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What is the secret of the $3.90 menus?

What is the secret of the $3.9... What is the secret of the $3.9... What is the secret of the $3.9... What is the secret of the $3.9... What is the secret of the $3.9... What is the secret of the $3.9...
Every menu item is $3.90! What is the secret for the success of running the reasonably-priced and delicious izakaya?

By Aya Ota
There is a restaurant which is rapidly becoming a topic of conversation. They offer every food and drink for one price of $3.90, and do not take tips. The name of the restaurant is “Thank You Sakaba Acchan”, which started just recently in February of this year in the midtown east district that is the center of the business district of Manhattan.

“Although the location is pretty close to the Grand Central Station, even one block away makes a difference in attracting customers. It is necessary to do something different so people would talk about it in order to be appealing to more customers,” says Mr. Taiki Wakayama, the President of the “W&E Hospitality Group” who runs about 15 restaurants in New York.

The W&E Group opened “Teriyaki Boy” in March, 2015, exactly one year ago, where you can take out bento bowls for lunch time, and becomes a standing-room-only drinking place after 5pm. The joint was doing well due to its casual atmosphere and excellent menu that includes yakitori made with selective jidori chickens, delicious izakaya style food items, and sake. However, the standing-room-only style bar was not quite welcomed by some customers, especially among Japanese business people in the area. After some trial-and error period, they made a big change. The place remained as “Teriyaki Boy” for lunch time, and renewed as “Thank You Sakaba Acchan” for the evening time. This new simple and reasonable “no tip, everything is priced at $3.90” concept with widely varied and delicious food items seems to be working well since its new start. Its fashionable interior may also be contributing to collecting many lady customers unexpectedly.

The reason for being able to keep the price low from the standing-room- only style bar period without compromising the quality or quantity of the food is as follows: first is the interior space and layout of only about 20 seats, which can be seen from the open kitchen for the staff to keep their eyes on the customers. There are only 3 employees working for the whole place. The labor cost is kept low by the cooks working as servers as well.

The menu is also very well thought to keep the cost low. The staff goes out and get the selective ingredients by themselves as much as possible. They also try to add menu items that can be cooked in short time for the efficiency of operation by effectively use the natural flavors of the ingredients in the dishes such as “One Pound Chicken Thigh”, “Addictive Salty Cabbage”, “Cold Tofu Tower”, and “Onion Salad” to the others that take time and more care to cook such as “Beef Intestine Stew”.

This better use of time does not affect the taste or quality. It is surprising that they still manage to offer over 30 different dishes plus 5 to 7 daily specials. Another reason for the efficiency is that they take cash only for the payment.

The open hours have been extended to 4 am., which resulted an increase of customers that includes people in the same industry who drop by on the way home. Right now they have 2 rotations with maximum capacity each time, but their goal is 4 rotations a day. It is a splendid operational tactic to fully take advantage of the location as the midtown where many people hang out 24 hours a day.

“W&E Hospitality Group” is currently running 15 casual Japanese restaurants with the concept of “An American eatery where 20 dollars is worth 100 dollars”. Mr. Taiki Wakayama succeeded his father, Kazuo to become the second President 4 years ago. After graduating a college, he was once employed by a stock trading company in Japan, but he wanted to go back to his original desire to run a restaurant someday by utilizing the background and experiences he had growing up. After building up the experience working as store manager for 3 years in the West Co., Ltd. In Japan, he came to the United States, and has been energetically running the 15 US restaurants. He also values relationships among the store managers, and works diversely by starting a study group for them, consulting them, etc.

The name, “Teriyaki Boy” was the name of a beloved bento shop closed 10 years ago, which was taken over by the W & E Hospitality Group, which Mr. Wakayama fondly remembers. He put a lot of special thoughts about this former shop in making the concept of, and how to run “Thank You Sakaba Acchan”.


