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Sushi Seki A sushi restaurant that never stops evolving “Sushi Seki”, in Times Square

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Sushi Seki A su... Sushi Seki A su... Sushi Seki A su... Sushi Seki A su... Sushi Seki A su... Sushi Seki A su...
By Aya Ota

The very Japanese-looking façade of a restaurant that stands out on a busy street called the “Restaurant Row” in Times Square’s Theater District, catches your eyes. It is “Sushi Seki”, which is well known for its high-quality fresh seafood that they serve, and creative sushi, full of seasonal ingredients that you can enjoy.

Seki Shi, the owner/chef, is from the Fujian Province of China. He went to Tokyo to study at the age of 17. There, he opened his eyes to cooking, and distinguished himself. He went to New York in 1991, and worked at various notable restaurants including “Sushi of Gari” before he became independent, and opened “Sushi Seki” in the Upper East Side District.

Then, he opened two more restaurants 2 years in a row, the second one in Chelsea in January of 2014, and the third one in Times Square in October of 2015. Opening of another in Brooklyn is also in the works. People usually believe that the more authentic the sushi restaurant is, the harder it would be to expand the business to multiply, because in order to have such success, it heavily relies on the capabilities of artisans. I wonder what kind of dynamic power has been supporting this unstoppable advance.

“The Times Square restaurant is hugely different from the other two. It is positioned as the flagship, which represents integrated forms of various styles,” says Yasuyuki Suzuki, the General Manager.

Inside of this restaurant is a luxurious space with 80 seats on the first floor, and 70 on the second floor. Once you step inside, a spacious counter and tables open up in front of you. There is a space called the“Kappo Room” in the back, where a counter, tables, and a communal table are situated facing the open kitchen. On the second floor, there is a bar, where you enjoy mostly Japanese whiskey drinks, terrace tables by the windows, a private Japanese room, and a hide-out-like space where you enjoy omakase-style sushi. This place can accommodate every situation; business meetings, family get-togethers, large groups, couples on a date, or a single customer.

The menu, which used to contain mostly sushi, has been largely evolved. The Kappo cuisine aspect was launched due to Chef Seki’s strong hope and intention to take “restaurant cooking” as a whole, seriously. They serve a wide variety of seasonal a-la-carte dishes. Among them, the “Special Kappo Counter Menu” (from $85), full of both land and ocean ingredients of each season, changes the contents monthly. There are also dishes from which you can feel the changes of Japanese seasons, which you can rarely find in the US such as “Ayu ‘Sweet Fish’ Sansho-Ni”, and “Kogomi ‘Fiddlehead Fern’ with Sesame Sauce”.

There is a menu item, which is unique due to the condition, which is that the restaurant is located in the Theater District. The “Mini Omakase” ($55) is a popular item, which cleverly satisfies both the needs of theater-goers who don’t have much time to eat before shows start, and also the smooth running of the restaurant.

“It is not easy to fill this many seats in this location. To try a vast variety of styles means that it is required to accommodate every customer’s need,” tells Mr. Suzuki about the difficulty of realizing it. He met Seki Shi at “Sushi of Gari” in 2000, when he started his career as a manager. He joined the launch and the operation of the first “Sushi Seki”, but left them for a while between 2005 and 2012, building his career by working for various famous restaurants including “Megu”, “15 East”, and “Sakamai”. When Seki Shi was preparing to open the second Sushi Seki, he was asked to join the project again.

Mr. Suzuki is in charge of managing everything for all the restaurants in the chain except cooking. He acquires customers, hires staff members, teaches them how to serve, and even creates the ambience of each restaurant. By being a leading sake sommelier of New York, he put his strong efforts into creating their drink menus, and contributed to help them win the fabulous “NYC50” award in the “Wine and Spirits Magazine” 2 years in a row. It is very rare that a dink menu from a Japanese restaurant gets selected. In 2017, they were the only Japanese restaurant winner. I was so impressed with not only the good balance they show in every field, the great variety, and the depth, but also the contents which skillfully offer customers the ease of selection, and for the staff to make recommendations.

Mr. Suzuki is supporting the restaurant’s super success by being the other wheel of Seki, by creating drink menus to enhance Seki’s cooking, and handling the management, etc. With his principle, “there is no manual for hospitality”, he produces a superbly comfortable space which possesses both a home-like atmosphere and sophistication.

I would really like you to try “Sushi Seki”, which continue to evolve all the time.


