Delage Delage Delage Delage Delage Delage
Kappo Omakase-style California fusion restaurant

By Elli Sekine 

In the past few years, the food culture of the Auckland area has been changing dramatically. Along with the rising popularity of the farmer’s market in Jack London Square, the awareness of local production for local consumption is growing, and the chefs from “Chez Panisse” in the neighbor town, Berkeley, where California cuisine was born, started to open restaurants in Auckland one after another. People in the area now talk about gourmet foods all the time, and such a food-business-friendly environment has made young food business entrepreneurs very diverse in their businesses from casual and unique eateries, to food trucks and catering. You can catch a glimpse of the trend in the food culture everywhere in town. The market/food court, “SWAN” was renewed 4 years ago, and became a casual dining food court where some well-known chefs participated in serving their food there, which gathered much attention. It has become one of Auckland’s hot spots nowadays. “Delage” in SWAN is the second restaurant of “AS B-Dama” which has been there since the opening. Although it still has tenant status in the food court, “Delage” opened as an individual restaurant in April of 2016, and is gaining popularity as a casual omakase style restaurant.

The concept by the owner/chef Tsutomu Ono, “Quality & Casual”, has finely seized the local fans. After gaining the experience of working as a chef in the South Bay area for a long time in a Japanese restaurant, Mr. Ono launched a small place for bento and a-la-carte dishes in Auckland called “Geta”.

Later, he achieved success with a bento dine-in place called “B-Dama”, which led to becoming a tenant in “SWAN”, and changed the name to “AS B-Dama”.

Supported by passionate local fans, “Delage” was opened within the same property as an individual restaurant this time. It is the first omakase-style Japanese restaurant run by Japanese in Auckland. The opening of this restaurant which aims for “high-end with the casual ambience of Auckland” attracted a lot of attention with the attendance of Masaki Sasaki who has led two restaurants to their Michelin-star ranks. Moreover, the reasonable pricing at $65 for an upscale 8-course meal cannot be seen anywhere else.

The wood-based interior feels warm and relaxed, and the displayed old vinyl records, cassette tape players, etc. creates a nostalgic ambience. Including some which are rare finds among collectors, a hand-crafted warm feeling in an independent restaurant is presented.

The menu is unique with added Californian and French techniques. The dishes for the day started and continued with California style organic cherry tomato salad, Miyazaki wagyu beef on a salt block, smoked salmon, omakase nigiri-sushi, chilled cauliflower soup, and warm vegetables with sesame-ponzu sauce. The presentation of Californian kappo with the combination of vegetables, duck, other meat, and sushi on the stylish ceramic ware evokes excitement. The concept of local production for local consumption is enforced by the way they buy the food ingredients, from the fish and farmer’s markets by the owner himself as well as for “AS B-Dama”.

“Delage” is now in its second phase. Kaoru Ishii, the sushi chef, and Mikiko Ando, the kitchen chef have succeeded Mr. Sasaki, the opening chef. Mr. Ishii is a veteran chef with 42-years of experience. He has worked in an Italian restaurant, and a robata grill restaurant in Japan, “Matsuhisa” in LA, and “Sushi Ran” in Sausalito. Ms. Ando has worked in San Francisco area restaurants as a sushi chef at “Sushi Chardonnay”, “Yuzu”, and “Delica”. She passionately said that she would love to keep offering a creative menu using a lot of local vegetables.

As for the drink menu, they offer a wide variety of beer, wine, and sake. There is an extensive list of Japanese local sake brands, which makes for a popular paring with the food. For the beer selection, in addition to some brands, a draft beer is poured from installed barrels imported from Japan. In the summer time, you can enjoy drinks in the outdoor garden setting.

Compared to San Francisco, there are fewer Michelin class high-end restaurants in Auckland. However, casual gourmet style is settled in, and people in the East Bay are very picky in taste and value consciousness. “Delage” is well liked in such an environment as a restaurant where people can experience high-end Japanese cuisine in a casual manner.


ここ数年、オークランドの外食シーンが大きく変化している。Jack London Squareのファーマーズマーケットの人気と共に地産地消の意識が広がり、“リアルフード”を求める人口が増えている。さらに隣町、バークレーのカリフォルニア料理発祥の店、「シェ・パニーズ」出身のシェフ達が続々オークランドに店舗を持ち始め、グルメの話題が尽きない。また、食ビジネスが起業しやすい市による環境作りで、若い食起業家によるカジュアルで個性的な店やフードトラック、ケータリングなどビジネスも多様化し、街の至る所で食のトレンドを垣間見る事ができる。4年前、リニューアルされた食マーケット&フードコート「SWAN」は、有名シェフも参加するB級グルメのフードコートで話題を呼び、今ではオークランドのホットスポットになっている。「Delage」は、同テナントとしてオープニングから出店していた「AS B-Dama」に続く第2号店となる。2016年4月の開店以来、カジュアルなオマカセ店として人気を集めている。