食べもの・飲みもの全て3.9ドル 均一料金、しかも、チップなしで提供することで、急速に話題になっている店がある。マンハッタンのビジネス街中心地、ミッドタウンイースト地区で2016年2月にスタートしたばかりの『サンキュー酒場あっちゃん』だ。


同社では、ちょうど1年前の2015年3月に、昼食時には丼スタイル弁当のテイクアウトを提供、夜5時から立ち飲みバーとして営業する『テリヤキボーイ』を開店した。厳選した地鶏の焼き鳥をはじめとする居酒屋料理とお酒を気軽に楽しめる店として、評判になったが、日本人ビジネスマンも多い地域柄、“立ち飲み” というスタイルが馴染まなかったと言う。試行錯誤の末、昼食時は『TeriyakiBoy』のまま、夜は『サンキュー酒場あっちゃん』へと、大きくリニューアルしたのだ。「全品3.9ドルでチップなし」というコンセプトのお得さと分かりやすさ、そして、品数も豊富で料理も美味しいということで、新規開店後の評判は上々だと言う。店内の雰囲気がおしゃれなためか、女性客が多いというのも意外性がある。


もちろんメニューにも工夫をしている。食材はできるだけ自分たちで買い出しに行くことで、より厳選した原料をより安価に仕入れている。「モツ煮込み」や焼きものなど、手が込んで時間のかかる料理だけでなく、「鶏モモ一枚焼き」「塩キャベツ」「摩天楼 冷や奴」「オニオン・サラダ」など、素材の持ち味を生かし短時間で調理できるメニューを増やすことで、オペレーション面での効率化も図っているという。効率化は図っていても、決して味やクオリティに妥協していない。メニューは全体で30品以上、日替わりメニューも毎日5 ~ 7品提供しているというので驚かされる。値段を抑える工夫のひとつとしては、会計をキャッシュオンリーにしているのも挙げられる。


『W&Eホスピタリティグループ』では「20ドルで100ドルの価値を生み出したい」というコンセプトで、“アメリカの食堂” とも言えるような、カジュアルな日本食店を約15店舗運営している。若山大木氏は、父・和夫氏の跡を継いで二代目社長となって約4年。大学卒業後、いったんは日本で証券会社に就職したものの、育った環境や自分が培った経験を生かして「飲食店経営をしたい」という原点に立ち戻った。そして、日本の株式会社ウェストの飲食店で3年間店長を務め経験を積み、アメリカに戻って、15店舗の運営に奮闘する日々を送っている。飲食店経営者の横のつながりも大事にし、勉強会を立ち上げたり、コンサルティング業をこなしたり…と、業務は多岐にわたる。

『Teriyaki Boy』は同グループが惜しまれながらも10年前に閉店した弁当屋の名称を受け継いだもので、若山氏にとっても愛着がある。『サンキュー酒場あっちゃん』のコンセプト作りやマネジメントにも、格別な思い入れを持って取り組んでいる。

Thank You Sakaba Acchan
835 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Tel: 917-388-2039
Monday thru Saturday 5pm-4am
(They are open between 11:30 am and 2 pm as “Teriyaki Boy”.)
#alljapannews #japaneserestaurant #izakaya #teriyaki

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New flavor added to taste of traditional

“Omakase Sushi”... “Omakase Sushi” is $28.99 including salad, pot steamed egg custard and dessert. Mr. Tani with 40-years of exp... Mr. Tani with 40-years of experience as a chef in the center with the current owner, Ms. Kobayashi (left) and the sushi chef, Ms. Obara “Irifune” is lo... “Irifune” is located in a mall in old downtown Torrance close to Honda Motors headquarters “Irifune Specia... “Irifune Special zen”, a set menu that includes Aradaki (simmered red snapper) and Sashimi
New flavor added to taste of traditional cuisine

Nowadays, you can taste all kinds of Japanese food including sushi, tempura, and ramen in the U.S. It seems like the Japanese food boom has peaked, and almost every type of Japanese food you can think of can be acquired now. On the other hand, however, the number of restaurants where genuinely authentic Japanese cooking - the kind of dishes that you can get at long established Japanese restaurants in Japan – is served, is still very limited.

I did not know about “Kappo Irifune,” which opened in a mall in Torrance, of the Los Angeles suburb in March of 2015 until early autumn of the same year. A few of my gourmet friends sent me the photo of the dishes they had at Irifune through LINE. I hate to say, but as far as I remember, none of the predecessors at that location had successfully kept their business for very long. I got very curious to know how good they really are since those friends of mine are trustworthy in judging the taste of food. I decided to try, and one day, visited Irifune. I ordered fried shrimp lunch combination dish. It was so good, and made me feel like trying other dishes. First of all, the miso soup prepared with solid dashi taste was impressive. The shrimp was light and crunchy, the rice was shiny, and the salad dressing tasted like an original. I felt like I had discovered rare genuine Japanese cooking that you can always rely on.