決して進化を止めることのない寿司店『すし石』タイムズスクエア店

タイムズスクエアの劇場街、“レストラン通り” と呼ばれる賑やかな通りに、忽然と現れる純和風の店構えに目を奪われるーここ『すし石』は、高品質で鮮度の高い魚介類を使い、季節感あふれる創作寿司を楽しめることでよく知られる店だ。

 オーナー・シェフの石氏は中国福建省出身。17歳で東京へ留学、そこで料理に目覚め頭角を現した。1991 年にニューヨークに渡り、『Sushi of Gari』をはじめとする名店で活躍後、2002 年に独立。アッパーイースト地区に『すし石』を開店した。

 そして、2014年1月に2店舗目となるチェルシー店、2015 年10 月には3 店舗目となるタイムズスクエア店を立て続けに開店。近々、ブルックリンでの開店計画も進行中だ。本格的な寿司店ほど、職人個人の技量に頼るところが大きく、多店舗展開が難しいと思われがちだが、この快進撃を支える原動力とは一体何だろうか。

 「タイムズスクエア店はこれまでの2店舗とは大きく違う。さまざまな形態を総合的に展開するフラッグシップ店として位置づけている」と語るのは、ジェネラル・マネジャーの鈴木康之氏。

 1階に80席、2階に70席という贅沢な空間。一歩足を踏み入れると、広々としたカウンター席とテーブル席が続く。奥には「Kappo Room」と呼ぶ空間があり、そこにはオープンキッチンに面したカウンター席、テーブル席、コミューナル・テーブルが配置されている。2階に上がると、日本産ウィスキーを中心に楽しめるウィスキー・バー、窓際のテラス席、座敷の個室、おまかせ寿司を楽しめる隠れ家風の空間が存在する。商談、家族連れ、団体、デート、一人など、あらゆるシチュエーションに対応できる仕様だ。

寿司が中心だったメニューも大きく進化。「レストランとして真剣に“料理” に取り組みたい」という石氏の強い意向で割烹料理を開始した。月替わりで、四季折々の山海の恵みが満載の「割烹おまかせ(85ドル〜) 」のほか、バラエティ豊かなアラカルトを提供。稚鮎の山椒煮やこごみの胡麻和えなど、米国ではなかなか味わえない日本の季節感だ。

 また、劇場街という特殊な立地ならではの試み「ミニおまかせ(55 ドル)」も提供。観劇前で食事時間が十分取れない客からの要望と、店側の運営円滑化を見事に両立させた内容で、好評を博している。

 「この立地でこの席数を埋めるのは簡単ではない。さまざまな形態に取り組むということは、あらゆる客のニーズに応える必要があるということ」と、その難しさを語る鈴木氏。同氏は、マネジメントとしてのキャリアを開始した2000年に『Sushi of Gari』で石氏と出会った。その後、『すし石』1 号店の開店・運営に携わった後、いったん離れ、2005 〜12年は『Megu』『15 East』『Sakamai』など、数々の名店で実績を重ねた。そして、石氏が2 号店の開店準備を進めている時、「再び一緒にやってほしい」と請われた。

 鈴木氏は、全店で、集客、スタッフ採用・教育、接客、店の雰囲気作りに至るまで、料理以外のマネジメントを統括する。さらに、ニューヨークを代表する酒ソムリエでもある同氏は、飲料メニューにも力を注ぎ、『Wine and Spirits Magazine』で2 年連続「NYC50」に選ばれるという快挙を成し遂げた。日本食店の飲料メニューが選出されるのは非常に稀で、2017 年は同店のみだ。それぞれの分野でのバランスの良さ、種類の多さや奥深さに驚かされるだけでなく、客にとっての選びやすさとスタッフにとっての勧めやすさを両立させた内容は、「さすが」の一言に尽きる。

石氏の料理を引き立てる飲料メニュー、シェフとしての石氏を支えるマネジメント…という具合に、鈴木氏が両輪のひとつとなり、同店の快進撃を支える。「ホスピタリティにマニュアルはない」という信条で、家庭的な雰囲気とお洒落さを併せ持つ、絶妙な居心地の良さを演出する。

 常に進化し続ける『すし石』、ぜひ足を運んでみてほしい。



Sushi Seki
(Flagship-Times Square)
365 West 46th Street
New York, NY 10036
Tel: (212) 262-8880
http://www.sushiseki.com/

Mon. 5:00pm-11:00pm
Tues.-Sat. 5:00pm-12:00am
#alljapannews #sushi #SushiSeki #NY #restaurant

ワオ!と言っているユーザー

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


テイクアウトとおまかせ、一見真逆のコンセプトを見事に融合

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

ワオ!と言っているユーザー

Casual and authentic noodles you can enjoy at the secret hideout of a high-end kaiseki cuisine restaurant

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Casual and authentic noodles y... Casual and authentic noodles y... Casual and authentic noodles y... Casual and authentic noodles y... Casual and authentic noodles y... Casual and authentic noodles y... Casual and authentic noodles y... Casual and authentic noodles y... Casual and authentic noodles y... Casual and authentic noodles y... Casual and authentic noodles y...
By Aya Ota

“Brushstroke” is a kaiseki cuisine restaurant collaboration by chef Bouley, a leading French chef in New York, and TSUJI Culinary Institute. Even now, 7 years after the opening, their dishes, in which tradition and innovation are harmonized well by using local capturing New Yorker’s hearts, and raved highly by various media outlets.

