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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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











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


Popular with fresh made Soba noodles

Popular with fresh made Soba... Popular with fresh made Soba... Popular with fresh made Soba... Popular with fresh made Soba... Popular with fresh made Soba...
By Keiko Fukuda

When a good Japanese restaurant opens, the news spreads very quickly in the Japanese community. A friend of mine who lives in Orange County told me, “A nice restaurant just opened. It is called Soba Izakaya Minami”. After that, I had a chance to have lunch with another friend who lives in Orange County, so I suggested the place. He said, “My wife said she has been there. She thought the food was good”. What a small world!

This place is located in the Laguna Hills Shopping Mall, about 45 minutes down south from where I live. Its interior provides a loft-like modern ambience, and does not look like a typical Izakaya. I visited toward the end of peak lunch hour; however, there were still several groups of customers enjoying meals. I ordered hot gobo tempura. To my surprise, the server told me that the price would be the same for any 100, 200, or 300g of soba. I thought 100g might not be enough, so I ordered 200g, which was just the right amount. If you really like to fill up, you should order 300g. This unique ordering system, and of course, the flavorful soba and crispy gobo tempura were also pretty impressive, and this place was added to my list of restaurants which I want to visit again.

On another day, I visited again to interview the owner, Ray Hattori. Mr. Hattori worked for Asahi Beer for a long time. He retired as the President of its American division. After that, he moved to Orange County, and started working as a restaurant business consultant. He explained to me that he thought he ought to have experience in running a restaurant himself, in order to call himself a consultant, and decided to launch this business by inviting in an enterprise which has been developing a large-scale restaurant chain in Japan as the partner. I asked him why a Soba restaurant, and he replied as follows:
“First of all, I wanted to have a restaurant of which Japanese people think “the taste is authentic”. Second of all, there are many various types of Japanese restaurants in Orange County, including a lot of ramen restaurants, but there are only a few soba restaurants.”

Before opening this soba restaurant, he worked as both a Lyft and Uber driver for the purpose of finding a good location, and market research. “I talked to the customers about where they were headed out to, and what they are looking for in a restaurant. By doing so, I was able to get some ideas,” said Mr. Hattori. In fact, people who use transportation services like Lyft to go to restaurants, often have drinking in mind.

Thus, Soba Izakaya Minami opened its doors in October of 2018. The reason for its open-feel, high-ceiling structure is that he wanted to give customers an image of a soba factory where freshly made soba is offered. In fact, they start the soba making machine after each order is placed. They really serve freshly made soba. They also serve udon dishes. You can take our udon, but not soba which is dine-in only. They are very particular about the freshness of soba, so you can only have soba in the restaurant.

When I made this report, it was about 6 months after the opening. Hattori-san then told me that he was already getting a good vibe. “I am so relieved to know that American customers don’t have much hesitation about soba, unlike what I had expected. Originally, I was aiming for the kind of taste that gives authenticity to Japanese, but as the result, half of our customers have become Americans. I am feeling unexpected happiness.”

Besides being a soba restaurant, they are also an izakaya at night. Because Mrs. Hattori is from Okinawa, they have a plan to gradually increase Okinawan cuisine in the menu. I am looking forward to that, too. Naturally, the beer brands they carry are Asahi, which Mr. Hattori worked for a long time, and Orion beer from Okinawa.



 その店は私が住むエリアから45 分ほど南下したラグナヒルズのショッピングモール内にあった。内装は蕎麦屋らしからぬロフト風のモダンな雰囲気。ランチのピークが終わった頃に入店したのだが、それでも数組の客が食事を楽しんでいた。私がオーダーしたのは温かいごぼう天蕎麦。驚いたのは、サーバーに「蕎麦は100g、200g、300g のどの量でも値段は一緒です」と教えられたこと。100g だとさすがに足りない気がして200 にしてみたが大正解だった。さらにお腹いっぱいになるまで蕎麦を味わいたいと思う人は300 にすれば良いだろう。このユニークなシステムと、そしてもちろん風味豊かな蕎麦とサクサクのごぼう天の印象は抜群で、「再び訪れたい店」の一つに加わった。



 こうして2018 年10 月に蕎麦居酒屋みなみを開店。天井が高い開放的な造りにしたのは、新鮮な蕎麦を提供している「蕎麦工場」のようなイメージを顧客に与えたかったからだそうだ。そして蕎麦は、オーダーが入ってから製麺機にかける、まさにフレッシュな打ち立てを出している。メニューにはうどんもある。ただし、テイクアウトはうどんも受け付けるが、新鮮さにこだわる蕎麦はダインイン限定にしている。



Soba Izakaya, Minami
24391 Avenida De La Carlota Suite A, Laguna Hills
(949) 215-5375

7 days open
#alljapannews #soba #izakaya #minami


New age fusion “IZAKAYA”

New age fusion ... New age fusion ... New age fusion ... New age fusion ... New age fusion ... New age fusion ... New age fusion ...
By Elli Sekine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


メニューを見る限りは何処にでもある一品料理と寿司やグリルがずらりと並んでいるが、一皿一皿の料理技術や盛り付けはさすがにカリナリー校出身、ホテルでの経験があるシェフらしい仕上がりだ。例えば「Gindara misozuke」($11)は、マリネードされた鱈をふっくら焼き上げ、それを丸太プレートで出す。チリソースやガーニッシュの大根も芸術的に盛り付けてある。「Hamachi carpaccio」($8) は、新鮮なハマチにキュウリのシャキシャキした食感を加え、オリーブオイルとビネガー、チリ、ミントドレッシングと薬味添えでアクセントをつけてあ

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


Izakaya Hashibiro Kou
1560 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 441-9294

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


Ramen and creative Japanese cuisine are enjoyed at modern and sophisticated space

Ramen and creative Japanese ... Ramen and creative Japanese ... Ramen and creative Japanese ... Ramen and creative Japanese ... Ramen and creative Japanese ... Ramen and creative Japanese ... Ramen and creative Japanese ...
By Aya Ota

In the Flatiron District, there is a restaurant known as a modern and sophisticated space where you can enjoy superbly creative washoku and ramen. It is "ROKI Le IZAKAYA". It is also gaining attention as a collaboration of Koji Hagihara, one of the top Japanese chefs in New York, and Keiko Aoki, CEO, Benihana of Tokyo, and they just had their one-year anniversary on February 14.

