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The Annual Japan Sake Awards’ “Double Gold Medal”

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By Kosuke Kuji

The Annual Japan Sake Awards announced their winners: Nambu Bijin Brewery, and Nambu Bijin Brewery – Basenkyo that simultaneously won the Gold Medal two consecutive years. The Nambu Bijin Brewery won the Gold Medal 12 times in the last 13 years, while Nambu Bijin Brewery – Basenkyo was newly awarded a refined sake production license and won 3 Gold Medals in 4 years.

I recently attended the Production Technology Research Society’s Sake Tasting Event held in Higashi-Hiroshima, attended by Brewery Masters, Master Sake Brewers, and sake production-related professionals to sample the sake entries for this national tasting event. While the necks of some of the various sake bottles were labeled with the Gold Medal mark, while others were not, all of the sake brands were high in quality, indicating the sake production technology is truly advancing nationwide.

This year was more challenging than usual in producing the Yamadanishiki. It’s been a while since sake production was this challenging, and for this reason, the Master Sake Brewers were more jovial than usual when the production season ended.

The number of submissions recognized with the Gold Award and other prizes were high overall across Iwate prefecture. As a Technical Vice Chairman, I was glad to have contributed to this achievement in what small way I could.

Breweries have since switched gears, preparing for the next sake production season. While greater production challenges than this past season may wait, we look forward to overcoming these challenges together to produce sake that our consumers will smile upon tasting. We look forward to your continued support for Nambu Bijin!!


全国新酒鑑評会「ダブル金賞」

先日発表された全国新酒鑑評会で本社蔵、馬仙峡蔵が2年連続の金賞を同時にいただきました。本社蔵は近年13年で12回の金賞、馬仙峡蔵は新規清酒製造免許をいただいて4年で3回の金賞受賞となります。

東広島で開催された製造技術研究会に行ってまいりました。全国から集まった蔵元、杜氏、製造関係者が一堂に全国鑑評会出品酒をきき酒します。酒の首には金賞のマークがあるもの、無いもの様々ですが、どのお酒もレベルが高く、本当に全国の技術が高くなっていることが実感できます。

今年は今まで以上に山田錦の扱いに苦労した年でした。これほど大変だったのは久しぶりで、その苦労の分、杜氏達の喜びも例年以上でした。

岩手県全体でも今年は金賞、入賞の率が高く、私も県の技術副委員長として少しは貢献できたのかと思っています。

気持ちを切り替えて、来期の酒造りに蔵はもう向かっています。今年以上の苦しみもあるかもしれませんが、それをみんなで乗り越えてまた飲んでいただく皆さんが笑顔になる酒造りを目指していきます。これからも南部美人をどうぞ応援よろしくお願いします!!
#alljapannews #sake #TheAnnualJapanSakeAwards

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Authentic sushi by Tsukiji-acquired skills enjoyed in a hideout with limited seating of 7

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Authentic sushi by Tsukiji-acqu... Authentic sushi by Tsukiji-acqu... Authentic sushi by Tsukiji-acqu... Authentic sushi by Tsukiji-acqu... Authentic sushi by Tsukiji-acqu...
By Elli Sekine

“Yume Sushi”, a famous popular sushi restaurant located in the Alameda District, which is on the east side of the bay across the Bay Bridge of San Francisco, closed its doors last fall and is still being missed by many people. Yume’s owner entrusted the next phase of his dream to Chikara Ono, who now runs some hot restaurants in the East Bay such as Delage and As B-Dama, which are really on a roll. The restaurant which opened only less than half a year after the closing of Yume Sushi is “Utzutzu”, which offers new concept kaiseki cuisine. Their menu uses the word, “Okimari”, instead of “Omakase”, which exhibits the strong will of this young manager. “Utzutzu (reality in Japanese)” that succeeded “Yume (dream in Japanese)” has been filled up with customers every day despite the fact that they opened only a short time ago.