“Noodle Bar” has been running since the end of last year in a corner of this restaurant “Brushstroke”, and has become the talk of the town.

“I am so excited about this new attempt,” says Isao Yamada, Executive Chef, with his eyes shining. “Noodle Bar” is a space that looks like a hideout with only 14 seats, which is located on the opposite side of the main dining area. Whenever its purpose changed, some changes were made to this space, and collected a lot of attention every time. It used to be the cocktail bar when first opened, and then changed to the omakase-style sushi bar. After closing the sushi bar, the space was closed unused for over half a year while the next concept of the project was being thought out. “People tend to think kaiseki cuisine is not very approachable, so we want different types of customers,” they thought. After the trial and error period, Chef Kyoji Noda, who has experience in showing skills at a ramen restaurant in the past, they came up with the noodle bar concept based on the trial ramen dish he created, which grew bigger in no time.

There are 5 noodle dishes on the menu. The most popular dish is “Brushstroke Tonkotsu Ramen” ($17). Incidentally, both Chef Yamada and Chef Noda are from Fukuoka which is known for Tonkotsu ramen. This is the dish created by those two with ultimate particularity. The soup that has been cooked for 4 days by cracking pork bones in the process is so rich that a film of collagen forms in a few minutes after the bowl is served at the table. It looks like a typical bowl of tonkotsu ramen; however, it tastes classically delicate, and makes a clear distinction from other tonkotsu ramen bowls. It is worth carrying the honorable restaurant name. In the “Duck Original 7 Miso Ramen” ($17), the original blend of miso is mixed into the soup which has been cooked one full day until the soup turns white and cloudy. The soup turns out to have a mild taste by blending various types of miso, white, red, inaka, moromi, etc., and matches extremely well with the tenderly cooked duck chashu.

The corn/kombu dashi based “Roasted Sweet Corn Butter Soy Sauce Ramen” ($15) is uniquely sweet and creamy, and has an interesting twist of changing the taste by adding cumin as you eat. There are 2 udon dishes. “Maine Lobster Kishimen Udon” ($26) which has springy and chewy lobster pieces on top of the soy milk based lobster umami flavored soup, and “Sashimi Kishimen Udon” ($57), where plentiful of seasonal sashimi pieces are served with dashi in which bonito shavings are generously used.


高級懐石料理店の隠れ家で食べる、カジュアルで本格的なヌードル

ニューヨークを代表する仏料理シェフ・ブーレイと辻調理師専門学校の提携による懐石料理店『Brushstroke』。四季折々の地元食材を取り入れた、伝統と斬新さが調和する料理は、開店後7年経った今でもニューヨーカーを虜にし、数々のメディアで賞賛され続けている。この『Brushstroke』の一角で、昨年暮れから『Noodle Bar』がスタートし、話題になっている。

「この新しい試みにワクワクしている」と目を輝かせて語るのは、料理長を務める山田勲氏。『Noodle Bar』が設置されているのは、メインダイニングとは反対側に位置する、たった14席しかない隠れ家のような空間。開店当初はカクテルバー、その後はおまかせ寿司バーと、内容が変わるたびに注目を浴びながら変遷してきたスペースだが、寿司バー閉店後は、次の構想を練りながら半年以上も閉めていたという。「懐石料理はどうしても敷居が高いと思われがち。これまでとは違う客層を呼びたい」と試行錯誤する中、ラーメン店で腕を振るった経験を持つ野田恭司シェフが試作したラーメンに着想を得て、一気にヌードルバーの構想が膨らんだ。

麺類メニューは5種類。一番人気は「Brushstrokeとんこつラーメン」($17)。奇しくも、山田・野田両氏は、とんこつラーメンで有名な福岡出身で、その二人がこだわり抜いて創り上げた一品だ。豚骨を砕きながら丸4日間煮込んで作るスープは、テーブルに運ばれてわずか数分で表面にコラーゲン膜が浮かぶほど濃度が高い。見た目は王道のとんこつラーメンだが、上品で繊細な味に仕上がり、店名を冠するだけあり他店とは一線を画する。「鴨ネギ 7種合わせ味噌ラーメン」($17)は、ローストした鴨骨を、白濁するまで丸一日煮込んだスープに、独自配合の味噌を合わせる。白、赤、田舎味噌、もろみ…など複数の味噌を合わせることで、より複雑でまろやかな風味になり、ほろりと柔らかい鴨肉チャーシューとの相性も抜群だ。