オーナーシェフの小野力氏が持つコンセプト、“クオリティ&カッジュアル”は見事に地元のファンを掴んだ。同氏は、長年サウスベイで日本食レストランにシェフとして勤めた後、オークランドで小さな惣菜と弁当の「Geta」を起業、 その後、弁当を中心としたイートイン、「B−Dama 」の成功で、「SWAN」にテナントとし移動し、「As B-Dama 」に改名。今回、地元の熱い声援に応え、同じ敷地内、独立店舗として「Delage」のオープンに至った。オークランドで日本人経営者によるオマカセ専門店は初めて。「オークランドの気さくな雰囲気を取り入れたハイエンド」を目指した同店の立ち上げには、2軒のレストランをミシュラン星に導いた佐々木正樹氏が加わり話題を集めた。しかも、グレードアップした8コースが$65と他店では見られない良心的な料金設定だ。


メニューはカリフォルニアとフレンチ技術が加わった独特のスタイル。その日のメニューは、カリフォルニア風オーガニックのチェリートマトサラダ、塩ブロックの上に盛り付けた宮崎ビーフと軽く燻製されたサーモン、オマカセ握り寿司、カリフラワー冷静スープ、温野菜の胡麻ポン酢和えと続く。このように野菜、鴨、肉、魚、野菜、寿司を組み合わせたカリフォルニア風割烹とデザインされた陶器とのプレゼンテーションはワクワクする内容だ。食材は「AS B−Dama」と同様、魚市場やファーマーズマーケットにオーナー自ら出向くなど極力地産地消を心がけている。

「Delage」は、現在2期目を迎えている。オープニングシェフの佐々木氏からバトンを受け取ったのは、寿司シェフの石井薫氏とキッチンシェフの安藤美樹子氏だ。石井氏はシェフ歴42年のベテランで、日本ではイタリアンや炉端店、米国では、Los Angeles の「Matsuhisa」, Sausalitoの「Sushi Ran」 でシェフを務めた。

一方、安藤氏は、サンフランシスコ地区で「Sushi Chardonnay」、「Yuzu」、「Delica」 での寿司シェフを勤めている。安藤氏は、「地元の野菜をたっぷり使った創造的なメニューを作りたい」と意気込んでいた。


オークランドのレストランは、サンフランシスコと比較すると高級店は少ないが、カジュアルグルメが浸透しており、イーストベイの客は味にうるさくとバリューに敏感だ。 そんな中「Delage」は、ハイエンドな日本食が気軽に体験できるレストランとして地域に愛されてる。

536 9th St.
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 823-2050
Tues.-Thurs./ 5:30pm-9:30pm
#alljapannews #japanese #delage #sanfrancisco #fusion #restaurant


Pointers for Selling Japanese Sake in 2017

By Yuji Matsumoto

Happy New Year!  I plan to work hard again this year to provide information that will help make Japanese sake an even more familiar alcoholic drink to have during a meal for your customers and for you.

For this issue I have put together pointers for restaurants and retail stores to sell Japanese sake and also important points for distributors in differentiation.
-- Grasp what customers like and offer the appropriate Japanese sake.
 You will be able to do this by asking customers what type of alcohol and favorite wine(s) they drink regularly.  For instance, for someone who likes bourbon, you can offer a junmai type that is prepared in a cask etc. 
-- For the Japanese sake menu, instead of dividing it into specific class sakes (Daiginjo, Ginjo, Honjozo etc), divide it into taste types and food(s) it matches with.
It is not ideal to have a menu with specific names that do not describe the taste or aroma at all.  It is important to taste test and with your judgment, create a menu that matches the taste of sake with the dish.
-- Offer cross merchandising with seasonal foods that can be used also by retailer stores.
Always point out Japanese sakes that are compatible with the daily dish (food item).
-- The sake cup; it is no exaggeration to say that it is the 'most important thing in drinking' especially for Ginjo types that have aromas.
Unfortunately there are very few "Japanese type" cups that are suitable with Ginjo type Japanese sakes with aroma, but we think it is a good idea to offer the first drink in a small white wine class as a taste testing for the customers.
-- It is important to provide information of beliefs and concerns about sake making in the brewery.
Distributors and head of breweries need to provide more information of their products to differentiate from competitors. Be clear in pointing out the characteristics of your sake and the taste you are aiming for in comparison with other companies and the business market.








#alljapannews #sake


Joy of Sake Tokyo

By Kosuke Kuji
"The U.S. National Sake Appraisal" that has been held every year since 2001 was held again this year. Entries of over 350 sakes are evaluated by 10 judges from Japan and the U.S. After the judging results, a "Gold Award" and a "Silver Award" is given to the top scored sakes, and additionally a "Grand Prize" and "Second Grand Prize" are awarded to the sakes that scored the highest in overall evaluation from the gold awards. 

This year's grand prize and second grand prize are announced on our homepage.

Of those winners, we are excited that our company's Tokubetsu Junmai won the Second Grand Prize in Junmai category.

The award ceremony will be held at "Joy of Sake" in Tokyo.  Also, "Joy of Sake" was held in New York and Honolulu besides Tokyo.

It is a fact that "Joy of Sake" has a very long history, and out of all these cities, this one to be held in Tokyo will be the last gathering.  To be held in November, it is a time when it is getting extremely cold in Japan and it's a very good season to enjoy drinking sake. 

To be held in Gotanda in Tokyo, there is a lot of excitement with lots of Japanese and foreigners living in Japan attending.

There are many different sake gatherings in Japan, but there are probably only a few of them like ours with so many foreigners attending.