The restaurant is located on a major street, but no sigh is displayed on the street, and you need to go upstairs to enter, which gives this place a hideout-like ambience. The interior decoration has a combined theme of antique Taisho-era romantic and Showa-era modern. By removing the wall to the next room which was an office space, the sushi counter was made, and a cool royal blue- colored couch was added to create a lounge. They take only 5:30 and 8:30 reservations, and the two reservations do not overlap. Customers are to wait in the lounge, enjoying drinks until everybody in the party arrives. The drink menu contains 2 to 3 kinds of each Daiginjo, Ginjo, and Junmai sake brands, plus beer is domestic beer and two kinds of Japanese craft beer. Nicely cooled sake is served in an antique glass. The chef who serves sushi at the counter is Joji Nonaka, who has experience working at Tsukiji selling wholesale fresh seafood, and at Ichi Sushi, a popular sushi restaurant in San Francisco. He determines the contents of the menu with Chef Asuka Uchida, who is in charge of other items besides sushi.

Nonaka was making sushi side by side with Ono behind the counter of Delage, long before the opening of Utzutzu came up. Ono then decided to entrust Utzutzu to Nonaka by witnessing Ono always offering customers sushi at the best possible condition. As for Chef Uchida, she has a background of working at French restaurants, and has worked in Japan, Australia, and New York before.

Chef Uchida has worked under Ono for nearly 5 years since the B- Dama days, and her keen sense in cooking is highly trusted.

There is only one menu item, which is the $100 Okimari course. The course consists of 15 to 16 pieces of sushi, and seasonal vegetable dishes are served in-between while sushi is served. To finalize the course, temaki (hand-rolled) sushi, and miso soup, and a dessert are served. In America, a course with pre-fixed price and menu can be called “Omakase”; however in Japan, it is called “Okimari”. “Omakase” in Japan, on the other hand, means neither the price nor the contents of the course is pre-fixed. It is an ultimate choice, in which the crafty chef makes sushi, etc., depending on the customer’s preference, and serves whatever the good ingredients they have for the day.

Nonaka says that he would also like to offer an “Omakase” menu in the future. At Utzutzu, they are particular about serving authentic Japanese style sushi. The fish is directly shipped mainly from Tsukiji and Kyushu, and for nigiri, they are particular about bringing out each fish’s natural flavor, rather than accentuating the taste with unique sauces or toppings. Depending on the ingredients, some preparation is involved such as light-salting or konbu-jime (kelp-sandwiching), but it is done to remove excess water or unwanted taste rather than accentuating the taste of the ingredient.

During my visit, black porgy konbu-jime was served first, followed by fire-grilled skin of the same fish. Excess water was removed from the tender meat by konbu-jime treatment, and the fish was light-tasting, but was full of umami.

Fatty skin adds flavor, and its texture becomes so tender, which melts in your mouth. The same fish can be enjoyed in totally different ways depending on the parts. The course always includes about 2 pieces of vegetable sushi. It is because they want the course to have variations with a seasonal flare that is uniquely California.

Different blends of soy sauces are used to accentuate light-tasting ingredients and rich-tasting ingredients. Another example of particularity they exhibit is that raw wasabi directly shipped from Japan is grated in front of customers.

Rich-colored vinegared rice is made with mildly sweet red vinegar. Nonaka says that he would like to keep the old sushi traditions, but at the same time, bring any good things in to grow further. He is assertive about taking any interesting ingredients in. For example, a vegetable called seabean, which grows by the sea is combined with fatty tuna for the course’s last item, a hand-roll, taking advantage of its natural saltiness and crunchy texture. It’s the Nonaka version of the standard hand-roll, “Toro-Taku”, arranged his way.

For the dishes other than sushi, they use vegetables procured from the local farmer’s markets, which are cooked in robust flavor, which also matches Japanese sake well.

French cuisine-influenced good sense is shown in the techniques and presentations by the chef of that background. For instance, the base of octopus in vinegar sauce has certainly a Japanese dashi-based taste, but it is presented so gorgeously in a cocktail glass, which looks like a modern French dish. Their desserts also taste so good, and are beyond the level of a sushi place, and their beautiful appearance will surely satisfy customers.

This restaurant is full of customers every day. Foodies come from not only the local Alameda District, but also San Francisco, and fill this restaurant. While the high-end Omakase sushi boom seems to have settled, there are more customers now, who understand sushi culture well, and this must be the reason for the popularity of this place.