トウモロコシと昆布で出汁をとった「醤油バターコーンラーメン」($15)は、甘さとクリーミーさが特徴的で、途中クミンを加えて味を変えるという趣向がおもしろい。うどんは2種類、ロブスターの旨味が効いた豆乳ベースのスープにぷりぷりとした食感のロブスターが乗った「ロブスター豆乳きし麺うどん」($26)、鰹節を贅沢に使った出汁に旬の刺身をふんだんに盛り付けた「刺身きし麺うどん」($57)がある。5種類すべて違うスープと具材を用意し、どれも他店では食べられない創意工夫に富んだ内容だ。季節限定「春野菜チキンラーメン」($17)を提供しているのも、さすが季節感を大事にする懐石料理店ならではだ。

サイドメニューもバラエティ豊か。宮崎和牛やホタテをぎっしり詰めた餃子、和牛ミンチやソフトシェルクラブを挟んだバンズ、鴨のもも肉の竜田揚げなど、カジュアルな仕上がりだが特別感がある。一人で来店しても、ラーメンに合わせやすいようにという心配りで、小ぶりなサイズかつ手頃な値段で提供される。ヌードルバーのメニューは、懐石料理店とは一切かぶらず、すべて別に用意しているという、徹底したこだわりにも驚かされる。オリジナル・カクテルも、懐石料理店とヌードルバーでは違うメニューを楽しめる。

「懐石料理とは違う客にアプローチしたい」という目論見は見事にヒット。 “高級懐石料理店が創るヌードル”という特別感に心引かれるのだろう、ヌードルバーには新規顧客が気軽に訪れるようになった。また、懐石料理店の常連客もヌードルバーに訪れ、両方の客が好循環を生み出している。トライベッカ地区にこれまで本格的なヌードル店がなかったこともあり、地元客も多く訪れているという。

高級懐石料理店の隠れ家で食べるラーメンやうどん…このギャップが、この上ない特別感を演出してくれる。

Noodle Bar at Brushstroke
30 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 791-3771
https://brushstrokenyc.com/
Mon.-Sat. 5:30pm-10:30pm
Lunch on Fridays and Saturdays
(from 11:30am to 2:45pm)
#alljapannews #noodle #Japanese #Brushstroke #NY #ramen #udon #kaiseki

ワオ!と言っているユーザー

A Japanese sake bar that provides at-home cooking and a relaxing space

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A Japanese sake bar that prov... A Japanese sake bar that prov... A Japanese sake bar that prov... A Japanese sake bar that prov... A Japanese sake bar that prov... A Japanese sake bar that prov... A Japanese sake bar that prov... A Japanese sake bar that prov... A Japanese sake bar that prov... A Japanese sake bar that prov... A Japanese sake bar that prov...
By Aya Ota

Sake Bar Satsko” stands like a hide-out in a corner of Alphabet City in the East Village District. As soon as you step into the space, you feel so comfortable and nostalgic, like you have just come home. You almost can’t help saying, “Tadaima (I’m Home! In Japanese). Everybody in the restaurant looks relaxed in an intimate and family-like ambience, and you cannot tell the difference between the staff and the customers.

The owner, Satsko Watanabe opened this place in 2004. The 3 years prior to the opening were periods of struggling and researching for her. While struggling with raising a child as a single mother, she worked as a database designer for a company for 25 years. Exhausted from working in the competitive and ever-changing IT industry for so long, she decided to quit, and became a home-maker.

After a year or so of being at home, she thought, “I want to do something creative like flower arrangements,” and knocked on the door of a flower shop, and made a proposal. “Please teach me flower arrangements. In return, I am willing to work for free.” For a while, she could neither learn the flower business, nor make friends with the co-workers, but she just kept going there. One day, she started to bring a lot of home-cooked dishes to give to the co-workers at lunch time. Her flower arranging skills were still not quite at an approved level, but her cooking was raved by everyone, which quickly shortened the distance between her and the co-workers. She could have kept working at the flower shop, but she was slowly realizing that what one can be most passionate about in life is eating and drinking. She thought, “New York is a lonely city. I want to create a place where people gather and relax, enjoying home-style meals and sake,” and opened a café-style restaurant. Then, obtaining a liquor license a half year later, she has been running the place as “Sake Bar Satsko” since then.

Back then, in New York, there were not many bars where mainly Japanese sake was served. Sake was not quite recognized yet, so her place was a pioneer in this field. Most of the customers were thinking that Japanese sake was meant to be served hot, so Satsko repeatedly held tasting events in order to enlighten customers with the right ways to enjoy tasty Japanese sake. They say that it is important to educate bartenders to stretch sake sales. Her restaurant has 5 bartenders, and the sake brands for which those bartenders know well, make good sales.