The current owner of Irifune, Ms. Tomoko Kobayashi told me at a later date that the restaurant was originally opened in last March by Mr. Teruhisa Tani who ran a Japanese food restaurant for 25 years in Kumamoto, Japan, and overall has 40-years of experience in cooking. He immigrated to the U.S. and opened this “Kappo Irifune” in Torrance because his daughter lives here. He faithfully replicated the authentic taste here in the States that he had developed in his 40-year career.

Unfortunately, he had to decide to go back to Japan due to health reasons, and was looking for someone who could succeed his business. Ms. Kobayashi who was a regular customer of Irifune then raised her hand. Ms. Kobayashi who had experience working in various service industries in Japan, came to the U.S., got trained and worked as a sushi chef in a sushi restaurant on Ventura Blvd where many people in the entertainment industry were the customers. After that, she worked as a coordinator in the film industry, and also a consultant for Japanese enterprises who wanted to start a business in the States. After that, she went back to the food and beverage industry as a consultant. When she was a regular customer at Irifune last year, she was working as a manager of a Japanese restaurant in Gardena. She really wanted to keep the taste of Irifune which had become her latest favorite. She learned the secret recipe from Mr. Tani, and kept everything else as well; the restaurant name, menu, and pricing in order to make a new start. Currently, Mr. Tani who will be leaving for Japan soon and a lady chef with over 10-years of experience, Ms. Miho Obara are taking care of the kitchen, and Ms. Kobayashi is taking care of the customers on the floor. Ms. Kobayashi who is also a restaurant consultant, is gathering data and researching on her own to find out what type of dishes are liked by what type of customers, and what type of customers tend to come back often, etc.

She said, “The most popular dish for lunch time is “Irifune Special Zen” with simmered red snapper. We cannot get many snappers with heads, therefore, we can serve only a limited number of 10 to 15. This menu sells out very quickly every day. Its sweet taste seems to be well liked, especially by Chinese customers.”

The “Irifune Special Zen” that includes Sashimi, Aradaki, a small bowl of a seasonal dish, rice, miso soup, salad, and dessert is priced at $12.80. Popular dishes for dinner time are “Sashimi Gozen” and Chirashi Gozen which are both priced at $18.80, which is very reasonable for both the quality and the quantity. Another item called “Omakase Sushi” that includes 12 pieces of sushi, salad, pot steamed egg custard and dessert is only $28.99 which could have been priced easily below cost.

While keeping the traditional Japanese cooking taste from the previous owner, Mr. Tani, Ms. Kobayashi also hold new ideas. She says, “First, I am planning to add yakitori and oden to the menu around next spring. By doing so, customers can enjoy Izakaya style dining as well. In addition, I am going to add Japanese desserts to gain more female customers.”

I believe that “Irifune”, growing with new ideas based on the solid foundation of Japanese cooking, will be surely known more and more in the community as a secret great place to eat in Torrance.










Kappo Irifune
1231 Cabrillo Ave. Ste 107 Torrance, CA 90501
(310) 782-7330
Mon.-Sun./ 11:30am-2:30pm 5:30pm-10:00pm 7 days open

#alljapannews #japaneserestaurant #losangeles #sushi

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Restaurant “Blow Fish, ”

Restaurant “Blo... Restaurant “Blo... Restaurant “Blo...
Restaurant “Blow Fish, ” a leader of popular Japanese cuisine, expands by opening ramen shops

This year, restaurant “Blow Fish” that garnered attention for their innovative full-bar and fusion sushi with Japanese pop culture as the theme, celebrates 20 years in business. This trendy style created a huge fad that captured the hearts of young customers, and the restaurant expanded with branches overseas starting with San Francisco, then inside “Santana raw” in the new commercial building in San Jose, to Los Angeles and New Zealand. Since opening, the restaurant continues to enjoy a stable operation. The “Pop-up” ramen shop that opened two years ago was another mega hit. And last October, another ramen shop opened in the Lower Haight district of San Francisco. Soon after opening, word spread through current fans using SNS, etc., with the restaurant filled to capacity day-after-day, with customers waiting an average of one hour. “IZA” is a popular ramen shop bursting with originality.

