would become a gourmet food known to the world like now? “Marufuku” which challenges itself at the reproduction of such Hakata style ramen, is a very important restaurant in the Bay Area.

“Marufuku” heavily values “teamwork” to run the restaurant. They have a purpose which is “to offer uncompromising genuine ramen to create a huge boom” in the Bay Area where cutting-edge information transmission is launched, and major IT companies such as Google and Apple have settled in. They built the foundation of the team by hiring someone who has extensive experience in working in the ramen industry, both in Japan and Los Angeles, to become the manager. The restaurant is located on the second floor of the Kinokuniya Building, which is an ideal place. After many trials and errors, the very first Hakata ramen specialty restaurant in San Francisco, “Marufuku” opened in 2017. The Hakata style, which was new to the US, was well received by the local Americans, and “Marufuku” quickly became very successful.

I recommend “HAKATA DX” ($14.99) first. Their proud soup which has been slowly cooked for 20 hours defines its Hakata style taste by the added housemade special sauce. You never get tired of its rich, deep, yet light tasting soup. The volume is perfect, and served in a classy milky-color bowl made by a Japanese craftsman, which gives a nice contrast. The extra-thin straight noodles specially ordered from a local noodle maker, are original and hard to find anywhere else. The noodles mix and match well with the soup.

The Hakata style tradition, kaedama, can be ordered for $2 each, which allows you to enjoy the noodles at their best texture until the end. Rich topping selections include large pork kakuni, flavor enhanced boiled eggs, corn, cloud ears, mushrooms, and Hakata benishoga (red ginger shreds). Other menu items include “Hakata Tonkotsu” ($10.99), “Chicken Paitan” ($10.99), “Chicken Paitan DX” ($14.99), etc. The Paitan ramen dishes are so popular, and about 30% of the customers order them. However, for the multi-cultured San Francisco, they also pay special attention to some customers who do not eat pork for religious reasons. One of the popular toppings, the juicy kakuni, can be ordered separately as an a-la-carte menu item as Kakunidon (bowl) ($7).

The drink menu includes draft beers, shochu, Japanese sake, etc. At night time, more customers drink sake, but the rotation is rather quick. However, you need to be aware that some waiting is inevitable on weekends.

“Marufuku” is striving to make a strong team by raising the motivation of the staff members who have various backgrounds and share this strong belief, that “a strong enough wish can surely be conveyed to our customers, overcoming language or nationality barriers.” I would like to see “local” food cultures spread in the way that this restaurant is doing, which offers ramen that is customized to the local area.


「博多ラーメン」がSF日本町でブレーク中!

ラーメンの激戦区、サンフランシスコ日本町にまた新たなラーメン現象が起こっている。

この2、3 年、「豚骨ラーメン」は「Mensho Tokyo」や「Ippudo」の出現で益々その人気は高まっている。しかし、まだ誰も看板をあげてない博多ラーメン専門店の「Marukufu」が2017 年2 月、日本町に新開店した。アメリカ人にはまだ聞きなれない「Hakata」スタイルは話題を呼び、その新食感を味わおうと、オープン以来、長蛇の列ができている。

「豚骨ラーメン」と「博多ラーメン」の違いは何だろう。発祥の地、「博多」(福岡)の街でとんこつラーメンが生まれたのは1941 年という記録がある。元々は鶏ガラ出汁の「博多鍋」のシメとして登場した麺は、その後豚骨を加えたスープに中華麺と組み合わせたのが「豚骨ラーメン」の始まりと言われている。

当時博多地区には今のようなビル群は無く、川端の屋台で作られていたラーメンが「博多ラーメン」オリジナルだ。白濁色でコクがあるあっさりした豚骨スープが多く、極細麺ストレートに博多紅生姜を加えたのが主な特徴。戦後(1945 〜)、労働者向けの食事だったことから、麺のゆで時間が少ない細麺が使われたが、麺がすぐ伸びてしまうため少量に盛り、替え玉(麺だけ食べている途中に追加する)を注文する習慣が今でも続いている。

今では麺の固さも客の好みに応じて「バリカタ」から「バリヤワ」まで茹で時間を変えるのも福岡のラーメン店では一般的。その後九州各地で豚骨は「熊本ラーメン」や「久留米ラーメン」など何種類にも別れているが、「博多ラーメン」は時代を超え博多っ子に愛され続けた庶民食だ。今ではその素朴だったブロスと麺の質、トッピングも極められ、世界にその名を馳せるグルメ食になるとは誰が想像しただろう。その博多スタイルの再現に挑む「Marufuku」はベイエリアでも貴重な
店だ。