This is a meeting where you can find out the trend of sake around the world while you are in Japan.

There are sakes introduced by U.S. breweries recently and you may call this an evaluation meeting of worldwide scale that is very much alive.

It's the same for sake category of International Wine Challenge (IWC), sake is being evaluated in different ways worldwide, not only in Japan, many new people are coming to the meetings to enjoy sake, and I can only help but feel that Japanese sake is becoming the sake of the world.

酒豪大陸「JOY OF SAKE 東京」



この表彰式は、全米日本酒歓評会出品酒を楽しむ会「JOY OF SAKE」の東京で表彰されます。東京以外にも、ニューヨークとホノルルで今年は「JOY OF SAKE」が開催されました。

とても長い歴史を実は持っているこの「JOY OF SAKE」ですが、東京での開催はこれらの都市の中でも最後の開催となります。時期も11月ということで、まさに日本は寒さが厳しくなり、日本酒が恋しい季節に行われます。





#alljapannews #sake #nation #tokyo #okubetsu #Junmai #junmai


Secchu Yokota

Secchu Yokota Secchu Yokota Secchu Yokota Secchu Yokota Secchu Yokota Secchu Yokota
Tempura omakase course offered at a reasonable price in a theater-like setting has quickly become the talk of the town

By Aya Ota

At the east end of the East Village district on Alphabet City which is not really an ideal location, there is a restaurant that has been consistently having a good flow of customers since its opening. It is “Seccu Yokota”. There are 8 counter seats only, and rotations are limited to only 2 per day. They serve a tempura-based omakase tasting course at $65. The restaurant gained popularity very quickly as “A place where you can get a high-quality course meal with many different dishes at a reasonable price”. They do not advertise or even have a sign in front, but they are always busy with customers who come from far away, frequent repeaters who often come monthly, etc.

The owner/chef, Atsushi Yokota, shares how the name of the restaurant came about, as “the principle of Japanese cuisine is wayo-secchu (blend of Japanese and Western style), and so is mine”. He grew up in a circumstance where both his father and the grandfather were chefs, so it was natural to get into the cooking world for Mr. Yokota who developed a delicate palate since childhood. In Japan, he started his cooking career in French cuisine. After coming to U.S. in 1998, he has continued to create imaginative and original wayo-secchu cuisine by working in various different restaurants, and by blending world-wide ingredients and Japanese and Western techniques.

The course starts with two appetizers which are full of seasonal ingredients. Mr. Yokota goes to a farmer’s market himself to procure the food ingredients, comes up with a menu according to what he purchased, and makes everything from scratch. The signature appetizer is the “Oyako Pâté”. This dish was hinted by the “Oyako Donburi” which is a very familiar dish to Japanese people, and served with pâté made from aged sashimi-grade fresh chicken mixed with soft-boiled eggs. This harmony created by the combination of pâté and eggs is superb, and represents the extracted concept of wayo-secchu. Next, you get 7 to 8 different tempura pieces consisting of vegetables and seafood cooked right in front of you. Since the restaurant is not a tempura specialty restaurant, the imagination is unconventional. Sometimes unique tempura where no other restaurant ventures such as of seaweed-marinated flounder, miso-marinated butter fish and others are served. To end the course, a rice or soba dish is usually served, but occasionally, things like tongue stew, lamb chop, curry rice, or meunière are served, which will surely tempt you to visit again. The dessert is ample in volume, and satisfying. The Japanese sake selection changes often with the season, and the volume is generous compared to other restaurants, yet the pricing is lower.

What makes it possible for them to offer such a high-quality course meal at such a reasonable price remains a secret of efficient operations and cost management. Only three staff including Mr. Yokota; 2 chefs and 1 server, works there. They share every task from dish washing to paper-work equally amongst themselves. The number of customers are set, and the menu is omakase style, which minimizes the waste of ingredients. The fixed costs such as labor and food are very well managed. Even the customers need to accept the restaurant’s system. To limit the rotations per day to 2, which starts at 6pm and 8:30pm, the cooking won’t usually start until all 8 seats are filled. If you are late, you may trouble the rest of the people waiting, so every customer needs to be conscious about punctuality. Not only for efficiency in operations, but this rule is also essential to serve temperature and time-sensitive tempura and other cooked food at the best possible timing. The restaurant can accommodate for the allergies of customers, but not for other details such as likes and dislikes in foods. They take reservations only by phone so they won’t miss explaining the system firmly in advance. “It is alright to accept only the kind of customers who love our food, and accept the system.” It sounds a bit too optimistic to me. It is a different attitude, and they are a unique presence in the restaurant industry in New York where you may find many arrogant customers at times. “The customers and the restaurant should be equal. I would like to create a trusting and respectful relationship with the customers,” Mr. Yokoto continues.

“Our restaurant is like a theater where people buy $65-tickets to enjoy a 2-and-a-half hour show.” He is confident that no one can mimic his cooking which is based on indisputable techniques and experiences. I heard that many chefs in the same industry come, and enjoy exchanging information. Please try to go “Secchu Yokota” where you can find something new and be impressed every time.