Both Chef Nonaka and Chef Uchida hope to evolve the Japan-like sushi style further, while conveying it to American people. I would like to keep close eyes on Utzutzu’s future development.


限定7席の隠れ家で味わう築地仕込みの本格寿司

サンフランシスコからベイブリッジを渡った東側の湾、アラメダ地区に寿司の名店として人気を博していた「Yume Sushi」が昨年秋、周囲に惜しまれつつ閉店した。Yumeのオーナーがその夢の続きを託した人物が、今イーストベイでノリに乗っている人気店、DelageやAs B-damaの経営者である小野力氏だ。クローズからたった半年余りでオープンしたのが、新しいコンセプトの寿司懐石を提案する「Utzutzu」だ。メニューには「おまかせ」ならぬ「おきまり」と明記し、若き経営者の本気度を感じさせられる。「夢 Yume」の後を引き継いた「現(うつつ) Utzutzu」はまだ開店したばかりにも関わらず連日満席の人気ぶりだ。

店はメインストリートに位置するが、看板もなく階段を上がった二階にある隠れ家的存在だ。内装は大正ロマン/昭和モダンを取り入れたアンティークなイメージで統一されている。元事務所スペースとの壁を取り壊し、寿司カウンターに加え、鮮やかなロイヤルブルーのソファーを配したラウンジを作った。予約は5時半と8時半の完全入れ替え制。客は全員が揃うのを待つ間、このラウンジでドリンクを楽しむ。ドリンクは日本酒が大吟醸、吟醸、純米酒が2〜3種ずつ、ビールはローカルと日本のクラフトビール2種。適温に冷やされた酒はアンティークのグラスで提供される。カウンターで寿司を握るのは、築地での鮮魚卸やサンフランシスコの人気寿司店ICHI Sushiでの経験もある野中城治シェフ。メニュー内容は寿司以外の料理を担当する内田明日香シェフと相談して決めている。野中氏はUtzutzu開店の話が出る以前からDelageで小野氏と並びカウンターで寿司を握っていた。小野氏は常に最高の状態で客に寿司を提供しようとする野中氏を見て、Utzutzuを任せようと決めたという。一方の内田シェフはフレンチレストラン出身で、日本、オーストラリア、ニューヨークでの経験を経て現在がある。小野氏の元ではB-dama時代から5年近く仕事をし、その料理センスには全幅の信頼がある。

メニューは$100のおきまり1コースのみ。寿司が15〜16貫、合間にキッチンからの季節の野菜料理があり、しめの手巻きすしと味噌汁、デザートと続く。アメリカでは価格とメニューの決まったコースは「おまかせ」で通るが、日本ではこのスタイルは「おきまり」と呼ばれる。一方の「おまかせ」は価格もメニュー内容も決まりはなく、職人は客の好みやその日の良いネタからそれぞれの客に合わせて寿司を出す究極のセレクションだ。野中氏は将来的に「おまかせ」も提供して行きたいと語る。Utzutzuでのこだわりは日本的な寿司。魚は主に築地や九州からの直送で、握りには変わりソースやトッピングで味を乗せるのではなく、魚の味を引き出すことにこだわる。ネタによっては軽く塩や昆布で〆るなどの手をかけるが、これは味をのせるためというよりも、余分な水分や雑味を取り除くための仕事だ。訪店時には最初に黒鯛の昆布締めが出され、続いて黒鯛の皮の部分の炙りをいただいた。淡白で柔らかい身は昆布で締めることで余分な水分が抜け、さっぱりとしつつ旨味が広がる。脂ののった皮には香ばしさが加わりとろける口当たりになる。同じ魚でも部位で全く違う味わいを楽しめる。握りの中には必ず2貫程度野菜の握りもある。カリフォルニアならではの季節感を出し、コースに変化を持たせるためだ。淡白なネタと味の濃いネタでは仕上げ醤油の配合も変えている。日本から直送の生ワサビを客の前でおろして使うのもこだわりだ。

濃い色の酢飯はまろやかな甘みのある赤酢(粕酢)を使用している。野中氏は寿司の伝統にもこだわりつつ、良いものは取り入れ成長して行きたいと語る。食材でも面白いものがあれば積極的にとり入れる。例えばシービーンズという海岸で育つ野菜は天然の塩気とシャキシャキとした食感を生かし、最後の手巻きでトロと合わせる。手巻きの定番、「トロタク」を野中流にアレンジした形だ。