「Marufuku」は、“ チーム” を重視した店作りを実施している。グーグルやアップルなどの大手IT起業が集結し、最先端のグルメ情報発信基地になるベイエリアで、「妥協しない本物のラーメンを提供し、大きなブームを巻き起こしたい」という目的を持ち、日本とトサンゼルスでラーメン修行をした豊富な経験を持つ人材をマネージャーに起用し、チームの枠組を作った。場所は紀伊國屋ビルの2階という絶好の場所。あらゆる試行錯誤を繰り返し2017年、サンフランシスコで初めてとなる「博多ラーメン」専門店、「Marufuku」をオープンした。まだアメカでは新しい博多スタイルは、地元アメリカ人に受け入れられ、開店まもなく繁栄店となった。

メニューの中で一番おすすめは「HAKATA DX」。($14.99)自慢のスープは、20 時間じっくり煮込んだものに、自家製の特性タレが「博多味」を決定付ける。リッチで味わい深いのにあっさりしているので飽きのこない味だ。日本の職人による上品な和噐に白濁色が映え、量も丁度良く盛られている。ローカルの製麺所に特別オーダーして製麺された極細ストレート麺は、他の店ではなかなか味わえないオリジナル。スープとの愛称が良く絡みやすい。博多ラーメンの伝統である替玉も$2で追加することができる為、最後までコシのある麺が味わえる。

トッピングは大きなサイズの豚の角煮、味たまご、コーン、きくらげ、マッシュルームに博多紅生姜などボリュームたっぷりの内容。メニューにはその他、「Hakata Tonkotsu]($10.99), 「ChikenPaitan]($10.99)「Chikin paitan DX」($14.99) などがある。客の約3割が注文しているというパイタンラーメンも人気がある他、多文化社会のサンフランシスコで宗教上豚を食しない客への配慮もある。人気トッピングの一つであるジューシーな角煮は、角煮丼($7)の単品メニューもある。ドリンクメニューには、ドラフトビール、焼酎、日本酒などを揃えている。夜は酒を飲む客も増えるが、比較的回転は早い方だ。しかし週末になると待ち時間は覚悟した方が良い。

「Marufuku」は、「強い想いがあれば、言語や国籍を乗り越え客に伝わる」という信念を持ち、多種多様なバックグラウンドを持つ従業員のモチベーションをあげ、強いチーム作りに務めている。同店のように地方に特化したラーメンを提供する「ご当地グルメ」ブームが広がるのを期待したい。



Marufuku
1581 Webster St. Ste 235
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 872-9786
https://www.marufukuramen.com/

Tue.-Fri. 11:30am-2:00pm
5:30pm-9:30pm
Sat. 11:30am-3:00pm
5:00pm-9:30pm
Sun. 11:30am-3:00pm
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#alljapannews #marufuku #hakata #ramen #tonkotsu #paitan #kakuni #SF

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Fermented foods attract attention due to health-consciousness boom

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By Elli Sekine

“AEDAN”’ tent shop in the Saturday Farmer’s Market held in the very popular Ferry Building in San Francisco, which sells fermented foods such as miso and koji that are not sold at any other shops, is attracting attention. “Miso” and “Koji”, which are the typical products in San Francisco’s unprecedented fermented food boom, have been adapted in menus by America’s top chefs. Lately, you even see the word “Koji” in some restaurant menus. Like setting fire on such a boom, Aedan Fermented Foods, a manufacturer of all hand-made miso and koji-- indispensable ingredients from ancient Japan-- is creating a movement.

The founder, Mariko Gledy, launched this business initially to donate the profit from the sales of hand-made miso to her friends to 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake victims, thinking what she could do to help from the US. “Before that time, I was making miso for my own family. I got an idea of selling it to my friends so I can donate the money from the sales,” says Mariko. She started to make miso at home to inherit a Japanese tradition to her children. “I felt the great power of miso once again when I learned that you can basically survive for a few days with only miso and water.” As she was studying further on miso and koji for the future business opportunity, she felt a strong hope for conveying this wisdom of Japan to as many people as possible, especially to American children who are responsible for the next generation. This hope of her is reflected on the company name, Aedan (wisdom transmission), and has also become the The founder, Mariko Gledy, launched this business initially to donate the profit from the sales of hand-made miso to her friends for the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake victims, thinking of what she could do to help from the US. “Before that time, I was making miso for my own family. I got the idea of selling it to my friends so I can donate the money from the sales,” says Mariko. She started to make miso at home to pass on a Japanese tradition to her children. “I felt the great power of miso once again when I learned that you can basically survive for a few days with only miso and water.” As she was studying further about miso and koji for the future business opportunity, she felt a strong hope for conveying this wisdom of Japan to as many people as possible, especially to American children who are responsible for the next generation. This hope of hers is reflected on the company name, Aedan (wisdom transmission), and has also become the company mission as well.