“Customers don’t come unless the food tastes good,” says Satsko. Although the name is “Sake Bar”, the food menu is well thought out, and their motto is to create simple dishes using fresh ingredients. For a while, the dishes, which gained positive feedback from the co-workers at the flower shop were mainly served. Later, her daughter, Amy, who was born and raised in the US, who has a keen sense in tasting foods, suggested arrangements to her mother’s original recipes, which created newly re-born dishes. Each dish is homey yet, innovative, and the tastes make one want to have more sake to go with it.

Most of the customers are acquired by word of mouth. To let Americans know, they advertise only through Google. You cannot say that the location is ideal; however, they are so popular lately, having 4 rotations on weekends, and reservations are always required. Sometimes, you see a bunch of people waiting outside. The Polaroid photos that tightly fill the interior walls used to be taken as the proof of visited customers when they were not yet popular. Now it is a laughing matter. They always try to talk to first-time customers and single visitors, which may be one of the reasons for the restaurant to provide such a comfortable ambience.

“I’d like to help our bartenders become independent and open their own places in the future,” says Satsko. Great tasting meals and sake, and a warm ambience in which customers can make friends – you should be able to see this Japanese sake community, which was created by 14 years in the making, expanding not very long
from now.


家庭的な料理とくつろげる空間を提供する日本酒バー

イーストヴィレッジ地区・アルファベットシティの一角に隠れ家のように佇む『Sake Bar Satsko』。足を一歩踏み入れた瞬間に、自分の家に帰ってきたような居心地の良さや懐かしさを感じ、おもわず「ただいま」と言ってしまいそうになる。店内では、客とスタッフの区別がつかないくらい、誰もが家族のような親密な雰囲気でくつろいでいる。

オーナーの渡邊さつ子氏が、同店を開店したのは2004年のことだ。開店に至るまでの約3年は、さつ子氏にとっては葛藤と模索の時期だった。シングルマザーとして子育てに奮闘しながら、企業のデータベースデザイナーとして約25年務めた後、競争と変化の激しいIT業界に疲弊し、仕事を離れて主婦になることを決意。

約1年、主婦をした後、「フラワーアレンジメントのようなクリエイティブなことがしたい」と思い立ち、花屋の扉を叩き、「無償で働く代わりにフラワーアレンジメントを教えてほしい」と申し出た。しばらくは、花の仕事は何も分からず、職場の人とも親しくなれず、店に通うだけの日々が続いた。ある時からさつ子氏は、家庭料理をどっさり作って職場に持参し、昼食に振る舞うようになった。花屋では、フラワーアレンジメントの能力はなかなか評価されなかったが、さつ子氏の料理をみんなが美味しいと言って食べてくれ、職場の仲間との距離も縮まっていった。そのままずっと花屋で働き続けることもできたかもしれないが、さつ子氏は、次第に、「人生で一番情熱を傾けることができるのは、食べること・飲むことだ」と気づく。そして「ニューヨークは孤独な街。人々が集まって、家庭的な食事とお酒を楽しみながら、くつろげる場所を作りたい」という想いで、カフェ開店を開店。その半年後にリカーライセンスを取得して『Sake Bar Satsko』と店名を変更し、今に至る。

当時のニューヨークには、日本酒を中心に出すバーも少なく、日本酒の認知度もまだ低かったので、同店はパイオニア的な存在だった。日本酒は熱燗で飲むものと思っている客が多く、さつ子氏は、ティスティングを繰り返し、日本酒の美味しさや飲み方を啓蒙してきた。また、日本酒の売り上げを伸ばすにはバーテンダーの教育が重要だという。同店にはバーテンダーが5人いるが、やはり、彼らが熟知している酒がよく売れるという。

「料理が美味しくないと客は来ない」とさつ子氏は語る。同店は、Sake Barと名乗っているものの、食事メニューに力を入れており、新鮮な食材を使ってシンプルに作ることをモットーにしている。開店後しばらくは、さつ子氏が花屋で働いていた時に仲間からよいフィードバックを得た料理を中心に提供してきた。その後、米国で生まれ育った娘のエイミーが、母が考案したオリジナルのレシピに、彼女の優れた食の感覚でアレンジを加え、新しい料理に生まれ変わった。どれも家庭的だが、斬新さを兼ね備え、思わず酒が進むような味付けだ。

集客はほとんど口コミ。米国人をターゲットにGoogle広告だけは出している。同店の立地は、決して地の利がよいと言える場所ではないが、最近では週末には4回転、予約をしなければ座れないほどの人気で、時には店の外に客があふれることもあるという。店内の壁にびっしり貼ってあるポラロイド写真は、まだ客が少なかった頃に、客が来た証拠として撮影し始めたものだという。今となっては、すっかり笑い話だ。初めて来る客、一人で来る客には、必ず話しかけるようにしており、それが同店の居心地の良さにつながっているのだろう。