Owners Ritsuo Tsuchida and Jason Teplitsky each capitalize on their respective strengths to create an era of popular Japanese cuisine. Tsuchida first gained experience preparing Japanese cuisine in Japan before immigrating to the U.S. in the early 1990s. At the time of Tsuchida’s arrival, Japanese cuisine in San Francisco consisted mainly of sushi, and the term “fusion” cuisine was not yet used. At the time, Tsuchida was working at Japanese restaurant “Okazu Ya” in the Sunset district, while developing his original Californian-style sushi menu on his own. Tsuchida soon met his current business partner and was approached in 1996 with plans to open restaurant “Blow Fish.”

On the day business plans were presented, investors who sampled Tsuchida’s menu selections highly praised Tsuchida as the “leader of a new era.” The chef’s original creative menu, referred to today as “fusion” sushi, incorporates elements from Italian and Californian cuisine, etc. Investors saw future potential in Tsuchida’s culinary sensibilities and business plans, which led to the opening of Blow Fish, where Tsuchida is the chef and also responsible for creating the menu, training staff, and overseeing the appearance of the dining space. On the other hand, Teplitsky is in charge of the business-side, such as business administration and management. Twenty years into this partnership, the two partners are still working together to create an era of new Japanese cuisine.

The two owners have planned to open “IZA” since two years ago. However, the duo faced challenges when searching for properties, so until preparations were complete, “IZA Ramen” operated as a pop-up ramen shop at “Blow Fish” only during weekend lunch hours. Since garnering popularity leads to the opening of a restaurant as the general rule, fans were already established even before the IZA opened, eagerly anticipated by customers who looked forward to enjoying IZA’s ramen on evenings also. The Low Haight location is surrounded by hip bars, cafes, and specialty stores, ideal for young customers who frequent IZA.

IZA’s seating capacity is 50 customers. The large kitchen space is lined with tall pots used to prepare soup for ramen, where five employees work busily. The interior dining space is casually adorned with a casual ambiance and low lighting to suit the dinner hours. The restaurant renovation was done minimally and completed by staff in only a few weeks to avoid hiring vendors, which would prolong construction and delay the grand opening. This was an efficient solution since delay in construction is an everyday occurrence here in the U.S.

The four ramen selections are “IZA tsukemen” (dipping noodles), “IZA ramen,” and a spicy version of both. American consumers especially tend to prefer spicy ramen. The soup for both ramen is rich pork bone soup, flavored with soy sauce. The original soup stock is prepared with seafood soup as the base with chicken parts, several vegetables, etc. added and simmered for eight hours until completion. Garlic puree boiled in milk, roasted garlic, and “Ma-yu” (black roasted garlic oil), etc., were added to create three different types of specialty soups with enhanced richness to create your own preferred style of “ramen.” The thick, wavy noodles are highly compatible with the rich soup!

“I want to develop my own soup that combines well with the noodles, and serve ramen that I’m convinced is delicious,” said Tsuchida, who also loves “tsukemen” (dipping noodles) and strives to make this dish widespread in the U.S. Also, the menu selections include appetizers for customers who may not prefer ramen, such as the original “karaage” (seasoned fried chicken), salmon with tartar sauce, Hawaiian “kanpachi” greater amberjack carpaccio, and other “fusion” menu selections that radiates chef Tsuchida’s talents!

As the ramen boom soon reaches a peak, will “tsukemen” (dipping noodles) become widespread in the U.S.? Despite just having opened a new restaurant, co-owners Tsuchida and Teplitsky are already planning to open another one. The very next boom the two will likely generate is highly anticipated!

ポップな日本食をリードする「Blow Fish」が展開するラーメン店

日本のポップカルチャーをテーマに、フルバー、フュージョン寿司という斬新なコンセプトで一世を風靡した「Blowfish」は、今年で開店20周年を迎える。そのトレンディなスタイルは、大ブームを巻き起こし、若者の心をつかんだ。サンフランシスコに続き、2000年前半にかけては、サンノゼの新商業施設「Santana raw」内、ロサンゼルス、そしてニュージランドの海外店舗まで展開させた。当時の勢いから、近年は安定した経営を続けているが、2年前に始めたラーメンのポップアップが再び大ヒット。そして去年10月、ついに単独店舗をローワーヘイト地区にオープンした。開店間もなく、すでに既存するファンと共にSNSなどで人気は広がり、連日超満員で平均1時間待ちを余儀なくされる。「IZA」はオリジナリティ溢れる人気のラーメン店だ。