Secchu Yokota
199 East 3rd Street
New York, NY 10009
Tel: (212) 777-1124

Mon–Thu: 6:00pm–11:00pm
Fri-Sat: 6:00pm-12:00am
Closed on Sunday
#alljapannews #tempura #secchu #yokota #newyork


Sushi Sasabune Express

Sushi Sasabune Express Sushi Sasabune Express
Small, but shining restaurant in a high-class neighborhood

By Keiko Fukuda

Pacific Palisades is an upper-class residential town sandwiched between the mountains and the sea located about a 10 minute-drive north from Santa Monica towards Malibu. Many residents are in the entertainment industry. The midtown of this small town includes only a few blocks along Sunset Blvd. The restaurant, “Sasabune Express” is located in this central area, and is the only Japanese restaurant there.

The name, “Sasabune” must sound familiar to you if you are a sushi connoisseur of Los Angeles. In the 1990s, Sasabune in the Sawtelle area was the talk of the town because people used to make a long line outside of the restaurant waiting to get in. Yes, it is that Sasabune. The warm sushi rice served with big toppings were very refreshing and innovative. The Pacific Palisades location opened about 10 years ago as a set-up branch by the owner. As the name “Express” indicates, it started as mostly a take-out place. In 2011, when Kana Morita was assigned as the manager to run the place, the operation style changed drastically. The interior was renewed to allow people to sit and eat in a relaxed manner, which made the ratio of take-out 40%, and eat-in 60%.

Kana changed not only the style of the restaurant, but also became fastidious about the efficiency in operations. One example is the POS system using iPads. She explains how effective the POS is. “If the order is taken by hand, mistakes can be made, and it also requires another step which is to put the order through to the kitchen or the sushi bar. If ordered through the POS we are currently using, when the server inputs the order into the iPad at the table, the contents of the order will be printed out at the kitchen or the sushi bar. It saves not only time, but also minimize mistakes. There are 30 customer seats, but thanks to the POS, only one server can handle all orders during lunch time, and for even dinner time, myself and one other person on the floor can handle all the customers.” There is only one person working in the kitchen, two at the sushi bar, and one or two on the floor. They are really small in numbers, but superbly efficient.

The menu has been narrowed down. In order to lower the food cost, the menu is focused on sushi, and the tempura is shrimp only. The lunch menu and the dinner menu are the same. The most popular item is the Combination-B containing one each of tuna, salmon, and hamachi sushi, 2 pieces of albacore sushi, plus one hand-roll with a choice of salad or miso soup. The price is $14.90. The signature dish at this restaurant is called “Trust Me” at $42, which contains sashimi, 9 sushi pieces, and a hand-roll. You can taste the same quality as the original Sasabune because the chef built up his career at the main restaurant.

They close dinner early at 8:30pm, but also start early at 4:00pm. No alcohol is served. I heard that almost all the people who eat out in this town is the residents of Pacific Palisades. It is very difficult to acquire the alcohol license because it is such a quiet residential town. So rather than spending time and making efforts to fight for it, their strategy is to offer reasonable prices and a healthy style to eat sushi with no alcohol. The net profit of 25% indicates the strategy is working.

Kana, the able manager, surprisingly has not been working in the restaurant industry long. She actually used to work in the apparel business. A fresh view point must have been needed more than experience, which is evident with the successful innovation. However, they will face a new challenge 3 years from now. A large-scale shopping mall will be built across the street. Outsiders will start coming into this quiet town, Pacific Palisades, and the rent is expected to go up a lot. I should look forward to seeing how they take this challenge as a chance, and persevere through the challenge.


パシフィックパリセーズはサンタモニカからマリブ方面に10分ほど北上した場所にあり、海と山に挟まれた高級住宅街だ。エンターテインメント関係の住民が多いのが特徴。この街の中心街はサンセット・ブールバード沿いの限られた数ブロック。エリア唯一の日本食レストランとして営業しているSasabune Expressもまた、この中心地にある。

Sasabuneと聞けば、ロサンゼルスの寿司ファンなら「あの店」と思い浮かぶ。1990年代にウエストロサンゼルスのソーテルで長蛇の行列ができる店として人々の噂にのぼった、あのSasabuneだ。温かい寿司飯と零れ落ちる大盛りのネタが実に新鮮で革新的だった。パシフィックパリセーズのSasabune Expressは、その本店からの暖簾分けという形で10年近く前に開店。最初は店名にあるように「エクスプレス」、つまり持ち帰り寿司の店だったが、2011年にマネージャーとして森田加奈さんが店を任せられるようになってから、スタイルを大幅に変えた。落ち着いて食事ができる内装に一新し、現在では持ち帰りは40%、店内での食事は60%という割合になった。



また、メニューも絞り込んでいる。フードコストを下げるために寿司中心でメニューを構成、天ぷらは海老のみ。ランチもディナーもメニューは統一。最も人気があるのはツナ、サーモン、ハマチ1貫ずつにアバコア2貫、ハンドロール、サラダか味噌汁が付くコンボB。値段は14ドル90セント。また、本店での看板メニューのお任せは「Trust Me」というメニューで42ドル。刺身に9貫の握り、ハンドロールという内容だ。Sasabune本店で修行を積んでいるシェフによるものだから、店は変わっても同じクオリティで楽しめる。