「将来はバーテンダーたちが独立開店するのを支援していきたい」とさつ子氏。美味しい食事と酒、そして、客同士がすぐに友達になれるような暖かい雰囲気――14年かけて創り上げてきたこの日本酒コミュニティが広がる日も、そう遠くないに違いない。



Sake Bar Satsko
202 East 7th Street
New York, NY 10009
Tel: 212-614-0933
https://www.satsko.com/
Sun.-Thurs. 5:00pm-2:00am
Fri. & Sat. 5:00pm-4:00am
#alljapannews #sakebarsatsko #athome #NY #sushi #tempura

ワオ!と言っているユーザー

Introducing the “Japan quality” to the world, that Japan is so proud of

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Introducing the... Introducing the... Introducing the... Introducing the... Introducing the... Introducing the...
By Aya Ota

In a corner of the busy Midtown East District, you will find a heavy dignified looking door with a family crest design. As soon as you step into the space behind the door, the crisp air is felt like from another world. It is “MIFUNE New York” opened in the summer of 2017 as the first US restaurant by Tokyo Restaurant Factory Inc., which has established 40 restaurants in Japan, most of them serving high-end Japanese cuisine.

“While introducing the Japan quality, I would like to make a lot of Japan fans all over the world,” so told Mr. Hiroyuki Morishima, General Manager/Overseas Business Division Chief of the restaurant, about their mission. The name of the restaurant was taken from Toshiro Mifune, a prominent Japanese actor, who was known as “Mifune of the World”. The name was chosen as such that deserves to represent Japan, and carry the responsibility to go to the world. The company has a deep connection to the Mifune Production, and Toshiro Mifune himself was once passionately involved in restaurant related businesses. So, the name also holds an intension to inherit Toshiro Mifune’s old dream, and also to reintroduce his greatness.

As the name suggests, the consistent natural style and modern and international sense of Japan co-exist in “MIFUNE New York”.

While holding values of traditional Japanese cuisine, their dishes are combined with French cuisine techniques, which made them so unique that you cannot experience anywhere else. The menu was created by Hiroki Yoshitake, owner/chef of “Sola”, a Michelin starred Paris restaurant. The New York kitchen is led by Yuu Shimano, a strong-skilled executive chef, who has the experience of displaying his skills in a Michelin 3-starred restaurant in Paris. Their dishes, using plentiful local seasonal ingredients, are presented beautifully and delicately on plates made by Japanese craftsmanship, and they are picturesque, colorful and elegant, and so breath-taking that they make you leak a sigh. You see no sign of compromise from any of those dishes which are created one by one so diligently. I would really like you to try their original signature cocktails, too. They were created by a bartender, Shingo Gokan who is a winner of the World’s Cocktail Championship, and entertain you with their names taken from the films in which Toshiro Mifune starred in, and the ingredients using Japanese foods and sake. They also have “sushi AMANE” hidden in the basement, which has only 8 seats, and serves omakase-style sushi. The chef, Uino Shion, is a young elite from “Sushi Saito”, a prominent 3 consecutive Michelin 3-star winning restaurant in Tokyo. “sushi AMANE” has become a legend in no time by winning a Michelin star only 3 months after its opening, which was the fastest in New York.

“MIFUNE New York”——you may say that it is a stage where Japanese proud young talents compete.

“I wanted to make it in New York where people of diverse races and cultural backgrounds live and lead the trends, and only true things can survive,” says Mr. Moriyama as the reason for choosing New York for their first restaurant in the US. At the beginning, doing business in New York was much harder than he expected. However, they have surely been increasing the number of customers including repeaters as they have improved the menu and services flexibly since opening while they carefully observe the customer reactions. Due to its high-end ambience and price setting, people tend to use it for special occasions such as anniversaries, so their current issue is how to have more people come and use it more casually. There is a counter space near the entrance, a dining space with an open feel with a high ceiling, and private room-like divided table section in the basement, which should allow you to enjoy in various situations such as dating, group dining, entertaining guests, etc. They also wish to appeal to a wider range of people by planning a cocktail paring event with Shingo Gokan, expanding seasonal menus etc.

Mr. Morishima continues, “I want MIFUNE New York to be not only a restaurant, but also a place where people who gather there realize their dreams. I will be happy if we can motivate such a thing.” Mr. Morishima used to work in a different industry. He himself is one of those who keep trying to realize his dreams. I was surprised to know that he is already planning to open a yakitori restaurant this spring in the West Village District. I want to keep my eyes open for the Japan quality this company keeps sending out to the world.