In the following year, 2012, the company started a full-fledged sales activity by joining an incubation kitchen, “La Cocina”, which supports female and minorities to start businesses. From then on, the variety of merchandise production and the business structure continued to expand by receiving business advice and support from La Concina. The company steadily gained more recognition through catering of cuisines using house-made fermented condiments, and workshops, lectures, etc.

In 2016, she founded an LLC, and in the same year, the company acquired a regular presence in the Saturday Ferry Building Farmer’s Market, which every small business owner in the food industry dreams of. In the tent of the Farmer’s Market, miso soup, amazake ($3 each), and Hakkoh Bento (Fermented lunch box, $15) using miso and koji, etc. are sold in order to let people who do not yet know about miso learn about its attractive benefits. Aedan manufactures and sells 4 kinds of miso, shiokoji, amazake-based marinade called Sagohachi, and amazake, all made with organic soy beans and/or rice ($10 each). They also sell chickpea miso made uniquely with chickpeas instead of soy beans. Their locally-made miso goes through no fermentation-stopping process such as heating, and thus the koji enzyme stays alive, and helps create a deeper taste as it ages. The amazake completed by the Vitamix machine is so smooth, creamy and rich, and gaining popularity for its uniquely profound taste. Not only do they sell, but they also carry out to let people know the delicious ways to eat miso and koji. The Shiokoji kit ($20) that contains mixed raw koji and salt, is popular among travelers because it is easy to carry around under natural temperatures.

Japanese cuisine has well settled into the local scenes lately, and more and more Americans even know what koji or shiokoji are, not to mention what miso is. Helped by such a background, wholesale orders are increasing from long-established San Franciscan grocers such as Rainbow Grocery and Bi-Rite Market, and also from restaurants. The catering menu that includes omelet cooked with amazake, tofu dengaku marinated in shiokoji, koji pickles, etc. is well received, and orders have also increased year after year for its simple yet deep tasting selection of items. Their Washoku Lunch menu which is gentle to your body, is also becoming an important part even for many Americans.

Mariko continues, “My goal is to have everybody make miso at home. Different miso for each family!” In order to achieve this goal of miso making and eating at every household, she is diligently putting efforts in miso making workshops and classes called “Terakoya Aedan”. She is expanding such activities to teach American citizens Japanese traditional food cultures by also having lectures at some museums and health-conscious specialty stores.

The number of fans of Aedan Fermented Foods has grown in the past 6 years due to its diligent efforts in conveying the good benefits of miso and koji. Now Mariko is planning to take a new step. At this point, there is no store fixture, but she is hoping to open a “Miso Café”, which would be a store with a café space.

There, she wants not only to sell miso and koji and serve miso soup and dishes, but also to have a space for miso-making workshops and cooking classes. Such days when you can enjoy body-friendly foods at a San Francisco’s very first fermented foods specialty café may come soon.


健康志向ブームで注目を浴びる発酵食品

サンフランシスコ最大のファーマーズマーケット、フェリープラザの土曜日に出店している味噌や麹などの発酵食品を売る「Aedan」が注目を集めている。

この2、3 年の発酵食品ブームを背景に、家庭の主婦からシェフまで買付が急増し、最近ではレストランのメニューで「koji」の字を時々見かける。日本古来から欠かせないものであった伝統の発酵食品を全て手作りで生産する会社、Aedan Fermented Foods ( 叡伝) が、ムーブメントを起こしている。

創設者の摩利子グレディ氏は、2011年の東日本大震災時、被災地のためにアメリカで何が出来るかを考えた時、味噌を作って、その売り上げを寄付したいとこのビジネスを立ち上げた。「それまでは家族の為に作っていました。その味噌を友人に買ってもらって、売り上げを寄付することを思いついたんです」と摩利子氏。味噌を家で作り始めたきっかけは、アメリカでも子供達に日本の伝統食文化を継承したいという思いからだ。「基本的に味噌と水があれば人間は数日生きていけることを知り、味噌の力のすごさを改めて感じたんです」。販売するにあたって味噌や麹についてさらに探求するうち、この日本の叡智を次の世代を担うアメリカの子供達、もっと多くの人々に伝えていきたいという気持ちが強くなったという。その想いは社名の「叡伝」に表され、会社のミッションになっている。