"The dining scene of New York keeps progressing. So it is important to emphasize characteristics or uniqueness of our restaurant by condensing the menu and making the restaurant more specialized," says Mr. Hagihara, owner and executive chef. At the end of this January, he boldly narrowed down to reduce the number of menu items by 2/3 by analyzing the data of the past year from the opening, and creating a prix fixe menu called "ROKI Special 3 Course Dinner" ($42/person, minimum two orders). This course consists of "Japanese Canape" (You choose 3 out of 9 kinds), "Specialty Buns" (You choose 1 out of 3 kinds), and "Ramen Hot Pot" (You choose 1 out of 3 kinds). They hope customers will choose the course as their recommended signature menu in which they have confidence, and hopefully add sushi or sashimi from the a-la-carte menu. Mr. Hagihara continued, "By narrowing down the menu items, we can not only make the operation and cost performance more effective, but also enhance the quality of food dishes by spending more efforts on each item."

The "Japanese Canape" which consists of fried sushi formed-rice base topped with plenty of ingredients such as sea urchin, sweet shrimp, guacamole, ahi poke, etc., is gorgeous to look at. "The "Pork Belly Buns", which have a reputation as New York's best, are meant to be eaten by sandwiching tenderly cooked kakuni pork in the buns yourself with a lot of mustard/ mayo, and wildly biting into them.

It is recommended that you use your hands to eat canape and buns to fully engage your 5 senses, and enjoy the touch. There are 5 kinds of broth for ramen and ramen pot dishes. The noodles which took 3 years for Mr. Hagihara to develop are his proud creation, and take only 1 minute to cook, retains texture well, mixes well with broth, and have a smooth texture. Many customers rave about the ramen specialty restaurant like quality. They are so good that you feel like tasting all of the broth choices.

The performance - pouring of broth at your table using the concept, "cooking is a form of entertainment, so its performance should be enjoyed", leaves a strong impression. With the "Catch of the Day Sashimi Platter", you are entertained by dry ice watered right after an explanation of beautifully presented seasonal fresh fish.

Mr. Hagihara, the creator of numerous dishes that are full of impressions and surprises, has a background in Chinese cuisine. He demonstrated his skills as a right-hand man of Yuji Wakiya, Iron Chef, at "Akasaka Wakiya, Ichiemicharou", the highest achievement in Japan's Chinese cuisine field, and in 2007, he came to the US to become the head chef of "New York Wakiya" when it opened. After that, he achieved the accomplishment of becoming head chef and manager for "Hakata Ton Ton", a restaurant that became so popular that one could hardly get a reservation. He is also very much sought after in other various fields such as appearing in TV cooking programs, lecturing at seminars, cooking for state guests for a Japanese government reception party, etc. Mr. Hagihara says, "Even if techniques and condiments of Chinese cuisine are used, people can enjoy such dishes as washoku, as long as Japanese ingredients are used, and the food is served on Japanese plates. That is one interesting thing about New York." When you step into the restaurant and proceed straight along the corridor toward the counter kitchen located in the center of the space opening up in front of you, you are welcomed by Mr, Hagihara. With a lively and loud greeting, "Irasshaimase!!" he sounds a gong to welcome you.

The name, "ROKI" is taken after Rocky Aoki, Benihana's founder. The reason for adding "IZAKAYA" to the name is because Japanese izakaya-style restaurants serve many different dishes, and there are "no borders". Now, after 10 years in the US, full of passion with enough experiences and power, he is are aiming for the world. I heard that they already have gotten offers to open restaurants in Europe and Middle East as "ROKI", and as ramen or bun specialty restaurants. I cannot keep my eyes off of their future endeavors.


フラットアイアン地区に、モダンで洗練された空間で、抜群の創作和食やラーメンを楽しめる評判の店がある。『ROKI LeIZAKAYA』-- ニューヨークを代表する日本人シェフ、萩原好司氏と、『Benihana of Tokyo』のCEO、青木恵子氏が提携して開店したことでも注目されており、この2月14日でちょうど1周年を迎えたところだ。

「ニューヨークのダイニングシーンは進化し続けている。メニューを凝縮して専門化し、店の特徴や個性を際立たせることが重要」と語るのは、オーナー兼料理長を務める萩原氏。開店後1 年の実績データを分析し、この1 月末に、大胆にもメニュー数を3分の2まで絞り込み、『ROKI Special 3 Course Dinner』(42 ドル/1 人、2 人前〜)というプリフィックスコースを用意した。コースは「和風カナッペ」(9 種類から3 つ選択)、「特製バンズ」(3 種類から1 つ選択)、「ラーメン鍋」(3 種類から1 つ選択)という構成だ。同店が自信を持って提案する看板メニューとして、客には基本的にコースを選んでもらい、アラカルトで寿司や刺身などを追加してもらいたいという狙いだ。「メニューを絞り込むことで、オペレーションやコスト面も効率化できるだけでなく、一品一品に力を注ぎクオリティを高めることができる」と萩原氏は続ける。