さらにこの店、閉店時間は8時半。早く閉める分、ディナーは4時から営業している。しかもアルコールを一切提供していない。聞けば、パシフィックパリセーズの街で外食をする人々はほぼ確実にこの住宅地の住人なのだそうだ。静かな住宅街ということで、アルコールライセンスを取ることが困難。そこまで時間と労力をかけてアルコールの免許を取るよりも、アルコール抜き、リーズナブルな値段で健康的に寿司を食べてもらうのがSasabune Expressの作戦なのだ。しかも純利益率25%と聞けば、その作戦が成功していることがわかる。

手腕を発揮しているマネージャーの加奈さん、てっきりレストラン業界の経験が長いのかと思ったら、以前はアパレルの仕事に就いていたそうだ。経営改革には経験よりもフレッシュな視点が功を奏した。そして、3年後には新たな課題が降りかかってくる。通りを挟んだ反対側に大規模ショッピングモールが完成するのだ。静かな街だったパシフィックパリセーズに外部から人が流入するようになり、リース料も高騰することが予想される。しかし、それをチャンスと捉え、Sasabune Expressがどのような奮闘ぶりを見せるのかが楽しみだ。

Sushi Sasabune Express
970 Monument St. Suite 118
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

Mon– Sat 12:00pm-2:30pm,4:00pm-8:30pm
Sun 4:00pm-8:30pm
#alljapannews #pacificpalisades #sushi #sasabune #expo


Their first store in the U.S. ----The Japanese home cooking style set menu restaurant chain

Their first store in the U.S. --... Their first store in the U.S. --... Their first store in the U.S. --... Their first store in the U.S. --... Their first store in the U.S. --...
By Elli Sekine

“Yayoiken”, a set menu chain that has over 300 stores all over Japan finally came to the United States this spring. Their English name is “YAYOI”, and the first store is in Palo Alto, Silicon Valley. On the way there, my curiosity grew. I was wondering what kind of challenge this Japanese style family restaurant was facing, and how they were received in America, which is the restaurant industry powerhouse. This restaurant is located in Downtown on University Avenue. Its elegant façade stands out, and inside is bright, casual, and practical looking. They have a pretty innovative ordering system. An iPad is installed at each table through which orders are placed. The rich menu that contains both Japanese and Western dishes is very well accepted for the good quality and the pricing. The high-quality Japanese restaurant chain, Yayoiken, has started its smooth sailing in America.

In Japan, there is a saying, “IchijuSansai” (one soup, three side dishes), which is the traditional ideal of a well-balanced eating habit. Generally, it means a meal with rice as a main food with 2 side dishes and a bowl of miso soup. For a long time, since the Meiji Restoration, “Western style meals” transported from the foreign countries have been rearranged, evolved, and settled into home cooking and the restaurant industry in Japan. For instance, karaage, croquet, curry, etc, are now recognized as a part of Japanese cuisine overseas. Until some decades ago, the image of a set meal restaurant was a small eatery, but nowadays, it is more like one of the stores of nation-wide restaurant chains that is a rapidly growing business in Japan. This fast-growing industry is even expanding to overseas.

Plenus Co. Ltd,. the headquarters of “Yayoiken”, was originated from a bento chain which held sway over the minds of the people in the seventies called “Hokkahokka-tei”. They are now separated from the original maker, and run as a different company. From 2008, they started a bento chain called HottoMotto, and grew to be a mammoth chain that holds 2,600 stores nationwide. “Yayoiken” is their restaurant department in the affiliated company, and is the fastest growing chain in the restaurant industry,

There are already a total of over 130 “Yayoiken” in Asia and Australia. Following the Palo Alto store, the second one in the U.S. opened in Cupertino. You may think that the American customers might be confused about the unfamiliar term, “set menu”. However, the reality is that there is no such thing. The local resident chief manager, Mr. Teramoto, says that the customer can order whatever they like with no problem. Without a doubt, the reason is the big menu book with descriptions and large full-color photos of all the dishes. It is so easy to see what you want. In addition, the innovative iPad ordering system reduces the number of servers, and provides speedy service to deliver orders to customers’ table quickly without making them wait for a long time. Transparent billing with pre-included tips can also contribute to better rotations.

The history of set meals, special brand rice, etc. are explained on the menu, and help customers become familiarized with Japanese culture. Some of the popular dishes from over 30 set meal choices are “Yayoi Gozen”, a gorgeous set with pork cutlet salmon and sukiyaki ($24), “Nanban Teishoku” ($15), and “Hitsumabushi” (BBQ eel over rice served with a side of dashi broth, Nagoya style) which is a rare dish in the States. The wide variety of Japanese and Western dishes on the menu can cover every group and its diversified eating habits. There are also plenty of drink choices with over 20 different sake and draft beer brands.

“Yayoi” is particular about rice, dashi, and sauce, which are the base of Japanese cuisine. Those base ingredients are imported from Japan to all of the overseas stores. Kinmemai rice is polished in-house to make sure of the freshness. The rice for the stores is also cooked with soft water filtered in a huge water filtering system because it is believed that rice grown in soft water tastes better if cooked also in soft water. The rice looks like regular polished white rice, but it is polished in a particular way so aleurone layer (that includes carbohydrates which produce sweetness and umami) and a portion of embryo buds will remain on the rice to keep brown rice–like characteristics for a fluffy and shiny cooked product. In the Bay Area where people are very health conscious and think brown rice is healthier, this delicious and highly nutritious rice might revolutionize such thinking. The dashi and sauce, which are the core of “unchangeable deliciousness”, are pre-measured accurately and shipped swiftly from the central kitchen in Japan to keep the same taste worldwide.