翌2012 年には、女性やマイノリティの起業を支援するインキュベーションキッチン、「ラ・コシーナ」に加わり、本格的な販売へと乗り出した。そこからラ・コシーナのビジネスアドバイスとサポートを受けながら商品の生産の種類、ビジネス形態も拡張した。例えば自家製発酵調味料を使った料理のケータリングや、ワークショップ、レクチャーなどを通じて地道に認知度を上げてきた。

2016年にはLLCを設立した。同年、食関係のスモールビジネスのオーナーなら誰でもあこがれる、土曜日のフェリービルディングファーマーズマーケットのレギュラー出店を獲得した。このテントでは、まだ味噌に馴染みがない人たちにもその魅力を伝えるため、味噌汁や甘酒(1杯$3)、味噌や塩麹などを使った発酵弁当($15) なども販売している。現在叡伝ではオーガニックの大豆と米を使い4種類の味噌に塩麹、Sagohachi という甘酒ベースの漬床や甘酒(各$10)を製造販売している。ユニークなものでは大豆の代わりにひよこ豆を使ったChickpea Miso がある。地元で作っているため、加熱処理など発酵を止める処理をしていない味噌は、麹の酵素が生きており、熟成が進むほどに深い味わいになる。バイタミックスでなめらかに仕上げられた甘酒はクリーミーで濃厚と評判がよい。Aedan では、売る為だけではなく、味噌と麹の美味しい食べ方を人々に伝えるのが信条だ。

近年では日本食人気が定着し、味噌はもちろん、麹の認知度がアメリカ人に広がり、レインボーグローサリーやバイライトマーケットなど、サンフランシスコの老舗食料品店、レストラン、ケータリングの注文も増えている。年々増えているケータリングの内容は、甘酒を使った卵焼きや塩麹に漬け込んだ豆腐の田楽、麹のピクルスなどシンプルだが奥深い味わいのメニューが好評だ。体に優しい和食ランチはアメリカ人にとっても貴重な存在になっている。

さらに摩利子氏は、「目標はみんなに家で味噌を手作りしてもらうこと。一家に一味噌!」と、人々にそれぞれの家で味噌を仕込み使えるよう、味噌作りのワークショップ、「寺子屋叡伝」にも力を入れている。また、美術館や健康思考のスペシャリティストアに出向き講義も行うなど、活動を広げながら日本の伝統的食文化をアメリカ市民に教導している。

6 年かけて地道に味噌と麹の魅力を伝えてきた「叡伝」にはファンも増え、同司は次のステップをもくろんでいる。現在のところまだ固定店舗はないが、今後の展望はカフェを併設した“味噌カフェ” をオープンすることだという。味噌や麹の販売はもちろん、味噌汁や料理を提供するのみでなく、味噌作りワークショップ、料理教室も開催できるスペースを備えたいという。サンフランシスコ初の発酵食品スペシャリティーカフェで体に優しい食事を楽しめる日も近いかもしれない。

Aedan Fermented Foods: http://aedansf.com/
#alljapannews #SF #Aedan #miso #koji #Japanese #cuisine #shiokoji

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De-omakase style community-based sushi restaurant opens

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By Elli Sekine / Eri Shimizu

New Japanese cuisine projects have been more and more diversified each year, and the trend of the sushi business of the last few years has been high-end omakase style. However, in the Polk Street area where the rent is relatively cheap, there are many restaurants and bars with unique concepts run by young owners and entrepreneurs, which can be enjoyed casually thanks to the reasonably pricing. In this highly hopeful-prospect area, “Kuma Sushi and Sake” recently opened by a collaboration of a Japanese chef and an American chef. They declare “De-omakase style”, which is a rapidly increasing trend, and aim for creating a locally-loved casual dining place. In only 2 months from the opening, they already have earned regular customers.