『和風カナッペ』は、寿司飯を整形して揚げたベースに、ウニや甘エビ、ワカモレやアヒポケといった具材をたっぷり盛り付けたもので、見た目も華やか。"ニューヨークNo.1のバンズ"と言われる『豚の角煮バンズ』は、トロトロに煮込んだ角煮に辛子マヨネーズをたっぷり付けて、客が自ら角煮をバンズに挟んで豪快に頬張る。「五感をフルに活用し、触感も楽しんでほしい」という意図から、カナッペもバンズも手で食べることを勧めている。ラーメンとラーメン鍋用には、5 種類のブロスを用意。麺は、萩原氏が3 年かけて開発したもので、1 分で茹でられて、伸びにくく、ブロスが絡みやすく、食感もなめらか…という自信作。多くの客から"ラーメン専門店のようなクオリティ"と大絶賛され、すべてのブロスを試したくなる味だ。「料理はエンターテイメント。パフォーマンスも楽しんでほしい」というコンセプトで、卓上でブロスをかけてくれる演出が印象深い。「旬の刺身盛り合わせ」は、美しく盛り付けられた旬の魚を丁寧に説明してくれた直後、目の前でドライアイスに水を注いで楽しませてくれる。

感動と驚きに満ちた料理の数々を創り出す萩原氏、バッググラウンドは中国料理だ。日本中国料理界の最高峰『赤坂WAKIYA-笑美茶楼』で、料理の鉄人・脇屋友詞氏の右腕として活躍、2007 年『New York Wakiya』開店に伴い渡米し料理長を務めた。その後、『Hakata TonTon』の料理長兼マネージャーとして、同店を予約の取れない人気店に成長させた実績も持つ。その他にも、料理番組出演、セミナー講師、政府関係レセプションで国賓に料理を振る舞うなど、多方面に引っ張りだこだ。「中国料理の技法や調味料を使っても、和食材を使って和食器に盛り付けると、和食として楽しんでもらえる。そこがニューヨークのおもしろいところ」と萩原氏は語る。店に足を踏み入れ、障子に挟まれた通路をまっすぐ進み、ぱっと開けた空間の中央に位置するカウンターキッチンへ進むと、そこに必ず萩原氏が出迎えてくれる。威勢のよい「いらっしゃいませ!」というかけ声と共に銅鑼を鳴らし、笑顔で客を歓迎してくれる。


"IZAKAYA" と入れたのは、日本の居酒屋にはいろいろな料理が並び、"国境がない"という意味も込めている。渡米後10 年経ち、経験や実力も兼ね備え、情熱もみなぎっている今、目指しているのは世界だ。『ROKI』として、またラーメンやバンズの専門店として、すでに欧州や中東からもオファーがあるという。今後の動向から目が離せない。

12 West 21st Street
New York, NY 10010
(646) 383-7654

Mon.-Fri. Lunch 12:00pm-2:30pm
Mon.-Sat. Dinner 5:00pm-11:00pm
Sunday Closed
#alljapannews #ramen #Japanese #cuisine #ROKI #izakaya #NY


Replicating authentic Japanese izakaya with the food, service and ambience

Replicating authentic Japanese ... Replicating authentic Japanese ... Replicating authentic Japanese ... Replicating authentic Japanese ... Replicating authentic Japanese ...
By Keiko Fukuda

There is a restaurant in Torrance that has gained popularity quickly in the past few years for its vivid ambiance, in which you enjoy fresh seafood and meat dishes. It is “Izakaya Hachi”. Another Hachi restaurant also opened in Costa Mesa in Orange County a year ago. They opened their first restaurant in Santa Monica about 9 years ago as an affiliated restaurant of the Manpuku Group, and their popularity grew when they moved to Torrance in April of 2013.

“Back then, my goal was to make a restaurant where people can feel the true essence of Japan in Torrance where many people from Japan live, and many of them are corporate business people on assignments. My image for this place was a typical izakaya in the Shinbashi area of Tokyo. Lately, more and more local people started to come by word of mouth. I was not expecting that, but I heard that good reviews on social media such as Yelp spread widely,” says Tomohisa Kawachi, the Supervisor.
Their meat is procured from the same vendor which the Manpuku Group uses. Hachi’s most recommended meat dish is the thickly sliced beef tongue. The slowly charcoal-broiled tongue is flavorful and has a hint of sweetness. Their solid confidence in the freshness of the ingredients is represented by having beef sashimi on the menu. The seafood ingredients are directly sent by air from Japan.

There are so many items of seafood, meat, vegetables, and even Battera (pressed sushi) on the menu, which makes it difficult for you to make decisions. The list of menu items gets renewed every 6 months after a deep discussion between the chef and Mr. Kawachi.

Kawachi continues, “The data shows what sells well. What we want to push is not necessarily the same as what customers want. Therefore, based on the data, we decide what to leave, and what to add on the menu. For the dishes that are loved by only a few customers, we still offer them as the daily specials once in a while.”

Among their alcoholic drinks they carry for pairing with the food items, they recommend “Shinriki” from Hiroshima as a rare and precious sake brand. Among sake rice, Yamadanishiki is well known nowadays; however, before World War II, Shinrikimai was also very widely used along with Yamadanishiki. The Shinrikimai was believed to be eradicated due to the atomic bombing in the area.