日本が誇るジャパン・クオリティを世界に向けて発信

賑やかなミッドタウンイースト地区の一角、家紋をあしらった重厚感ある扉を押して足を踏み入れると、一瞬にして別世界に入り込んだような凜とした空気が流れる。『MIFUNE New York』——高級和食店を中心に日本国内で約40店舗を展開する『東京レストランツファクトリー株式会社』の北米進出第一号店として、2017年夏に開店した店だ。

「世界に向けてジャパン・クオリティを発信し、日本ファンを作りたい」と、同社のミッションを語るのは、同店ジェネラルマネジャー兼海外事業部責任者を務める森嶋博之氏。店名は、“世界のミフネ”と呼ばれた俳優の三船敏郎氏から取ったもの。世界進出にあたり、日本を代表し日本を背負っていくのにふさわしい名前として選んだ。同社は三船プロダクションと深い縁があり、三船敏郎氏もかつて飲食ビジネスに情熱を注いでいたこともあり、「三船敏郎氏の夢を受け継ぎ、偉大さを伝えたい」という意図も込められている。

『MIFUNE New York』には、その店名が語る通り、一本筋の通った日本らしさとモダンな国際感覚が共存している。

料理は、和食の伝統を重んじつつも、フランス料理の技法を取り入れた、他では味わうことのできない独創的な内容。ミシュラン星を獲得したパリのレストラン『Sola』のオーナーシェフとして活躍する吉武広樹氏が創り上げたメニューだ。

ニューヨークの厨房を仕切るのはエグゼクティブ・シェフの島野雄氏。パリのミシュラン三つ星レストランで腕を振るった実績を持つ実力派だ。四季折々の地元食材をふんだんに使い、陶芸作家による美しい和食器に、繊細に盛り付けられた料理の数々……絵画のような色彩感覚と優雅さに、感嘆のため息が漏れる。一品一品、丁寧に作り込まれた皿からは、一切の妥協を感じない。同店オリジナルのシグネチャー・カクテルもぜひ試してほしい。カクテル世界大会優勝者のバーテンダー、後閑信吾氏が考案したもので、三船敏郎氏が出演した映画にちなんだネーミングと、和食材や酒を使った内容で楽しませてくれる。そして、地下には隠れ家のようにひっそりと、8席のみでおまかせ寿司を提供する『sushi AMANE』が存在する。シェフの宇井野詩音氏は、8年連続ミシュラン三つ星を獲得する東京の名店『鮨 さいとう』から抜擢された若き精鋭。『sushi AMANE』はニューヨーク・ミシュラン史上最速、開店後3カ月で星を獲得し、瞬く間に伝説を打ち立てた。

『MIFUNE New York』——ここは、日本が誇る若い才能が競演する舞台のような存在なのかもしれない。

「さまざまな民族・文化的背景のある人々が住み、流行の最先端を行くニューヨーク。本物だけが生き残れるこの街で挑戦したい」と、森嶋氏は、北米進出第一号店としてニューヨークを選んだ理由を話す。ニューヨークでのビジネスは、当初想像していた以上に厳しいものだった。しかし、開店以来、来客の反応を見ながら、メニューやサービスを柔軟に改善し、着実に集客数を伸ばしリピーターも増えているという。同店の雰囲気や価格から、記念日など特別な機会に利用される傾向が高いというが、今後は、もっと気軽に使ってもらうことが課題だ。同店の入口付近にはカウンター、奥には天井が高い開放的なダイニング、地下には個室風に仕切られたテーブル席があり、デートから仲間との食事会、接待まで多くのシチュエーションで楽しめる。今後、後閑晋吾氏とのカクテル・ペアリング・イベントなども企画し、季節のメニューを拡充するなどして、さらに幅広い層を取り込んでいきたいと考えている。

「MIFUNE New Yorkはレストランでありながらも、集まった人々が夢を実現させる場所でありたい。そして、その原動力になれるとうれしい」と森嶋氏は続ける。森嶋氏自身も全くの異業種から転職し、夢に向けて挑戦し続ける一人でもある。そして、もうすでに、この春にはウェストビレッジ地区に焼き鳥店を出店予定だというので驚きだ。同社が世界に発信するジャパン・クオリティ、これからも注目していきたい。



MIFUNE New York
245 E 44th Street
New York, NY 10017
Tel: 212-986-2800(MIFUNE New York)/212−986−5300(sushi AMANE)
https://www.mifune-restaurant.com/

Lunch: Mon – Fri 11:30am – 2:30pm
Dinner: Mon – Sat 6:00pm – 11:30pm
#alljapannews #NY #MIFUNE #Japan #quality #French

ワオ!と言っているユーザー

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

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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.


モダンで洗練された空間で、ラーメンや創作和食を楽しむ

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。

店名の『ROKI』は『Benihana』創業者のロッキー青木氏の名前から取った。

"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。

ROKI Le IZAKAYA
12 West 21st Street
New York, NY 10010
(646) 383-7654
https://www.rokileizakaya.com/

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

ワオ!と言っているユーザー

First in the world! Ginjo event held at the United Nations Headquarters: Part I

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By Kosuke Kuji

The first Ginjo event in the world was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York several years ago. This was the first Japanese sake event held in the world inside the United Nations headquarters by the “Japan Premium Sake Association,” of which I’m also a member, jointly with the Japanese Government.