経営者の土田理津男氏とジェイソン・テプリスキー氏は、それぞれの得意分野を活かし、ポップな日本食の時代を作り上げてきた。土田氏は、日本で和食の基礎を習得した後、90年初頭に渡米。その当時、サンフランシスコで日本食といえばまだ寿司が中心で、「フュージョン」という言葉さえなかった。同氏はサンセット地区にある「Okazu Ya」 という日本食店で働きながら、カリフォルニアスタイルの寿司メニューを開発していた。そこで今のビジネスパートナーと出会い、96年に「Blow Fish」をオープンする計画を持ちかけられた。その事業計画を披露する日に集まったインベスター達に土屋氏が振る舞ったサンプルメニューは、「時代の先取り」と絶賛された。その創作メニューは、今で言う「フージョン」だ。イタリアンやカリフォルニアを取り入れた創造的な寿司、一品料理に投資家たちは、同氏の料理のセンスに事業の未来の確信を持ち、開店に至った。土田氏は現在もシェフとして、メニュー考案や従業員の教育、店作りを担当し、テプリンスキー氏は、経営、マネージメントなどビジネス面を担当している。このパートナーの二人三脚は20年経過してもなお、新しい日本食のトレンドを築こうとしている。

二人は2年前から「IZA」の独立した店舗を計画していたが、物件探しに困難が生じ、準備が整うまでの間、「Blowfish」で週末昼のみ「IZA ramen」ポップアップとして営業していた。そこで人気を得てから、単独店を持つという流れになっているので、開店前からすでにファンは付いていた。彼らは夜も「IZA」でラーメンが食べれる環境を待っていたようだ。ローワーヘイトの場所もポップなバーやカフェ、スペシャリティーストアが多く、若者の支持が多い同店にとって理想的だ。客席数は50席。大きなキッチンスぺースには、ラーメンのスープを作る寸胴鍋が並び、5人の従業員が忙しそうに動いている。内装はカジュアルでゆったりとして、照明を落とし夜の雰囲気を出している。店の改装は、わずか数週間で従業員のみで行ったという。その理由について、業者が入ると工事が長引き開店が遅くなるので、最低限の改装で店を開店させた方が良いという考え方だ。実際に工事の遅れはアメリカでは日常茶飯事なので、非常に効率的だ。



IZA Ramen
237 Fillmore St. San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 926-8173
Wed.- Mon./ 5:00pm-10:00pm Tuesday closed
#alljapannews #japaneserestaurant #ramen #sanfrancisco

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Stylishly arranged Japanese Izakaya

Front: Tuna Tarts ($15) (fron... Front: Tuna Tarts ($15) (front) Back: Buttermilk Karaage ($9)
Ramen Salad ($8)
Braised Belly Bun ($8)
Seabass Skewers ($13.5)
Stylishly arranged Japanese Iz... General Manager, Justin Gonza... General Manager, Justin Gonzalez
Cherry Special Rolls: Spicy Tuna, Bacon Caesar, Crispy Shrimp
Stylishly arranged Japanese Izakaya

Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York, is known for the highest fashion sense in town.More and more unique boutiques and cafes are opening up one after another, and you find something new every time you go there. While you walk down the street of Williamsburg, an extraordinary stylish façade draws your attention. The sign says “Cherry Izakaya”. When you push open its door to step into the space, you see a place so sophisticated and in good taste, that it gives an impression so far away from what you would normally think of from the word “Japanese Izakaya”.

“I modernized the concept of the Japanese Izakaya that inspired me originally. I would like the customers to enjoy food and sake in their own unique individual way in a warm and relaxing atmosphere”, says Mr. Justin Gonzales, the General Manager of this place. He has worked in various Japanese restaurants in the past, knows Japanese food culture very well, and is passionate about making it known to the world. Some customers are still not familiar with Izakya ordering style, in which you order items one by one at your own preferred timing, and dishes are shared by everybody at the table. This unique Izakaya way is explained to each of such customers by the staff because they believe in good hospitality and communication.