He said, “A small amount of survived crop was found a few years ago, and preserved. Now, only a few hundred bottles of sake made with Shinrikimai are sold only in Kure-city of the Hiroshima prefecture. We get a few of those precious bottles through a special connection after a negotiation.
The sake Kawachi loves is "namazake" (non-filtered raw unprocessed sake). He says, “Its alcohol content is 19%, which is very different from other dry, fresh Japanese sake brands that are currently popular in the US. It tastes so satisfying!” He seems to be really fond of this sake.

“Customers are happy as long as good food and sake are there, and we tend to speak louder encouraged by seeing them being content. This reaction provides the restaurant’s vivid ambiance. I believe that vividness of a restaurant is created not intentionally by the restaurant, but by the customers. To me, it is very important for the healthy growth of the restaurant to keep making solid and consistent efforts in improving the quality of the service with continuous training of the staff,” says Kiuchi. This restaurant does not advertise at all. I asked him about the target for 5 years from now. “I would like Hachi to become a restaurant of a higher quality, meaning the kind of restaurant which even people from far-away places want to visit.”

Even now, there are already more than a few people who come from outside of the State. They also even have received a request to open another branch outside of California. However, as an immediate goal, Kawachi thinks it is more important to have the Costa Mesa branch catch up with the success of Torrance. I believe that the possibility of having more branches may open up after achieving that goal.













Izakaya Hachi
1880 W.Carson St.Ste A
Torrance, CA 90501

Mon.-Thu. 5:30pm-10:30pm
Fri. 5:30pm-11:00pm
Sat. 5:00pm-10:30pm
Sun. 5:00pm-10:00pm
#alljapannews #Japanese #sake #izakaya #authentic #Torrance


Legendary bar where all the seats are always taken due to its demonstration of skills, good taste, and services of true Japan

Legendary bar where all the ... Legendary bar where all the ... Legendary bar where all the ... Legendary bar where all the ... Legendary bar where all the ... Legendary bar where all the ...
by Aya Ota

In the East Village, a vibrant town of condensation of diverse ethnic groups and cultures, you first climb a set of stairs to an izakaya, get inside, walk through it, glancing at people enjoying themselves over yakitori and beers on the way, then you reach a hidden door. When you push open the door which still looks like a wall, a classy and relaxing space opens up in front of you. It makes you feel as if you just entered an unknown world. This is “Angel’s Share”, a speakeasy, which has a reputation as the most popular bar in New York. It is unbelievable that there is such a bar hidden in a place like this. The bar is known as a mystery bar where you can hardly get in because it is always full.

Once you step into the bar, a female bartender who shakes a shaker behind the counter looking solemn draws your attention. She is Nana Shimosegawa, General Manager, who supervises the entire operation of the bar. She demonstrates her skills there as the first and only female bartender for this bar. In her career, she started working as a maître d' back in 2008. She built her experience at “Zest” in Ebisu, Tokyo, and never even thought about becoming a bartender in New York which is a totally different environment. However, her talent was spotted by the then head bartender, and she started training to become a bartender from the very bottom level. After 3 years of internship, she became a certified bartender in 2011, got promoted to a manager in 2012, and then has been working at the current position since 2016.

This bar first opened in 1994 with the concept “A space like a bar in Ginza where people enjoy good liquors in a relaxed atmosphere”. “Angel’s Share” after which the bar was named derives from evaporation that occurs during whiskey brewing during the barrel storing and aging processes. The name was taken from the traditional belief in which whiskey loses its volume during aging because an angel is secretly drinking it, and in return, the angel gives whiskey the aroma and depth.

Ms. Shimosegawa says, “I try to adopt the latest trends assertively while I respect the classical cocktail culture at the same time.” “Moon Light” ($15), a cocktail created by her, can be enjoyed by ladies who cannot drink much alcohol. The base is gin infused by juniper and raw honey. It is a perfect combination of fresh citrus aroma, and smooth textures of milk and egg white. This bar has a good reputation for the delicate flavored cocktails using Japanese ingredients as accents, which you can only find in bars like this one which are run by Japanese people. “Flirtibird” ($15) consists of true barley shochu and yuzu juice as the base. The plum salt on the rim of the glass, and shiso powder floating on the surface make this cocktail’s aroma and taste stand out. “Milky Way” is another cocktail created by Ms. Shimosegawa. Its base is Junmai sake. Ingredients which you do not normally think for cocktails such as soy milk and parmigiana cheese give this cocktail a unique and fabulous harmony. Every time you bring the glass close to your mouth, you can enjoy the smell of the aromatic powder soy sauce. She also interestingly uses other Japanese ingredients such as koji, sesame oil, matcha, and wa-sanbon sugar.

The secret hideout-like ambiance should be one of the reasons for its popularity. However, as soon as you taste some of the original cocktails, you would understand the true reasons for attracting customers constantly, are the taste, quality and high skills of the staff. On the menu, there are about 35 cocktails, and new items will be added a few times a year to give a good balance to the selection. The number of liquors used in the cocktails is as many as 4~500 to my surprise, which was the result of careful selection based on taste and quality. They are trying to differentiate themselves from other bars by carrying not only Japanese sake, but Japan-made whiskey, vodka, liquors, and beers.

“It is important for the bartender to have the ability to find what the customer wants instantly,” continues Ms. Shimosegawa. There are many customers who intentionally order cocktails that are not on the menu to try the bartender’s skill. They make all kinds of requests such as “something with gin as the base”, “something with a fresh and light taste”, “something summer-like”, “something that suits me”, etc. The bartender needs to detect the customer’s preference by observing the person, mood, and situation.