寿司以外の料理は地元のファーマーズマーケットなどから仕入れた野菜を使い、日本酒にも合うしっかりとした味付けになっている。テクニックや盛り付けにはフレンチ出身シェフならではセンスも生かされている。例えば蛸の酢の物のベースはしっかりと和の出汁の聞いた味わいだが、カクテルグラスへの盛り付けはモダンフレンチを思わせる華やかさだ。デザートも寿司屋の域を超えたパティスリーレベルの美味しさ、美しさで客を満足させる。

店はすでに連日フルハウス。地元アラメダのみならず、サンフランシスコからのフーディーな客でいっぱいだ。ハイエンドおまかせ寿司ブームは一段落したとはいえ、数年前よりも寿司に理解のある客が増えたからこその人気ではないだろうか。より日本らしい寿司スタイルをアメリカ人にも伝えつつ進化させたいとする野中氏と内田氏。Utzutzuの展開をこれからも注視していきたい。



Utzutzu
1428 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501
Tel: (510) 263-8122
Business Hours Tue-Sun 5:30-,8:30 - (replacement system)
Monday closed
Reservation: Through Resy
#alljapannews #CA #Utzutzu #sushi #sake

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Sake Tasting

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Experience and knowledge are indispensable for sake tasting, but doing many tastings absent-mindedly does not help.

Many tend to think that a person must have an excellent sense of judging taste (to have people think that way is very flattering), but that isn’t necessarily so. Also, those who wish to become a sake sommelier seem to think that one must keep on trying different types of sake.

To be able to taste sake, the most importing to do is to identify and set your own tasting criteria. The criteria are not based on one’s preferences, so one must find the foundation that become the basis for judging various sake. One must have that foundation in place to be able to recognize aroma, acidity, body and umami, that different types of sake have. Knowledge and information that you gather would supplement that to help correctly and fairly assess sake products.

So how can one establish that foundation for establishing your own tasting criteria? Here is the quickest and least expensive way of doing it, based on my own experience.

First, buy low-priced sake at a store. Try it every day for 15 days, even if you don’t like it or it’s simply horrible (some people may need 20 days). Do not drink it until it makes you drunk. It’s most important that you drink a certain amount every day, even if it’s just enough to fill an ochoko (tiny sake cup). Do not try other sake while you’re trying one.

Stop for two to three days to rest your liver, then do a tasting of a different sake. You will probably realize that you can profile the sake to surprising details. The differences in acidity, the body, aroma, and umami, as well as aftertaste intensity – you should be able to clearly tell those differences.

Once you have that understanding, all you need to do is study on which step of the process makes those differences. Also, deepen your understanding on raw ingredients and water, and study how to express them as well as food pairings. This way, you will become a great sake sommelier.


日本酒を利く

日本酒を利くにはもちろん経験と知識が必要となるが無意識に多数利いても意味がない。

多くの人は、利き酒師になるためには人一倍の味覚判断能力が必要(そう思っていただくことは非常に光栄なこと)なのではないかと思われがちだが、必ずしもそうではない。さらに利き酒師になりたい多くの人は種類の違う酒をとにかく試さなくてはいけないと思いこんでいると思われる。
 
利き酒をするにあたって一番重要なことは自分自身の味覚基準を設定、見つけることである。基準とは自分自身の好みではなく、他の酒を判定するのに必要な味覚の軸となるものを見つけることにある。その軸となる味をしっかりと持つことにより他の酒の違う香り、酸味、ボディー、旨みを感じるようになるのだ。後は知識と情報収集により、他の商品をより公平にしかも的確に評価できるようになるのである。

ではその軸を見つける方法だが、今回私自身の経験から一番手っ取り早く、しかも費用のかからない味覚判断基準の見つけ方をお教えしよう。

店頭で安い日本酒を購入し、嫌い、まずい酒でもひたすら同じ酒を15日間毎日飲むこと(人によっては20日間くらいかかる人もいるだろうが)。決して酔うまでは飲まないこと。量はお猪口一杯でもすする程度でもいいから欠かさず飲むことが必要となる。(その間、他の日本酒は飲まない方がよい)