Each overseas store has a resident store manager and a head chef from Japan to lead the staff. To manage the operations, each Japanese head chef candidate is intensely trained for 3 months overseas before the assignment, and the rest of the staff members are locally hired.

Among the ever-growing IT ventures in Silicon Valley, “Bento box” is getting very popular for lunch. There are not nearly enough Japanese food catering businesses to accommodate the needs. If a mammoth bento chain, “HottoMotto” comes to America following “Yayoi”, more opportunity may arise. The challenge of Plenus Co. Ltd to the restaurant industry in the U.S. seems to have just begun.


日本全国に300店舗を構える定食チェーンの「弥生軒」がついにこの春、米国進出を果たした。その記念すべき英語名、「YAYOI」の第1号店がシリコンバレー、パラアルト店だ。 ファミリー外食産業大国のアメリカで、日本の“ファミレス”がどのようにチャレンジし受け入れられているのか興味津々で店に向かった。ダウンタウンのUniversity Avenue に位置する同店はひときわ目立つ上品な構えだが、中はカジュアルで機能的なレイアウト。 各テーブルごとにiPadが設置され、オーダーは全てコンピュータで行うという画期的なシステムだ。和洋が織りなす豊富なメニューは良質で低価格と評判が良い。日本の優良外食チェーン店「弥生軒」は米国でも順風満々なスタートを切っていた。


「弥生軒」の本部、プレナス社 は、もともと70年代に一世風靡をした弁当チエーン、「ほっかほっか亭」がルーツである。現在はこのメーカーとは別経営となり、2008年より「ほっともっと」弁当チェーンとして、現在全国に2600店舗のマンモスチェーンに成長した。そして同系列のレストラン部門が、「弥生軒」。その成長スピードは外食業界でトップだ。

「弥生軒」は、海外ではすでにアジア、オーストラリアに130店舗以上展開しており、米国は同店に続き2号店が11月にクパチーノにオープンした。「定食」というまだアメリカでは聞きなれない和食スタイルに客が戸惑うのではと思いきや、現地常駐のチーフマネージャー、寺本氏は、全く問題なく皆好きなものを注文するのだと答えてくれた。それもそのはず、大きなフルカラーのメニューブックには、一つ一つのおかずが大きな写真付きで説明してあり、一目見ただけで好みを見分けられるようだ。また、iPad の改革的なオーダーシステムは、従業員の人数が省けるだけでなく、お客を待たすことなくスピーディーに注文の品が運ばれ、チップを含んだ明朗会計が回転率を良くしている。





403 University Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 494-4437

Lunch Mon-Fir 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Sat -Sun 11:00 am -3:00 pm
Dinner Mon-Sun 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
#alljapannews #japanese #yayoi #sanfrancisco


Logo Branding of Japanese Sake

By Yuji Matsumoto

I once wrote before about the importance of naming in the branding of Japanese sake. This time, I would like to write about logo branding.

The logo is an important symbol that represents the product of a company. When reviewing products popular worldwide, each company studies how to best advertise their logos to have their consumers remember their logo, an important strategy. Once the logo is known among consumers, then like Louis Vuitton, Channel, Calvin Klein, Coach, Prada, etc., the functionality of the brand becomes less important than the sense of security and popularity associated with the brand. Regardless of the product, consumers are concerned with visual appeal for text and descriptions usually escape the memory. This is especially true for Japanese, for the consumers generally cannot read Japanese.

Audi have four circles, Honda is the letter “H,” and apple is for Apple computers, logos are easy to memorize. This is also true for food products.

How does this apply to Japanese sake? Review of local ads for Japanese sake, it is difficult to see where the logo is, and often many of the brands don’t have one.

It’s difficult to tell if the sake manufacturer’s name is the brand, or the product name is, or if another product name is the brand. Since some companies sell several brands of Japanese sake in various bottles and labels, it’s disappointing that logos aren’t used to distinguish the brand and manufacturers.

Even if a consumer likes a particular brand of sake, this makes it difficult for the consumers to make the connection between the brand of sake and the manufacturer, or other products offered by that manufacturer. Although the colors and size of bottles may change according to the brand, the brand logo should be made most noticeable for the labeling. I would like each company to place their product on a shelf and review it. Why not consider a logo that appeal to consumers?








#alljapannews #japanese #sake #branding


Sake Samurai Award Ceremony

By Kosuke Kuji

This year the ceremony of the 11th Sake Samurai was held on the premises of Shimogamo Shrine. Shimogamo Shrine is a great treasure that is also inscribed on the World Heritage List. The system of Sake Samurai started 11 years ago. Japan Sake Brewers Association Junior Council organized by young brewers in Japan established this as a gathering of people that have the same heart of nurturing Japanese sake with love due to the fear of losing the 'pride' of Japanese in Japan, to bring back the pride of Japanese sake, and share the Japanese culture not only in Japan but also widely around the world.

Many Japanese and even foreigners have been appointed the title of Sake Samurai up until now and listed below are the people that were appointed Sake Samurai this year.