“Angel’s Share” opened the second bar next to it about 3 years ago due to high demands. This one is also a hideout-like bar whose entrance is hard to find. They sure are legendary. They never advertise and there are no signs, but customers constantly fill the entire seats only by word of mouth. I am certain that you would understand why people would want to tell someone about this bar once they visit.


多種多様な人種の文化が凝縮し活気あふれる街、イーストヴィレッジ。一軒の居酒屋へ向かう階段を上り店内に入り、焼き鳥やビールで盛り上がる人々を横目に、一見壁に見える隠し扉を押す。すると、そこには上品で落ち着いた雰囲気の空間が広がり、別世界に入り込んだような錯覚を覚える。ここは、ニューヨークで最も人気が高いと評判のスピークイージー、『Angel’s Share』。こんな場所にバーが潜んでいるとは全く想像できないが、常に満席でなかなか入店できない幻のバーとして知られている。


「銀座のバーのような、美味しいお酒を落ち着いて楽しめる空間」というコンセプトで同店が開店したのは1994年。店名の由来となった「Angel’s Share(天使の分け前)」とは、ウィスキーを樽貯蔵・熟成する過程で起こる蒸発のことを示す表現だ。熟成中のウィスキーが減っていくのは天使がこっそり飲んでいるからで、その代わりに、天使はウィスキーに香りや深みを与えてくれる…という言い伝えを、店名にした。

「クラッシックなカクテル文化を大事にしつつ、最新の流行を積極的に取り入れるよう心がけている」と下瀬川氏は語る。同氏が創作したカクテル『Moon Light』(15ドル)は、酒に強くない女性でも楽しめるようにと考案したもので、ジュニパーと生蜂蜜がインフューズされたジンがベース。柑橘類の爽やかな香りと、牛乳や卵白で作るなめらかな口当たりが絶妙な組み合わせだ。日本人経営のバーならでは、和食材をアクセントに使った繊細な味のカクテルも評価が高い。『Flirtibird』(15ドル)は本格麦焼酎と柚子果汁がベース。グラスの縁につけられたプラムソルトと表面に浮かぶ紫蘇が、全体の香りや味を引き立てる。『Milly Way』も下瀬川氏が創作したレシピで、純米酒がベース。豆乳やパルミジャーノチーズといった、カクテルの固定概念を覆す食材を取り入れ、独特だが見事な調和を醸し出している。グラスに口を近づける度に、粉末醤油が芳ばしく、心地よい。他に、麹、胡麻油、抹茶、和三盆糖などの和食材を取り入れており興味深い。



『Angel’s Share』は、そのあまりの人気の高さゆえに、約3年前、隣に2号店を開店した。やはり入り口の分からない隠れ家バーだ。一切の宣伝もせず、看板もなく、口コミだけで満席が続く伝説の店。一度訪れると、誰かに教えたくなってしまう気持ちが分かるに違いない。

Angel’s Share
8 Stuyvesant Street
New York, NY 10003
Tel: 212-777-5415
#alljapannews #Japanese #bar #izakaya #yakitori #angelsshare #newyork


First time in Napa Valley! True izakaya run by Californian chef

First time in Napa Valley! Tru... First time in Napa Valley! Tru... First time in Napa Valley! Tru... First time in Napa Valley! Tru... First time in Napa Valley! Tru...
By Eri Shimizu / Editing: Elli Sekine

Although Napa Valley, known for its wine producing, is located in the Bay Area where many high-end and high-quality Japanese restaurants already exist, there was no Japanese restaurant in the valley. Finally, last year in 2016, Japanese restaurants such as “KENZO”, a high-end restaurant, started to open one after another. "Miminashi” is the first restaurant which opened there in May, and gained popularity quickly. The name, “Miminashi” was derived from a well-known Japanese folk tale, “Miminashi Hoichi”, which was chosen by the owner/chef Curtis Di Fede. He wished that the restaurant would last for a long time as a good restaurant just like the character Hoichi in the story who endured hardships throughout his life.

Mr. Curtis is from an American family from Napa, which has continued for four generations, which is rare in the US. He also grew up in Napa. After being trained in Michelin-star restaurants in Napa such as “Bouchon” and “Terra”, he became the chef of “Oenotori”, a southern-Italian style restaurant which was opened in 2010. Their casual menu using local ingredients gained a lot of repeat customers, and “Oenotori” grew to be a very popular restaurant loved by the local customers. However, in order to stay with his principle which is to stick to his original techniques, Mr. Curtis left “Oenotori”, and opened his own place for the first time. But, why a Japanese food restaurant? 

For 3 years after leaving “Oenotori”, he went all over the world to eat specialty foods of each country. His first encounter with yakitori was at an outside vendor in Shinjuku. He was shocked to know that so many different parts of chickens were used, and there were so many different textures and tastes. He also fell in love with the lively atmosphere of izakaya-style restaurants, and wanted to bring it back to Napa, which triggered the opening of this first restaurant. In order to break the stereotypical image of Japanese food which equals to sushi, “Miminashi” purposely does not serve sushi. The heavy white wood door with numerous protrusions designed based on the image of Mt. Fuji is impressive.