2~3日の肝臓休憩後に違う日本酒を利いてみる。おそらく、いままでは分からなかった味が恐ろしく利けることになってるだろう。酸味の違い、ボディーの濃淡、香りの違い、旨みのレベル、後味の強弱がはっきりと分かるようになる。

それが理解できてくれば、後はそれらの違いがどこの工程、造りで影響されるのかを勉強すればいいのだ。また、原材料や水についても知識を深め、さらに表現力と料理との相性を勉強していけば立派な利き酒師となれるのである。
#alljapannews #sake #saketesting #sommelier

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Perfect unification of seemingly completely opposite concepts - take-out and omakase

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Perfect unification of seemingly... Perfect unification of seemingly... Perfect unification of seemingly... Perfect unification of seemingly... Perfect unification of seemingly... Perfect unification of seemingly...
By Aya Ota

“Blue Ribbon Restaurant Group” has developed 20 restaurants nationwide so far, mainly in New York, plus LA, Las Vegas, Miami, etc. Since they first opened a small French Brasserie in the SOHO district of Manhattan in 1992, they have been expanding business types and genres of cuisine one after another, which include bakeries, bars, bowling alleys, and take-out fried chicken stores, and has established a position which people regard as the “Empire of the restaurant industry”.

The sushi business department among all is the core of this group. Starting with the first “Blue Ribbon Sushi” which opened in the SOHO district in 1993, they kept adding, and so far established 7 sushi restaurants including “Blue Ribbon Sushi Izakaya”, in which the izakaya style serving is combined, and “Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill”, in which the grilling style cooking is brought in. All of those restaurants offer a casual and friendly ambiance, and stay open until late.

The “Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar” is an innovative type of business which the company’s sushi department has been specifically working on diligently in the recent years. In this business, two concepts, easy take-out sushi, donburi bowls and very authentic sushi served and eaten at the counter, which are seemingly totally opposite serving styles, have been splendidly unified. They opened the first Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar in the food court, Hudson Eats, in the Financial District’s business facility called Brookfield Place in 2014, and opened the second restaurant in the basement concourse of the Rockefeller Center on the confidence of the success with the first one.

“You can enjoy take-out sushi that is as good as restaurant-quality sushi reasonably,” says Kazutaka Iimori, who has been supervising Blue Ribbon Sushi restaurant chain including the original “Blue Ribbon Sushi” in SOHO, as the executive chef.

Mr. Iimori is a person with a unique career, who knows deeply not only about cooking, but also everything about the restaurant businesses which includes architecture of restaurants and customer service. In 1989, when he was 9 years old, he came to the US due to his father’s job transfer. His father was also a chef. He started to work in a Japanese restaurant at the age of 16 on the side, and experienced all types of restaurant jobs from dish-washing, serving, to food preparation. He studied architecture in college, and once thought about pursuing a career as an architect; however, he was strongly drawn to the dynamics of the restaurant business, and chose to become a chef. After working well for some notable restaurants such as “Nobu”, “Ushiwakamaru”, and “Shinbashi”, he started to work for “Blue Ribbon Group” in 2008, and has been demonstrating his powerful skills ever since.

Mr. Iimori’s sushi-making values tradition, and at the same time, is full of creativity. He must have inherited his talents in cooking from his chef father, and also benefitted from the exposure to the Japanese cuisine environment which he grew up in. Moreover, living in the US since the young age of 9 must have helped him understand American customers’ preferences in taste naturally. Their take-out menu containing sushi, donburi, bento, salads, etc., is varied and well-balanced, and has excellent selections. The poké bowl is now a popular standard menu item everywhere, but they were the first that started to serve it, and made it popular in New York. For the base, you choose either rice or noodles, and then 2 toppings of your choice out of 8 different kinds.
You can also add furikake. When they first started to serve the poké bowl, it was not that well received because seafood toppings turn to unfavorable colors after being marinated. However, it gained popularity gradually because of its good taste, and also the fun part in which you are allowed to choose and create your own bowl.