The co-owners/chefs, Ryo Sakai and Cory Jackson, hit it off with each other while being trained under the same chef, and have worked together in a few other local area restaurants such as “Blow Fish”. After that, the experience in a project they planned together, a popup called “Pink Zebra” made a huge impact on deciding to open this restaurant. Ryo has been living in the Bay Area since his parents moved there from Japan when he was 4 years old. While he was working part-time in a Japanese restaurant during his school years, he was promoted to the kitchen staff, and it opened his eyes to the joy of making sushi. On the other hand, Cory was influenced by his father who loved to cook, and hoped to become a chef at a young age. He was trained in a local Japanese restaurant, and then moved to the Bay Area. He continued his training there in the kitchens of Aqua and Zuni Café.

Once stepped into the restaurant, a natural and modern space opens up, and gray walls and white wood interior under a high ceiling especially attract your attention. Behind the sushi counter on the right are various bottles of famous brand sakes. The interior artwork, murals by a local artist, and the logo by a friend, etc., show their concept of connecting to the local community and crafsmanship. Their “Getas (sushi plate/stand) are hand-made using California wine barrels, with which Ryo fell in love with, and specially custom-ordered them. The Geta’s adequately curved shape and naturally stained color gives a special feeling.

Their particularity about the menu is to offer the freshest, seasonal fish at reasonable prices. In San Francisco, where many sushi restaurants already exist and new restaurants keep opening, it is not easy to survive without being distinctively different from others. In order to be different, they came up with the idea of limiting the numbers of menu items and tables, but increasing the local repeat customers. In order to achieve that, many ingenious ideas are used in choosing the distributors, menu items, and even the operation system. For the fish, multiple distributors are used, depending on whether the fish is local or from Japan. For the drinks, whether sake or wine, each category is narrowed down to only 1 or 2 brands. There are no small bottles of sake, and sake is served by a carafe or by a glass poured from big bottles. It is cost-effective not to carry small bottles which take up a lot of storage space. The reason for carrying both sake and wine is for better paring with different sushi. They recommend “Tojikan” made of 100% Yamada-nishiki. The “Sake Flight” with 3 kinds of sake ($14) is also popular. They plan to change the brands periodically. In order to make good rotations by eliminating empty tables, they do not take reservations. You have to wait at the waiting bar area until your table becomes available while drinking and snacking.

Besides the main a-la-carte dishes, there are popular items such as the chef’s special which is the “5 kinds of sashimi plate” ($32), “4-piece nigiri sushi” ($16), and “8-piece nigiri sushi” ($32). The average cost per person with a drink is about $60, which is pretty reasonable. Daily special sushi/sashimi menu items include traditional Edo-mae style sushi ingredients such as tai (Japanese sea bream) with konbu seaweed, marinated tuna, ocean eel, etc. They use red tuna, not fatty tuna, and use its center for sashimi or sushi, and flavorful outside for marinades.

In order to please people who are not familiar with raw fish, they have many original sushi rolls. The most popular roll is the “Hey Girl” ($14), which has tempura shrimp inside, and is topped with tuna and avocado. The secret of its popularity is to show the live shrimp to the customer right before tempura-frying it. They also offer items like vegetable sushi for vegetarians, to accommodate many customers of different preferences.

Both Ryo and Cory disclose that in the future, they would like to see the restaurant become a friendly neighborhood place which cherishes not only their customers, but also other nearby restaurants and businesses. I would like to continue to keep an eye on the future activities of this restaurant which should turn out to be a sustainable business model that raises community values.


脱・オマカセ、地域密着型寿司店がオープン

新しい日本食プロジェクトは年々多様化し、寿司はハイエンドな「オマカセ」がこの何年かの潮流となっている。ポークストリート界隈では、家賃が比較的安いこともあり、若いオーナーや起業家がチャレンジするユニークなコンセプトで手軽な価格で楽しめるレストランやバーが多いエリアだ。今後さらに注目を集めそうなこの地域に、日米の寿司シェフがタッグを組んだ寿司レストラン、Kuma Sushi and Sake が新しくオープンした。近年急増中の“脱、高級オマカセ寿司”を宣言、カジュアルで地元に愛される店作りを目指し、オープン2 ヶ月で早くも常連客を獲得している。

オーナーシェフのリョウ・サカイ氏とコーリー・ジャクソン氏は、同じシェフの元で修行をしていたことから意気投合し、その後市内の「Blow Fish」など数件の寿司店で共に働いてきた。特に今年まで協働していたポップアップ、「Pink Zebra」 での経験が今回の店のオープンに大きな影響を与えた。リョウ氏は両親とも日本からの移住で、4歳からベイエリア在住。学生の時、日本食レストランでアルバイトをしていた際、キッチンスタッフに抜粋され、寿司を握ることの楽しさに目覚めたという。一方ジャクソン氏は、料理好きな父の影響で幼い頃よりシェフを目指し、地元の日本食店で修行。その後ベイエリアに移りAquaやZuniCafe のキッチンでも修行を重ねた。