Once you step inside, you are surrounded by customers who are filling the place in a noisy and lively ambience. There is a bar counter with wine and sake bottes in the middle, which naturally draws you to liquors first. On your left, there is a yakitori counter and tables from where you can see the Binchotan charcoal burning, and on your right are more private booths.
The main menu items are Binchotan charcoal broiled yakitori, ramen, and a-la-carte dishes. The chickens are brought in uncut, so in addition to regular yakitori parts such as liver and gizzard, they can serve rare parts in the States such as tail, hearts, and gristle. They even serve grilled skewers with ingredients other than chicken such as pork short rib, Maitake mushrooms, etc. The variety is as wide as they are in Japanese yakitori specialty restaurants. They even serve chicken sashimi when French blue leg chickens are available. For the ramen dishes, they serve different flavors such as rich tonkotsu or light seafood base depending on the weather of the day. As their particularity, Hokkaido konbu seaweed is used for all the ramen soup base as a common ingredient. The toppings such as marinated eggs, house-made kimchee, poached chicken slices, etc. are also offered varied depending on the day.  

The ingredients are bought at the local markets weekly by the chef. He creates original a-la-carte menu items using local organic and seasonal ingredients that he buys. Examples of these are “Roasted Beets Salad” ($12) (made with popular Californian ingredients such as beets and blood oranges with nori and wasabi dressing), “Grilled Romanesco Cauliflower” ($8.50) (made with roasted cauliflower topped with yuzu, bonito shavings, and fried tempura batter crumbles), etc., which are a unification of local ingredients and Japanese flavors. The sashimi plate that changes daily is served with original condiments such as blood orange pepper, and fresh wasabi aired from Japan, which is an extra charged item.

The drink menu is selected with food paring in mind. The wide variety includes all kinds of sake brands from Hon-jozo to Junmai dai-ginjo, Japanese and local beers such as Asahi, COEDO, and Hitachino, and European wines.

Mr. Curtis is very particular about the soft-serve ice cream ($7). He encountered Hokkaido soft ice cream in Japan, and was so impressed. He wants to make it a popular American dessert that can surpass the boom of frozen yogurt. He is planning to open multiple soft ice cream specialty shops in the future. The restaurant in Napa is already so popular, and people including tourists wait in line to get in every day.

I asked him his prospects for the future. He said that he would like to keep introducing the charm of the collaboration of traditional Japanese tastes with Napa for now. I would like to see the success of this restaurant in becoming a long-lasting and well-loved izakaya which was finally born in Napa.



しかし昨年2016年、注目されるハイエンドの「KENZO」を始め、日本食レストランが相次いでオープンした。その先頭を切って去年5月にオープンした「Miminashi」がたちまち人気を集めている。日本人ならお馴染みの怪談「耳なし芳一」からとった店名にはオーナーシェフ、カーティス・ディ・フェーデ氏(Curtis Di Fede)の思い入れがある。同店が道中に「芳一」苦難があった時にも耐え、良き店として長く続くように、と。

カーティス氏はアメリカでは珍しい4世代続くナパ出身家系の4代目で ナパ育ち 。ナパバレーのミシュランスターレストラン、「Bouchon」や「Terra」で修行後、2010年にオープンした南イタリア料理店「Oenotori」のシェフとなる。ローカルの食材を使ったカジュアルな料理はリピーターを呼び、同店は地元客に愛される人気レストランに 成長した 。 しかし、シェフの独自の手法 を貫きたい思いから、同店を離任し、今回初めて独自店舗を構えた。でもなぜ日本食だったのか? 

「Oenotori」を離職後3年間、カーティス氏は世界各地の食を食べ歩いた。カーティス氏が初めて焼き鳥と出会ったのは新宿の屋台。鶏にはこれほど沢山の部位があり、食感や味わいが違うのかと衝撃を受けたという。そして活気溢れる居酒屋の雰囲気をぜひ地元ナパにも再現したいと思いが今回のオープンにつながった。カーティス氏はアメリカ人のステレオタイプである寿司 というイメージを一新する如く、あえてMiminashiでは寿司を提供していない。富士山をイメージしたという無数の突起のついた重厚な白木のドアが印象的な店構え。扉を開け一歩中に入ると、満席の客の喧騒と熱気に包まれる。ワインや日本酒のボトルの並ぶバーが中央にあり、まずアルコールに目に入る。左手には備長炭の炎を見ながら食できる焼き鳥カウンターとテーブル席、右手に個室感覚のブース席がある。

メニューの中心は、備長炭で焼き上げる焼き鳥とラーメン、そして一品料理だ。ここ では、丸鶏を仕入れ、店内で捌くため、レバーや砂肝はもちろん、アメリカでは珍しいボンジリやハツモト、ヒザナンコツなどの部位も使用。さらに豚カルビや舞茸など鶏以外の串焼きもまるで日本の焼き鳥屋のように種類が豊富。さらにフランス原産の鶏ブルーレッグチキンが入荷した時には鳥刺しもある。一方、ラーメンのスープは濃厚な豚骨やあっさり魚介ベースなど、その日の天候によって変える。しかし、どのスープも共通してベースには北海道産の真昆布を使うのがこだわりだ。具材も味付け玉子や自家製のキムチ、ポーチドチキンなど日替わりである。

食材はカーティス氏が毎週マーケットに足を運び、 地元オーガニック食材を使った季節感がある一品料理メニューを創作する。野菜料理はRoasted Beet Salad($12)(ビーツやブラッドオレンジなどカリフォルニアで人気の組み合わせに海苔やわさびドレッシング)やGrilled Romanesco Cauliflower($8.5)(カリフラワーのローストに柚子や鰹節、天かすのトッピング)など、ローカル食材と日本のフレイバーが融合した料理が並ぶ。




カーティス氏に今後の展望を聞くと、まずは現在の店を地元の人から支持が得られるように日本伝統の味とナパのコラボの魅力を伝えていきたい とのこと。ようやくナパに誕生したIzakayaが多くの人に長く愛される 店になるのを期待したい。