Mr. Shinya Tasaki, Chairman, Japan Sommelier Association
Mr. Toshio Ueno, LA Mutual Trading, Manager of Business Development
Mr. I Yonsk, President, Rinkai Co.
Mr. Elliot James Faber, Yardbird Restaurant Group, Beverage Manager
Mr. Marco Massarotto, La Via del Sake

The 5 wonderful Japanese and foreigners that were appointed this time each have accomplished great achievements. For detailed information please read (in Japanese) about them at the Sake Samurai Official Homepage noted below.

Sake Samurai Official Homepage: http://www.sakesamurai.jp/

Japanese sake is receiving great reviews around the world now. Those great reviews are making it back to Japan these last few years even though little at a time.

Of the appointed 5 people, Mr. Tasaki the chairman of Japan Sommelier Association who was the only appointee from Japan this time who gave greetings of being appointed chairman said that a sommelier in Japan must study Japanese sake. Japan Sommelier Association loud & clearly announced that they will make opportunities to study Japanese sake. I am so happy to be born in this age where all kinds of people in all kinds of countries seriously love Japanese sake and are sharing it with others.

As a brewer, I will continue to cooperate with all of the Sake Samurais and work hard in sharing our sake around the world.





田崎 真也 氏:日本ソムリエ協会 会長
上野 俊男 氏:共同貿易ロサンゼルス 事業開発部
李 容淑 氏:㈱リンカイ代表取締役社長
エリオット・ジェイムス・フェイバー氏:ヤードバード レストラングループ 飲料部
マルコ・マサロット氏:ラ・ビア・デル・サケ 代表





#alljapannews #sake #samuraiaward


“Sashimi. sushi, soba, and sake……A place where you can satisfy your palate in a sophisticated way

“Sashimi. sushi... “Sashimi. sushi... “Sashimi. sushi... “Sashimi. sushi... “Sashimi. sushi...
By Aya Ota

There is a restaurant that has a dignified appearance which makes you feel like stopping by in a corner of the busy East Village. When you step into the space as you are gravitated towards it, a noble and intense looking corridor runs before your eyes, and you feel as if you are entering another world. That is the “Ise Restaurant”, where you first taste a few slices of sashimi, and then leisurely enjoy sake with appetizers that contain various seasonal ingredients. After that, you complete the meal with sushi or soba; which is the way of a sophisticated eater. The customers in the East Village area are generally young people, and many of the dining places are casual. Among them, Ise is a rare place with a mature ambience where you can quietly enjoy meals and sake.

“Ise” is a long-lasting Japanese restaurant group which has been loved by New Yorkers for a long time since its founding in 1988. They are located in MidTown and Wall Street, and known as izakaya-style restaurants with all genres of Japanese cuisine. This time, the Wall Street location was moved to the East Village, and reborn as a new Ise with a totally brand-new concept.

“I am just doing the usual stuff,” says Masaru Makino in a plain tone, the Executive Chef. He came to the U.S. after building his career in kaiseki style cooking for 5 years in Japan. He is a veteran in this restaurant group who has been displaying his strong skills since the beginning of this group‘s history.

He says that he is just doing the usual stuff so plainly, but I know it is not at all easy to manage this so well as if he is just doing what he is supposed to do, especially at a restaurant that offers the biggest three genres of Japanese cuisine; “sashimi”, “sushi”, and “soba” as their three pillars. Actually, the true no-detail-skipping in preparation and non-compromising attitude can be felt when you taste their food. Their seafood such as blue-fin tuna, red snapper, yellow jack, firefly squid, and sea urchin come directly from Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. They pay a lot of attention to how to maintain freshness so they can always offer the freshest ingredients. It is surprising that they even manually create a special mild soy sauce to bring out the best tastes of sushi and sashimi by combining multiple soy sauce brands with mirin and bonito Flake. “Soba”, their signature menu category, which they particularly put a special effort on, is made in-house using buckwheat flour produced in the Tokachi region of Hokkaido. Its smooth, chewy and nicely firm texture is excellent, and even artistic. It cannot be tasted anywhere else. Also excellent is the dashi carefully made with 5 different kinds of dried bonitos. It is so tasty that you want to add to the soba-yu (the hot water in which the soba has been cooked, and is usually served after having a soba dish), and drink the mixture to the last drop. The twenty different sake brands displayed are carefully selected by all of the staff after actually drinking them all. The sake and the food bring out each other’s goodness, and successfully create a wonderful pairing.

“I would like the customers to enjoy our food and sake to the fullest”, continues Mr. Makino. Such thinking is represented also in the interior design. The space among the tables are luxuriously big, and some spaces are set up almost like private rooms divided effectively by plain wood latticework. The bar located near the front entrance is a beautiful space where you also may want to drop by. There, you can either have just a glass of beer, or enjoy a full menu of items just like you are sitting at a table.

Strong impressions and discovery keep coming. It appears that they are really stressing on soba dishes on the surface, but there is more. The sushi counter with only 6 seats is kind of hidden in the back of the restaurant where Mr. Makino himself prepares omakase style dishes. There is also a kaiseki course that changes monthly.

“Ise”, a newly born restaurant which makes you feel that the more often you visit, the more you feel like visiting again, and telling someone about.---It is truly the birth of a great establishment.