If you sit at the counter, you can enjoy various types of sushi, from modern types such as the avocado roll, to the more authentic edomae style sushi. Mr. Iimori recommends that at each of their restaurants, the best thing is to sit at the counter, and order omakase from the chef in front of you across the counter. He gets a lot of omakase requests as well. He said, “I don’t stay at one place, and am usually running around among those multiple restaurants all the time, but if you see me, please don’t hesitate to say hello!”

Another unique characteristic of this restaurant is that they sell some products at the restaurant that are carefully selected by themselves. They sell cup noodles, bags of snacks, soy sauce bottles, wasabi oil, one cup sake, etc. Their privately-labeled soy sauce, and originally-developed wasabi honey sauce are very popular.

“Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar” can accommodate all situations - take-out, retail, and restaurants, by combining various business types. I am sure that they will satisfy your needs every time you visit.


テイクアウトとおまかせ、一見真逆のコンセプトを見事に融合

ニューヨークを中心に、ロサンゼルス、ラスベガス、マイアミなどに約20店舗のレストランを展開する『ブルーリボン・レストラン・グループ』。1992年、マンハッタンのSOHO地区に、小さなフレンチ・ブラッセリーを開店して以来、ベーカリー、バー、ボーリング場、テイクアウトのフライド・チキンなど、業態や料理ジャンルを次々に拡大し、今では、“レストラン業界のエンパイア”とまで呼ばれる存在になっている。

中でも寿司は、同グループの中枢を担う存在で、1993年にSOHO地区に『ブルーリボン寿司』を開店以降、居酒屋スタイルを合わせた『ブルーリボン寿司居酒屋』、グリル料理を取り入れた『ブルーリボン寿司バー&グリル』など、寿司分野だけでも、さまざまな業態で7店舗を展開している。どの店も、カジュアルでフレンドリーな雰囲気にあふれ、夜遅くまで開店しているのが特徴だ。

『ブルーリボン寿司バー』は、同グループ寿司部門の中でも、近年力を入れて取りくんでいる革新的な業態だ。テイクアウトの寿司や丼と、カウンターに着席して食べる本格的な寿司という、一見、真逆のふたつのコンセプトを見事に融合させている。一店舗目に金融街の 商業施設『ブルックフィールド・プレイス』内のフードコート『ハドソン・イーツ』 に2014年開店、その成功を受け、2店舗目をロックフェラーセンターの地下コンコースに、約1年前に開店した。

「寿司レストランと変わらないクオリティを、テイクアウトでもリーズナブルに楽しめる」と語るのは、飯盛一貴氏。SOHO地区にある『ブルーリボン寿司』のオリジナル店から、ブルーリボン寿司全店舗の総料理長(Executive Chef)を務めている。

飯盛氏は、料理はもちろんのことだが、店舗設計から接客まで、レストランビジネスに存在するあらゆる業務に精通しているという、ユニークな経歴の持ち主だ。1989年、自身が9歳の時に、料理職人だった父親の転勤に伴い渡米。16歳のころに和食店でアルバイトを始めたことをきっかけに、皿洗い、サーバー、仕込みまで、あらゆる業務を経験した。大学では建築を専攻し、いったんは建築の道を志したものの、飲食業というダイナミックなビジネスに惹かれ、料理人の道を歩むことになる。その後、『Nobu』『牛若丸』『新橋』といった名店で活躍した後、2008年から『ブルーリボン・グループ』で腕を振るっている。

飯盛氏が作る寿司は、伝統を重んじつつも創意工夫に富んだ内容だ。料理職人だった父親譲りの才能や、幼い頃から和食に親しむ機会に恵まれていたことも影響したのだろう。9歳で渡米したこともあって、米国人客の嗜好も、皮膚感覚でよく理解しているのだろう。寿司や丼、弁当、サラダなど、バリエーション豊富かつバランスよく取りそろえたテイクアウト・メニューは秀逸だ。今ではすっかり定着したポケ丼も、ニューヨークで大々的に開始したのは、同店が初めてのことだったという。ベースにはご飯または麺類を選び、8種類用意された具材から2種類トッピングした後に、さらにはふりかけも選ぶことができる。ポケ丼を開始した当初は、魚介類をソースに漬け込むことで色が悪くなると、評判も芳しくなかったというが、美味しさや選ぶ楽しさもあって、徐々に人気が広がったそうだ。