821 Coombs St, Napa, CA 94559
(707) 254-9464

Mon.-Fri./11:30AM–2:30PM, 5:30–10:00PM (Fri. until 11:00PM)
#alljapannews #SF #Japanese #miminashi #NepaValley #izakaya


Take note on American beef steak created by high-quality dry aging technique of Japan

Take note on American beef st... Take note on American beef st... Take note on American beef st... Take note on American beef st... Take note on American beef st... Take note on American beef st... Take note on American beef st...
By Aya Ota

In the Williamsburg district of Brooklyn, stylish and innovative stores are appearing one after another, and you find something new every time you visit. People think that this town is most sensitive about the newest trends. In such a town, extremely stylish exteriors draw your attention. Once you step inside, a sophisticatedly designed interior space opens in front of you. It is “Salt + Charcoal” restaurant. Until recently, this place had been running as a popular robata-yaki izakaya restaurant mostly for local customers, but in March of this year, the menu was completely renewed to kick off a new concept, “Japanese Style Steak House + Brasserie”, and is gaining a lot of attention.

“Salt and charcoal are the basics of cooking,” says the owner, Teruyuki Takayama to explain how the name of the restaurant came about. He has a unique background as a producer/CEO of a film production company. When he became 40 years old, he felt like challenging himself to a completely different field, and started a restaurant business. It took him 2 years to open the restaurant as he struggled through issues including finding real estate, undergoing various building construction problems, experiencing difficulty in obtaining the license to use charcoal, etc. Then, 2 years after the opening, he decided to renew the menu with the change of the chef to make a new start. The concept of cooking with charcoal stayed the same, but the robata grill using Bincho charcoal was removed, and instead he installed a customized charcoal specialized grill with which they offer dynamic dishes of meat and seafood.

The menu renewal was especially focused on the steak section. The new Executive chef, Tadaaki Ishizaki, is a meat expert. Not only had he been displaying his expert skills in a steak house in Japan, but he also has a long career in the sites of meat production, processing, and sales. He has the title of “Japan Dry Aging Beef Promotion Board Certified Cook”. He says, “Compared to America and Europe, Japan has a shorter history of dry aging. However, after studying enthusiastically, Japan now holds a very high standard technique which, I can probably say, has progressed and become No. 1 in the world”. Mr. Ishizaki continues representing his passion - “I would like to serve the best meat dishes by appropriately using high-quality American beef and wagyu beef with the reimported high standard technique cultivated in Japan.”

He is very particular about selecting the meat he uses. He goes to the contracted meat seller to select fresh meat by himself. He then insists on having the meat age for a month. “Porterhouse Steak using such dry aged beef is his proud menu item. The menu has a wide variety of dishes. Other steak menu items include Kumamoto wagyu, T-Bone, NY strip, etc. Besides beef, there is also duck, lamb, salmon, branzino, octopus, lobster, etc. Each ingredient is grilled in the most appropriate way, and served with the best matched sauce. You can also order extra house sauces ($1.50 to $2 each) to differentiate the taste. There are more than 15 different kinds, which makes you feel like trying them all. The unique sauces accentuated by Japanese spices include “Balsamic butter soy sauce”, “Miso garlic butter, “Green onion ponzu chili oil”, “Sansai (mountain vegetables) mayonnaise”, etc.

Other sections of the menu such as appetizers, raw bar, sushi (rice), salad, etc. also contain dishes full of imagination. It would not be easy to skip to the steak menu. “Uni Truffle Pudding” ($16) is a sumptuous item using one whole sea urchin combined with truffle oil, truffle salt, and truffle foam. “Whole Shrimp Croquette” ($21) is a unique dish deep-fried using Kadaif as the coating. The custom-made tartar sauce goes perfectly well with it. “Wagyu “Yukke” Tartare” ($26) is delivered to the table in a bamboo container, and then, your server mixes the ingredients in front of you. Its spicy taste eaten with dried seaweed or potato chips makes you want to drink more sake. Chef Ishizaki has worked for “Joel Robuchon”, a top-notch French restaurant. The elegant and gorgeous presentation he creates, using full knowledge and technique of French cuisine, takes your breath away.

The majority of the customers are locals, and 95% of them are non-Japanese. The renewal of the menu was targeted to invite many new customers by accommodating the local needs. On the other hand, due to the price increase, there is a risk of losing the regulars who have been enjoying the old casual robata-yaki izakaya style. The former popular menu items such as karaage and yakitori are gone from the dinner menu.

Despite of the risk, I can also smell success. I cannot take my eyes off of the new start and the future development of “Salt + Charcoal”.


おしゃれで斬新な店舗が次々と登場し、訪れる度に新しい発見があるブルックリンのウィリアムズバーグ地区。今、ニューヨークで最も流行感度が高いと言われるこの街で、ひときわスタイリッシュな外観に目を奪われ足を踏み入れると、洗練されたデザインの空間が広がる――ここ『Salt + Charcoal』は、これまで炉端焼き居酒屋として、地元客を中心に定着してきたが、この3月からメニューを一新、「Japanese Style Steak House+Brasserie」という全く新しいコンセプトを打ち出して、注目されている。