店内に一歩足を踏み入れると、ナチュラルモダンな空間が広がり、中でも高い天井にグレーの壁と白木が目を引く。右手の寿司カウンターの背後には各種名酒がずらりと並んでいる。インテリアは、ローカルアーティストによる壁画や友達がロゴを制作するなど、地域と繋がりとクラフト感を大切にしている。寿司を乗せるゲタはカリフォルニアワインの樽を使った手作りで、リョウ氏が特に気に入って特別に注文したらしい。絶妙な丸みと使い込んだ色合いが風合いを持たせている。

メニューのこだわりは、旬の最高の魚を手頃な価格で提供すること。もともと既存の寿司店が多い上に近年新規参入も続くサンフランシスコでは、他店との差別化なしでは生き残りは難しい。そこで考えたのが、アイテム数と席数を抑え、地元のリピーターを増やすという方向性だった。そのため仕入れ先からメニューの決定、運営システムまで様々な工夫をしている。魚はローカルのものと日本からの魚を中心に扱う業者を複数使い分け、ドリンクリストは酒、ワインともそれぞれのカテゴリーから1〜2種ずつに絞り込んでいる。酒は小瓶は置かず一升瓶で仕入れた物をカラフェとグラスで提供する。保管スペースを取る小瓶を置かないことでコスト削減となるという。酒もワインも選ぶポイントは寿司とのペアリング。おすすめの銘柄は山田錦を100%使用した「杜氏鑑」。3種の酒フライト($14)も人気がある。今後銘柄は定期的に入れ替えていく予定。空席を減らし回転率をあげるため、予約はとらない。客は席が空くまで店内のウェイティングバーでドリンクとつまみを楽しみながら待つ。

料理はアラカルトが基本だが、シェフおすすめの刺身5種盛り合わせ($32) や寿司4 貫($16) または8 貫($32) のセットも人気。価格は平均ドリンクを含んでも$60程度と手頃な価格設定だ。日替わりの寿司・刺身メニューには鯛の昆布締めやマグロの漬け、穴子など伝統的な江戸前ネタもある。マグロはあえてトロは置かず赤身のみだが、芯の部分はそのまま、外側は旨味が強いので漬けになど素材を活かす工夫をしている。生魚に抵抗のある客も楽しめるようにと、オリジナルのロール寿司の種類も多い。一番人気はエビの天ぷらを巻きマグロとアボカドをトッピングした「Hey Girl」($14)。揚げる前に客に生きたエビを見せるパフォーマンスも人気の秘密だ。またベジタリアン向きにも野菜寿司があり、様々な嗜好の客をターゲットにしている。

また、両氏は今後の店づくりとして、地元経済が発展するよう近隣の飲食店やほかのビジネスも「仲間」と意識する「地域作り」に貢献したいと語る。コミュニティの価値を上げる持続可能なビジネスモデルを掲げる同店の活動を注視していきたい。



Kuma Sushi and sake
1040 Polk St. at Post
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 962-7400
http://www.kumasf.com/

Tues – Thurs 11:30am to 2pm, 5:30pm to 10pm
Friday 11:30am to 2pm, 5:30pm to 11pm
Saturday 5:30pm to 11pm
Sunday 5:30pm to 10pm
Closed on Monday
#alljapannews #sushi #SF #kumasushiandsake #sashimi

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SF Ramen Trend, 2017

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By Elli Sekine

The ramen boom of San Francisco sees no end in sight, and continues to enchant local ramen fans. During the past 10-year history of this SF ramen boom, those who took the lead of the first-phase must have been “Izakaya Sozai”, “Katanaya-Ramen”, etc. Among them, the signature dish of “Sozai”, the tonkotsu ramen, was voted as “the meal that you wish to have at least once before you die”, which drove ramen fans to rush in night after night. The truth was that this menu item was something the owner created in his spare time just for fun, but ended up as an item on the menu to finish a meal with. After that, the word “tonkotsu” spread quickly.