The executive chef, John Keller, who has worked for various well-known restaurants including “Nobu”, created a menu that covers a wide range of dishes from some creative dishes with Japan’s unique ingredients and cooking styles, to typical American dishes such as steaks and hamburgers. Their Izakaya style menu items are divided into categories such as “Starters”, “Appetizers”, “Mains”, “Ramen”, “Sushi”, etc. to make it easy for the customers to make selections.

The most popular dish is the “Tuna Tarts” ($15) which is served with fresh and radiant thinly sliced tuna on a savory baked tart dough. What makes it so good is the creamy ponzu sauce and truffle oil, which is a creative combination Japanese people may usually don’t think of. Other dishes such as “Ramen Salad” ($8) with enjoyable texture of crispy fried noodle, “Braised Pork Belly Bun” ($8) with pork belly cooked so tender it melts in your mouth, ($8), and “Seabass Skewers” ($13.5) dressed perfectly with sweet miso sauce may also surprise you with their unique combination of ingredients and presentation. One striking item is the “Bacon Caesar Roll” with smoked bacon, kale and avocado. Every dish presents an excellent combination of ingredients without being too unapproachable.

The Brunch menu is also important to this place, and items are named to stir people’s curiosity such as “Tuna Crispy Rice Benedict” and “Breakfast Ramen”.

They have placed extra effort in attracting crowds since the location is not facing the main street of Williamsburg, and is a bit hidden. You need to turn into a smaller street, so it is not easy to spot the place unless you are specifically looking for it. So, mainly advertising through social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, they offer two special deals, “Ramen Mondays” and “Sake Sundays”. Their online delivery service is rapidly gaining popularity, which is also resulting in bringing more customers to the restaurant.

The stylish interior is also worth seeing. They won third prize for the 10 best designed restaurants in America in Dwell Magazine last year. It creates a sophisticated yet comforting space, decorated in a motif of Japanese traditional paintings and buildings.

I believe that “Cherry Izakaya” which contributes to the introduction of more and more Japanese food culture one after another, will subvert the image of the traditional Izakaya that most Japanese people have, in a nice way.

今、ニューヨークで最も流行感度が高いと言われるブルックリンのウィリアムズバーグ地区。個性的なブティックやカフェが次々と登場し、訪れる度に新しい発見が感じられる街を歩くと、ひときわスタイリッシュな外観に目を奪われる。『Cherry Izakaya』――扉を押して足を踏み入れると、日本の“居酒屋”という言葉から連想される庶民的なイメージとは全く異なる、都会的でセンスのよい空間が広がっている。

「日本の“居酒屋”のコンセプトからインスピレーションを受け、モダンにアレンジした。心温まるリラックスした雰囲気で、それぞれのスタイルで料理やお酒を楽しんでもらいたい」と話すのはジェネラル・マネジャー のジャスティン・ゴンザレス氏。過去に数々の日本食店で経験を積み、日本の食文化に精通し、それを伝えることに意欲的な人物だ。訪れる客の中には、好きな料理を好きなタイミングで注文したり、ひとつの料理を分け合ったりする、居酒屋独特のスタイルに慣れていない人もいるが、ホスピタリティとコミュニケーションを大切に、ひとりひとりの客に丁寧に説明する。





スタイリッシュな内装も一見の価値がある。昨年、『Dwell Magazine』誌が選ぶ「アメリカのベスト・デザイン・レストランの第三位にも選ばれている。日本の伝統的な絵画や建築をモチーフに使い、洗練されつつも温かさのある空間だ。

ウィリアムズバーグ地区で、新しい日本食文化を次々発信してくれる『Cherry Izakaya』。日本人が描く“居酒屋”のイメージやメニューを気持ちよく覆してくれる店だ。

Cherry Izakaya
138 N 8th Street Brooklyn, NY 11249
Tel: 347-889-6300
Dinner Sun.- Wed. / 5:30pm- 10:00pm Thurs. / 5:30pm- 11:00pm Fri.- Sat. / 5:30pm- midnight
Brunch Sun. / 11:30am- 4:00pm
#alljapannews #japaneserestaurant #newyork #izakaya

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How to Enjoy the New Brew Sake

How to Enjoy the New Brew S... How to Enjoy the New Brew S... How to Enjoy the New Brew S...
Kosuke Kuji
Fifth Generation / Brewery Owner
Nanbu Bijin, Inc.