Ise Restaurant
63 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10003
Tel: (212) 228-4152
#alljapannews #sashimi #sake #iserestaurant #newyork


A dining place where 3 difference scenes are presented

A dining place where 3 differe... A dining place where 3 differe... A dining place where 3 differe...
By Keiko Fukuda

In the past few years, the city of Irvine in Orange County has been having a construction rush with condominiums and town-houses. There, located just a few minutes from the 405 Freeway, there is a shopping mall always busy with many Asian residents. In this mall, you can find every Asian food you can think of; a Taiwanese bakery, a Japanese curry shop, a ramen shop, a revolving sushi place, Korean grocery store, etc. In one corner of the mall, a restaurant bar that serves original dishes called “Tokyo Table” stands. You can see lively young people on their patio from outside until very late at night. This restaurant is open until 1 a.m. on weekdays, and 2 a.m. on weekends.

Due to the location being in a college campus town, you expect a sports bar like setting for young people; however, business people in the surrounding areas come for lunch meetings, and families come for dinner as well. Between 10 p.m. and closing time is happy hour, and so is between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. You can enjoy bargain prices twice a day.

“By setting 3 distinctively different scenes, lunch, dinner, and mid-night, we are trying to appeal to a wide range of customers,” says Mr. Takahide Kukidome, the Director of Operations. After seeking satisfaction for all ages and genders for a long time, the number of menu items has expanded to 120 items. He says, “We offer a lot of different things; steaks, sushi rolls, ramen, and side dishes, etc. All the traditional Japanese menu items are the very close re-creations of the recipes developed by Japanese chefs.

In addition to the traditional Japanese cuisine such as sashimi and tempura that go the royal road, they also offer some very creative untraditional menu items. The typical one is their original dish, “Sushi Pizza”. It looks just like a pizza, but it is prepared completely differently. Rice is spread on a sheet of sea weed, then mayonnaise and seafood is applied, and topped with Jalapeño pepper before it is oven-baked. American sushi lovers like crispy texture in sushi, but I, a Japanese, never cared for the stiffness of rice. However, this sushi pizza has a chewy and fluffy texture of true rice, and sweetness. Not only that, all the ingredients are so well balanced, and create a superb harmony.

Kay Doling who is in charge of marketing told me something interesting about their menu. “Our menu uses Japanese words, for instance, Ika Maruyaki for the grilled whole squid, and Karaage for fried chicken rather than giving translations.” You may question if non-Japanese customers can understand them, but first of all, they can see the photos of the dishes on the menu, and second of all, it is a strategy to create communications between the customer and the server by the customer asking the server what they are. Another purpose, according to Mr. Kukidome, is to reach his goal to permeate Japanese cuisine into the American market with the real Japanese terms.

Well, bringing out the whole concept of an extended menu that appeals to a wide range of customers, reasonable pricing, casual ambience, and friendly services, another Tokyo Table will be opening soon in a mall in the city of Alhambra. It will be in a corner of the mall, another ideal location just like the Irvine one. The space is even bigger with 210 seats compared to 190 for the Irvine store. I wonder if they intend to adapt the successful case they have made in Irvine to expand their business nation-wide in the future. They definitely make me look forward to the future development of Tokyo Table.


ここ数年でコンドミニアムやタウンハウスの建設ラッシュが続く、オレンジ郡アーバイン。中でもアジア系の人々で大盛況のショッピングモールがフリーウェイ405号線から車で2、3分の場所にある。ここに来れば、台湾のベイカリー、日本のカレー、ラーメン、回転寿司、韓国系のスーパーマーケットとアジア系の食はほぼ網羅されている。そのモールの角地に立地しているのが、創作料理のレストランバー、Tokyo Tableだ。深夜まで若者たちで盛り上がるパティオの様子が通りから伺える。実は同店、ウィークデイは深夜1時、週末は2時まで営業している。




メニューに関してはマーケティング担当のケイ・ドーリング(Kay Doling)さんが面白いことを教えてくれた。「当店のメニューはイカの丸焼きをそのままIka Maruyaki、また唐揚げもFried ChickenではなくKaraageと表記しています」。それで日本人以外の顧客に伝わるのかと疑問だが、実際はメニューに写真を掲載することで目で見てわかること、さらに「Ikaとは何でしょう?」と顧客がサーバーに質問をすることによってコミュニケーションが生まれる効果も期待した作戦なのだそうだ。さらに久木留氏によると「日本の食文化を名前ごとアメリカ市場に浸透させたいという意気込みの表れ」でもあるとか。

さて、幅広い層にアピールする豊富なメニューとリーズナブルな料金設定、カジュアルな雰囲気の店内、フレンドリーなサービスというコンセプトをそのまま持ち込んで、新店舗が近くオープンする。アルハンブラのショッピングモール内、しかもアーバイン店と同じく角地という絶好のロケーションだ。アーバイン店にも席数は190あるが、アルハンブラはさらに210と巨大空間を確保。アーバインでの成功事例を今後は全米各地に応用させていくのか、今後が楽しみなTokyo Tableだ。

Tokyo Table
2710 Alton Pkway, Irvine Ca 92606 (Diamond Jamboree)

Sun – Thurs 11:30am-1:00am
Fri – Sat 11:30am-2:00am
#alljapannews #orangecounty #tokyotable #japanesefood


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