In the meantime, in Silicon Valley, “Orenchi” that opened 7 years ago in Santa Clara, had a major impact on the ramen boom by being so popular that people waited as long as 2 hours to get in. Since the “Orenchi” brand had pretty much been established, the second restaurant, stylish, and named “Orenchi Beyond” opened in 2015 in San Francisco, and is attracting a younger generation of people in San Francisco. Some of the restaurants which gathered a lot of attention for their openings in 2016 are “Nojo Ramen Tavern”, the first overseas development of AP Company known for “Tsukada Nojo”, specializing in jidori chicken cooking, “Iza Ramen”, the ramen department of a local popular sushi restaurant called “Blowfish”, and “Mensho Tokyo”, also the first overseas development from Tokyo which is currently breaking through. In Japan Town where the competition is very high, “Waraku” and “Yamadaya” started in LA, and Suzu” used to be the top 3; however, popularity is transitioning to newer restaurants like “Marufuku Ramen” that opened this year, and “Hinodeya Ramen”, also a new overseas development from Japan launched at the end of last year. “Marufuku Ramen” is especially popular; so much so that people form a long line every day. The restaurant that is attracting attention the most among the newly opened ones is “Ippudo”, the Hakata style ramen sanctuary, which is known worldwide, and finally opened in Berkley after a long preparation period.

As a new trend, there is an increase in the number of izakaya-style ramen restaurants which have developed from ramen specialty restaurants by adding a-la-carte dishes and various drinks on the menu. You could spend as much as 40 to 50 dollars per person in such a restaurant. Americans are getting more particular about tastes, and trends are moving toward “local gourmet foods” that offer traditional regional tastes. San Francisco’s ramen business industry is getting more diversified, and competition on a higher level continues to grow.

J-POP Ramen Summit
The “J-POP Summit”, the US’s largest festival of Japanese pop culture, was held on September 9th and 10th at Fort Maison Center. This event was produced by Yoshiyuki Maruyama who triggered the Bay Area ramen culture. The “Ramen Summit” that brought together 5 ramen restaurants, 4 from SF and 1 from Seattle, was a big success, and was very busy throughout with many visitors until the end. People formed a long line in front of every booth, and truly enjoyed comparing bowls of ramen of different popular restaurants, etc., which they can experience only at a festival like this. http://www.j-pop.com/

/////// Introduction of the restaurants ///////

1. Nojo Ramen Tavern
Their signature dish is gorgeous Chicken Paitan ($18.50 at the restaurant), in which a whole chicken leg is in the bowl. The rich thick broth accentuated with ginger and yuzu is profoundly tasty and volumerous. Medium thick curly noodles made of whole wheat flour are custom-made.
http://nojosf.com/

2. YOROSHIKU
It is a popular restaurant in Seattle, and the first time exhibitor of the Ramen Summit. Thier signature dish, made by the owner/chef from Hokkaido, is Spicy Miso ($14 at the restaurant). The broth is an excellent combination of white and red miso with added spicy chilli, and is very well received among Americans.
https://www.yoroshikuseattle.com/

3. Orenchi Beyond
Their signature dish is “Beyond Ramen” ($13.50). Its rich tonkotsu shoyu base with added fish stock and garlic is full of originality, and rich in taste and creates a good balance with medium-thick bouncy curly noodles. As new additions to the menu, they have miso-tamatoe base vegan ramen, tantanmen, etc.
http://orenchi-beyond.com/
  
4. Marufuku Ramen
Traditional Hakata-style tonkotsu base broth cooked for 20 hours is a good match to its custom-made flavorful straight thin noodles. Their signature dish is Hakata Tonkotsu ($10.99). This restaurant is breaking through by offering the right richness, adjustable spiciness, various topping choices and a rich-variery of a-la-carte dishes.
https://www.marufukuramen.com/

5. Hinodeya Ramen & Bar
This restaurant came to the US for the first time to try to introduce authentic dashi culture. Its delicate flavorful dashi of bonito and konbu coats the medium-thick curly noodles well, and bring out the good taste. Its sophisticated, light-flavored dashi ramen and kappo-style a-la-carte dishes are differentiated from other restaurants, and has established a good reputation.
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SFラーメントレンド2017

サンフランシスコのラーメンブームは止まる所を知らない。次から次へと新しいコンセプトの店が登場し、地元のラーメンファンを魅了している。この10 年のSF ラーメンブームの歴史を振り返ってみると、第1次ブームを牽引したのは、「Izakaya Sozai」や「Katanaya-ramen」だろう。そのうち「Sozai」の名物、「豚骨ラーメン」は、ローカル誌の「死ぬ前に一度食べたい一品」に抜擢され、夜な夜なラーメンファンが駆けつけた。しかしこのメニュー、実はオーナーが趣味で作ったシメのメニューだった。それから「tonkotsu」のキーワードは一気に広まった。