カウンターで着席して食べる寿司は、アボカドロールのような現代的なものから、江戸前本格派まで楽しむことができる。飯盛氏のおすすめは、各店舗で板前の前に座って、おまかせを食べてもらうこと。飯盛氏の前でおまかせを食べたいという客も多いそう。「一店舗にとどまらず駆け回っているが、気さくに声をかけてほしい」と同氏は話す。

もうひとつ同店で特徴的なことは、カップ麺やスナック菓子、醤油やワサビオイル、カップ酒など、同店が厳選した商品を小売りしていること。同店プライベートレーベルの醤油や、オリジナル開発したワサビ蜂蜜ソースも人気がある。

テイクアウト、小売、レストラン…いくつもの業態を組み合わせて、ありとあらゆるシチュエーションに対応してくれる『ブルーリボン寿司バー』。いつ行っても満足させてくれるに違いない。



Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar
30 Rockefeller Plaza
Concourse Level
New York, NY 10112
Tel: 212-937-0204
https://www.blueribbonrestaurants.com/
#alljapannews #omakase #BlueRibbonSushiBar #NY

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Teppan cooking enjoyed by ears, eyes, and tongue

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Teppan cooking enjoyed by ear... Teppan cooking enjoyed by ear... Teppan cooking enjoyed by ear... Teppan cooking enjoyed by ear...
By Keiko Fukuda

The city of Irvine, a suburban residential, and also a student campus town is located about a 40-minute drive south of downtown Los Angeles. There, there is a shopping mall, where as many Asian restaurants gather as they do in the Sawtelle District of West Los Angeles. It is the Diamond Jamboree Shopping Center. There are plenty of good restaurants other than just some Korean restaurants, which includes Kula Revolving Sushi Bar, Coco Ichiban, and Tokyo Table where all the standard Japanese food menu items are covered.

“Pepper Lunch” was added to this shopping center’s restaurant lineup in January of 2018. It is a sister restaurant of a Japanese steak specialty restaurant chain, “IKINARI STEAK”. Within merely half a year since its opening, Pepper Lunch has already reached the top 4 position in “Diamond Jamboree Shopping Center’s top 10 restaurant list” on Yelp.

I have had a Pepper Lunch experience in Japan. You could have a steak which makes a sizzling sound on an iron plate with only 1000 yen. Not only the fact that it was so tasty, but that reasonable pricing left a strong impression on me.
The first Pepper Lunch in the US was opened in Irvine. The restaurant is run by Oishii Group Holdings, LLC. With this Irvine location as the kick-off, they are planning to add multiple restaurants within the state of California.

I personally regarded Pepper Lunch as a “steak restaurant”, but I heard that it is officially positioned as a teppan-cooking specialty restaurant. Not only steaks, but all types of cooking including pepper rice, which reminds me of ishiyaki-bibimbap, curry, teriyaki hamburg, salmon, etc. are served sizzling hot on iron plates.

The ambiance of the restaurant is casual as that of Japan. Customers place orders at the counter just like at a fast food place, not at the table. There have been similar style steak restaurants in the US as well for a long time such as Sizzler, so this serving style should provide no sense of unfamiliarity.

This style of ordering must be used to keep the cost down, and offer reasonable pricing. For your information, the 6oz Rib Eye Steak is $18.50, Double Hamburg Combo Deluxe, which consists of 2 hamburgs and side vegetables, is $10.90, and Single Meat Sizzling Curry is $9.90.

I asked Mr. Adrian Mahendrata, business development manager of Oishii Group Holdings, the reason for their success in becoming one of the top restaurants only within 6 months from its opening. He answered as follows:
“It’s the kind of dining experience you cannot have anywhere else. Customers of Pepper Lunch can enjoy the sizzling sound on the iron plates with their ears, the cooked food with their eyes, and the good taste with their tongues.”

Moreover, according to Adrian, Pepper Lunch in the US has just started by opening the first restaurant, but everywhere in Asia, the name, Pepper Lunch, is already an established brand. In fact, since the first Pepper Lunch was born in Ofuna, Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan in1994, they kept adding overseas restaurants one after another; in Seoul, Korea in 2003, in Taipei, Taiwan, Singapore, and Beijing, China in 2005, and in Indonesia and Australia in 2006. However, from the South Bay area where I live, it takes 45 minutes to drive to Irvine. Despite the good taste and reasonable pricing, a 45-minute drive is still a bit too much. I honestly hope that they would increase the number of restaurants here in California so I can enjoy their food conveniently more close by.