Born May 11, 1972. Entered Tokyo University of Agriculture’s Department of Brewing and Fermentation. In 2005 became the youngest person ever to receive the Iwate Prefecture Young Distinguished Technician Award. In 2006 was selected to be a member of the board of trustees of his local alma mater, Fukuoka High School. Currently is featured in a number of media outlets including magazines, radio, and television.
*Positions of Public Service: Chairperson, Cassiopeia Corporation Youth Conference; School Board Member, Fukuoka High School, Iwate Prefecture, Vice-Chairman, Technology Committee, Iwate Prefecture Brewers and Distillers’ Association

by Kosuke Kuji

All-out sake brewing for this year has finally started. There is a warm winter trend this year which is causing slight difficulty in sake brewery, but no need to worry because breweries are well equipment with refrigerating facilities.

Well, there are a lot of new brews of sake being produced this season. What we would like to enjoy this season are the “new brews of sake.” Especially the sakes called “freshly pressed.” The new brews that are just pressed have an exceptional taste and the fine taste is doubled due to most of them not being pasteurized and produced in the draft state. All breweries are selling freshly pressed draft sake all at once exactly at this time so the Japanese sake markets rise to heights like it is a fresh brew festival.

New brew is freshly pressed and just created and quite fresh and fruity compared to normally sold sake. Also, since it is hardly aged it has a light taste and it seems very easy to drink.

New brew tastes good alone, but it will taste even better if you have it with seasonal side dishes with items like ‘sansai’ (edible wild plants) or ‘bamboo shoots’ etc that will be available soon that make you feel it’s springtime. What I suggest is by definitely enjoying sansai with new brew sake, the unique delicate bitterness of sansai matches with the freshness of the new brew, and the special sweetness and goodness of draft sake which is the slight sweetness it has compared to pasteurized sake matches well with sansai. Sansai is good as tempura or ‘ohitashi’ [boiled with katsuobushi (dried bonito) & soy sauce dressing]. I sincerely hope that you will enjoy them together.

Nanbu Bijin is also selling their new draft brew of “Tokubetsu Junmai” in the U.S. I don’t know if you can find any sansai but we would be most grateful if you can also enjoy new brew of Nanbu Bijin with side tastes that make you feel the season.
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Food and Japanese sake pairing

Food and Japanese sake pairing Food and Japanese sake pairing
Yuji Matsumoto
Master Sake Sommelier

Finalist of the 2nd World Sake Sommelier Competition. Graduated from Keio University Faculty of Law, Department of Political Science. Worked for Nomura Securities for 10 years. Former president of California Sushi Academy Former chief of planning dept. at Mutual Trading. Currently working for Kabuki Restaurant Corp. as a Beverage Manager of Sake.

by Yuji Matsumoto

Especially when it comes to pairing Japanese sake with food, many people likely think, "What's with the exaggeration…? It doesn't really matter."

However, the reality is we often pair many foods with beverages subconsciously. For example, Japanese confections after a meal are often paired with green tea or coffee, while hamburger meat is often enjoyed with soda, fried foods with beer, and Oreo cookies with milk are great examples of such everyday pairings.

In this issue, I'd like to pass on to our readers a trick that enhances one's abilities to pair sake with food.

First, please select three brands of sake with very different properties. The differences in properties are hard to tell without drinking the sake, but first, let's select the sake according to the information listed on each label.

For example, please select a Junmai Daiginjo, Tokubestu Junmai, and Junmai Kimoto, all produced in different regions like Akita, Niigata, and Hyogo prefectures, etc. Sake produced in the U.S. are reasonably priced, for including a few of these brands in the mix may also be fun.

Once we have the sake, please grab some wine glasses (white wine glasses are better). Please be sure to use the same shaped glass for each of the three sake brands. It's best to store the glasses in the refrigerator for approximately 3 hours and to maintain their temperature at 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

And now, for the cuisine. Those who have time can prepare the food yourself, of course. However, I recommend takeout for those who want to compare the sake with many dishes from various types of cuisine. There’s no need to stick with Japanese cuisine, for it’s fun to also pair sake with Chinese and Italian (please avoid excessively spicy or strong garlic-flavored dishes) cuisines.

Please be careful to compare the balance between the sake and the food upon consumption, the changes detected in the umami flavors, and any changes in the aroma particular to that food, and aftertaste. If these factors in the pairing are satisfying, then it’s safe to say the pairing was a "success."
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