一方、シリコンバレー、Santa Claraに7年前に登場した 「Orenchi」は、最長2時間待ちという盛況ぶりでラーメンブームに拍車をかけた。その“Orenchi”ブランドが確立した事もあり2015年、サンフランシスコにお洒落な2号店、「Orenchi Beyond」を開店し、SF の若年層を惹きつけた。2016 年のオープンで注目を浴びたのが、地鶏料理の「塚田農場」で知られるAP カンパニー初の米国進出になる「Nojo Ramen avern」、地元人気寿司店「Blowfish」のラーメンバージョン、「Iza ramen」と、東京から初米国進出でブレーク中の「MenshoTokyo」だ。そしてラーメン店の激戦区、日本街にはそれまで「Waraku」、LA 発祥の「Yamada-ya」、「Suzu」の3強だったが、今年オープンした新店舗「Marufuku Ramen」と去年暮れにオープンした日本からの初進出店、「Hinodeya Ramen」に人気は移行し、中でも「Marufuku」は、連日長蛇の列を成している。新規オープンで最も注目されているのが、長年の準備期間を経てバークレーに新オープンした、世界にその名を轟かす博多ラーメンの殿堂、「Ippudo」だ。

最近の傾向としては、ラーメン専門店から一品料理を加えドリンクの種類も揃えたRamen Izakara が増えている。中には一人の会計が$40 〜50 という店も少なくない。アメリカ人の舌も肥え、流行は地方伝統の味を提供する“ ご当地グルメ” へと移行している。多様化が進むSF ラーメンビジネス業界は一層レベルアップした激戦が続いている。

J-POP ラーメンサミット
全米最大の日本ポップカルチャーの祭典、「J-Pop Summit」 が先日9 月9 日、10 日にFort Maison Center で開催され、 ベイエリアラーメンカルチャーの火付け役、丸山良幸氏がプロデュースした「Ramen Summit」は、SF 4軒とシアトルから1軒の計5店舗が結集し、終始大盛況で幕を閉じた。各ブースにはラーメンファンが長蛇の列を作り、祭りでしか体験できない人気店の一杯を食べ比べするなど堪能していた。http://www.j-pop.com/

/////// ラーメンサミットにラインアップした店舗紹介 ///////

1. Nojo Ramen Tavern
看板メニューは、チキンレッグが丸ごと丼に入ったゴージャスなChickenPaitan(店頭価格$18.50)。こってり濃厚なブロスはジンジャーやゆずの味のアクセントがあり、味わい深くボリューミーな絶品。全粒粉を使用した中太縮れ麺はカスタムメイド。 

2. YOROSHIKU
 シアトル一の人気店で、今回ラーメンサミットは初出店となる。北海道出身のオーナーシェフが作る看板メニューは、spycymisho( 店頭価格$14)。白味噌と赤味噌の絶妙な合わせでピリ辛チリを加えたブロスでアメリカ人に大好評。サンフランシスコへの進出を考慮中。

3. Orenchi Beyond
看板メニューは「Beyond ramen」($13.50) で、濃厚な豚骨醤油ベースに魚だしとニンニクを加えたオリジナリティ溢れるリッチな味わいで弾力がある縮れ中太麺とのバランスが良い。新作メニューには、味噌トマトベースのビーガンラーメン、担々麺などが揃う。

4. Marufuku Ramen
正統派、博多スタイル豚骨ベース。20 時間煮込んだブロスとカスタムメイドの風味良いストレート細麺との相性が引き立つ。看板メニューは、HakataTonkotsu ($10.99) で、こってりすぎず好みに合わせた辛さや追加トッピングを選べる。一品料理も豊富でブレーク中。

5. Hinodeya Ramen & Bar
本格的な出汁文化を紹介すべく挑んだ米国初進出店。風味豊かなカツオと昆布の繊細な本格和風だしと中太縮れ麺がブロスと程よく絡み美味しさを引き立たせている。代表ラーメンは、HidenyaRamen ($14) で、割烹風な一品料理も人気。「出汁ラーメン」は他店と差別化され、定評を得ている。
#alljapannews #ramen #trend #SF #JPOPramensamit

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