前菜やローバー、寿司(ライス)、サラダなどのセクションも、創意工夫に富んだ料理が並んでおり、うっかりステーキにたどり着けないのではないかと思うほどの充実ぶりだ。「ウニ、トリュフプディング」(16ドル)はウニを丸々1個分使い、トリュフ油・トリュフ塩・トリュフ泡を組み合わせた贅沢な一品。「海老のクリームコロッケ 」(21ドル)は、カダイフを衣に使い揚げたユニークな一品。特性タルタルソースとの相性が抜群だ。「和牛タルタル」(26ドル)は、具材が竹製容器に盛り付けられてテーブルに運ばれた後、サーバーが目の前で混ぜてくれる。海苔や店特製ポテトチップスに載せて食べると、思わず酒が進んでしまうスパイシーな味付けだ。石崎シェフは一流フランス料理店『ジョエル・ロブション』でも勤務した経験がある。フレンチの技術や知識も存分に活かした、優雅で華やかなプレゼンテーションにも目を奪われる。


リスクは伴うがすでに成功の予感がする『Salt + Charcoal』の再出発――今後の展開から目が離せない。

Salt + Charcoal
171 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY 11249
Tel: 718-782-2087
#alljapannews #brooklyn #salt #charcoal #robatayaki #izakaya


Becoming a trend setter in a very short time

Becoming a trend setter in a ... Becoming a trend setter in a ... Becoming a trend setter in a ...
By Aya Ota

The “Zuma” group has opened 10 contemporary Japanese restaurants all over the world in the cities such as Hong Kong, Istanbul, Dhaka, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, and Rome since they opened the first location in London in 2002. In the United States, following the first location in Miami in 2010, another one opened in the Midtown district of New York in January of 2015, which has already become a trend setter almost immediately.

“To me, cooking is the same as languages. Cooking is communication”, says the executive chef, Oliver Lange. He was already interested in cooking at a tender age. There was a sushi restaurant in the neighborhood where he grew up, which got him familiarized with Japanese cuisine. Later, he toured all over Japan to learn about Japanese cuisine, and was deeply influenced by the Japanese food culture.

While he was expanding his career and gaining excellent reviews as a chef worldwide in Munich, Frankfurt, and London, he met Rainer Becker, the founder of the Zuma Group, at one occasion, and ended up becoming the head chef of the Group’s London restaurant. His superb ability got him promoted to Executive Chef of Zuma in New York in September of 2015, only several months later.

At “Zuma”, you can enjoy modern and elegant Japanese cuisine evolved from traditional and philosophical Japanese culture. In order to create a casual relaxing atmosphere despite of the high-end rich looking interior, the izakaya style of serving was chosen. The dishes delivered one by one from any of the three different sections - the sushi bar, the robata grill, and the principal kitchen - can be shared with your family and friends at your table. For those who are not familiar with izakaya style dining, your server is most willing to explain or answer questions. Many of the customers prefer “omakase” style ordering.

In addition to the standard menu items shared by all the Zuma restaurants worldwide, each one offers different items based on the local ingredients and favorites. Here in New York, there are some original items such as “Freshly Seared Wagyu Sirloin Tataki with Black Truffle Ponzu”, “Saikyo Miso Bun with Uni”, “Grilled Octopus, Lemon Chili Sauce and Yuzu Pickled Fennel”, “Smoked Chutoro, White Asparagus and Yuzu Shallots”. Chef Oliver’s newest creation, “Black Cod Marinated in Saikyo Miso with Wasabi Citrus Sauce” is superb. As he says, “I love to combine miso and citrus flavors”, he delivers this favorite combination of Japanese ingredients well in this dish by gently and flavorfully grilling the thick piece of black cod filet in magnolia leaves, and enhancing its flavor with Saikyo miso sauce mixed with wasabi and citrus juice. The Sankyo miso used in this dish was created specifically for this restaurant. They carry more than 150 different kind of sake. “Zuma Ginjo”, brewed exclusively for the Zuma Group by a brewer in Akita prefecture is a very smooth one.

As described in the words of the founder, Mr. Rainer Becker, “Zuma is about a complete dining experience”, and the interior of the restaurant is definitely included in its concept. As you step into the 2-story, 9,959 sqf of luxurious space, it overwhelms you. The natural materials such as wood and stones used generously and accentuated by Japanese motifs create a gorgeous yet relaxing ambience. The main dining room on the first floor has an atrium style ceiling, which gives an open feeling. The tables are far apart, and some are very private. The second floor lounge provides an intimate and comfortable space. You can get a customized service in one of the 6 private rooms for a party from a meeting to a cocktail reception. This modern and functional interior space was designed by a Japanese architect, Noriyoshi Muramatsu.

The Group is in the process of opening another one in Las Vegas by the end of this year. “Zuma” is definitely the kind of restaurant you should try.




 『Zuma』では、日本食文化の伝統と哲学を重視しつつも、現代的かつ優雅に進化させた料理の数々を楽しめる。高級感あふれる店内でありつつも、くつろいだ雰囲気で過ごしてもらいたいという想いから、居酒屋スタイルを採用。3つのセクション、 “寿司バー”、“炉端グリル”、“メインキッチン”から次々と運ばれてくる料理を、友人や家族とシェアできるよう考慮されている。居酒屋スタイルに不慣れな客には、サーバーが丁寧に説明するほか、“おまかせ”を用意し利用する客が多い。

 日本酒も150銘柄以上取りそろえている。秋田県の蔵元が特別に醸した「Zuma Ginjo」は喉ごしが柔らかく格別の一本だ。



261 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Tel: 212-544-9862

Monday - Friday
Lunch 11:45am – 3:00pm
Dinner 5:45pm – 11:30pm
Dinner 5:45pm – 11:30pm
Dinner 5:45pm – 10:00pm

Monday - Saturday
Dinner 5:45pm – 11:30pm

Monday - Saturday
Bar & Snacks 5:00pm – 12:00am
#alljapannews #newyork #suma #sushibar #izakaya


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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