耳、目、舌で楽しむ鉄板料理

ロサンゼルスのダウンタウンから車で南下すること40分の場所に、郊外の住宅街であり学生街でもあるアーバインがある。そこに、ウエストロサンゼルスのソーテルに匹敵するようなアジア系のレストランが集中したモールが存在する。韓国系レストランのほかにも、回転寿司のクラ、カレーのCoCo壱番屋、日本食全般を扱う東京テーブルなど充実した顔ぶれが揃うのが、ダイヤモンドジャンボリー・ショッピングセンターだ。

このセンター内に2018年1月に仲間入りしたのが、「ペッパーランチ」。日本のステーキ専門店「いきなりステーキ」とは姉妹店の関係にある。ペッパーランチは開店半年で、すでにYelpの「ダイヤモンドジャンボリー・ショッピングセンター内の人気トップテン・レストラン」の4位にランクインしている。

ペッパーランチは、日本で体験したことがある。鉄板の上でジュウジュウと音を立てる熱々のステーキが1000円台で食べられるということで、その美味しさだけでなく、リーズナブルな料金も強く印象に残った。

そのペッパーランチのアメリカ1号店がアーバインに出店。手がけるのはカリフォルニアでエリアフランチャイズを展開しているOishii Group Holding LLC。このアーバイン店を皮切りに、州内で多店舗展開を推進していく予定とのことだ。

ペッパーランチは個人的には「ステーキレストラン」だと受け止めていたが、オフィシャルには鉄板料理のレストランという位置付けらしい。ステーキはもちろん、韓国の石焼ビビンバを思わせるペッパーライス、カレー、照り焼きハンバーグやサーモンなど、すべての料理が鉄板の上に乗せられ、熱々(sizzling)の状態でサーブされる。

レストランの雰囲気は日本同様にカジュアルだ。顧客はテーブルではなく、カウンターで注文する、ファストフードスタイル。アメリカには古くからシズラーのようにステーキでも同様の方式を取っている店があるため、違和感はない。その分、人件費を抑えることができ、リーズナブルな料金を実現できるということだろう。ちなみにリブアイステーキは6ozで18ドル50セント、ダブルハンバーグ・コンボデラックスは付け合わせの野菜にハンバーグステーキが2個で10ドル90セント、シングルミート・シズリング・カレーは9ドル90セント。

Oishii Group Holding社のビジネスディベロップメントマネジャーのエイドリアン・マヘンドラータ(Adrian Mahendrata)さんに、開店半年で人気レストランに上り詰めた理由は何だと思うか、と改めて聞いたところ、次のように答えた。

「他では得られないような新鮮なダイニング体験が得られること。ペッパーランチの顧客は、鉄板の上のジュウジュウという音を耳で楽しみ、料理を目で楽しみ、そして美味しさを舌で楽しむことができます」

さらに、エイドリアンさんによると、アメリカでは1号店を開けたばかりのペッパーランチだが、アジア各地においては、すでにその名前は確立されたブランドだという。実際、ペッパーランチは1994年に日本の神奈川県大船に誕生した後、2003年には韓国ソウルに、2005年には台湾の台北、シンガポール、中国の北京に、2006年にはインドネシアとオーストラリアにと、続々と海外での店舗を増やしてきた。ここアーバイン店は私の生活圏内のサウスベイからは車で45分かかる。いくら美味しくてリーズナブルな料金だとはいえ、45分運転するのは厳しい。ここカリフォルニアでもできるだけ店舗数を増やして、近くで便利に楽しめるようにしてほしい、というのが率直な要望だ。



Pepper Lunch
Diamond Jamboree Shopping Center
2750 Alton Parkway, STE101
Irvine, CA 92606
(949)387-6290
11:00am-10:00pm
7days Open
http://ca.pepperlunch.us/
#alljapannews #teppan #Japanese #cooking #CA #PepperLunch #hamburg

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