To briefly describe the background that led to this first Ginjo sake event held at the United Nations in the world, the organization “Japan Premium Sake Association” (of which I’m a member) was founded in 1981 with an ambitious goal to make Ginjo sake widespread and casually enjoyed throughout Japan, at a time when Ginjo sake was produced only as submissions for sake competitions, even in Japan.

Sake in the Japanese market at the time consisted mostly of sake brands advertised in commercials produced by major sake producers. At the time, sake was distinguished mostly as first or second grade sake, with special-designation sake such as Junmai not yet distributed.

At a time when sake was not named according to the production method or sake ingredients, most sake such as Ginjo and Junmai were all classified as “second grade.”

The National Tax Administration Agency sponsored the only competition for domestic sake production techniques in Japan at the time, the “Annual Japan Sake Awards.” The sake production techniques used for the Daiginjo recognized with the Gold Prize was used on a trial-and-error basis to produce sake that would sell in the market.

While this was an impossible feat for one company alone, forty-three breweries awarded the Gold Prize during the Annual Japan Sake Awards gathered at the time to make quality Ginjo sake widespread in the domestic market.
To be continued in the next issue…


酒豪大陸 「世界初!国連(UN)本部での吟醸酒の会 その1」

ニューヨークにある国際連合(国連 UN)本部で、世界初の吟醸酒の会が数年前に開催されました。国連本部内での日本酒のイベントは世界初で、その世界で初めての酒の会を私も加盟する「日本吟醸酒協会」という団体と、日本国政府との共催で行いました。

この世界初の国連での吟醸酒の会が開催されるまでの経緯についてお話させていただきますと、私たちが所属する「日本吟醸酒協会」という団体は、1981年に発足し、まだ吟醸酒が日本国内でも鑑評会の酒でしかなかった時代に、吟醸酒を日本中で普通に飲めるように普及させていこう、という大きな目標を掲げました。

その当時の日本国の日本酒は、大手メーカーの大量導入されたCMのお酒がほとんどで、まだ純米酒や吟醸酒などの特定名称酒が流通しておらず、ほとんどすべてが「1級」「2級」と言った級別で区分けされていました。

製造方法や、原材料によって名前を名乗ることが出来ない時代で、今の吟醸酒や純米酒などのお酒は全て「2級」に分類されておりました。

そんな中、当時は国税庁が主催していた、日本で結一の日本国内の日本酒の技術コンテスト「全国新酒鑑評会」というものがあり、そこで金賞を受賞した大吟醸の技術を使って作った酒を何とか市場で売れないか、試行錯誤していた時代でした。

1社では出来ませんが、全国新酒鑑評会金賞受賞の蔵元が43社も当時集まって、この素晴らしい吟醸酒を世の中に広めていこうと立ち上がりました。

続きは次回になります。
#alljapannews #sake #ginjo #NY #junmai

ワオ!と言っているユーザー

WOKUNI Spreading Japan’s high-quality fresh seafood to the world

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WOKUNI Spreadin... WOKUNI Spreadin... WOKUNI Spreadin... WOKUNI Spreadin... WOKUNI Spreadin... WOKUNI Spreadin... WOKUNI Spreadin... WOKUNI Spreadin... WOKUNI Spreadin...
By Aya Ota

“WOKUNI”, an innovative restaurant which offers fresh seafood cultivated directly from their own self-operated aqua-farm in Nagasaki, appeared in Midtown in late October, and has become the talk of the town.

“I would like to spread the Japanese food culture in which people eat fresh seafood, to the world,” says Daiichi Sakamoto, President of Tokyo Ichiban Foods (the company is listed with the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange). This company opened a fugu (blowfish) specialty restaurant called “Torafugu Tei” first in 1996 in Shinjuku, Tokyo, and since then, they have developed a restaurant chain of 50 restaurants specialized in seafood in the Kanto area including “Torafugu Tei” and “Uohkuni”, etc.

With the company’s philosophy, “to serve high quality food ingredients at reasonable prices”, they launched their own aqua-farm in 2011. They are Japan’s one and only food service company which handles everything by themselves including producing, processing, and selling of seafood.

The sales points of “WOKUNI”, their first overseas development, are undoubtedly their own brand tuna and adult yellowtail. Their own aquafarm is located in a cove flourishing with nature, where the clear stream of Yasumandake, the highest peak of Hirado City, Nagasaki prefecture, and Tsushima Ocean current meet. They conduct an environment-friendly sustainable cultivation by not catching young fish until they grow to become as large as 50 kilograms or more, etc. They also follow through with quality control by feeding fish with human-consumable fresh sardine and mackerel. I was impressed to know that they produce tuna and yellowtail, considering American customers who do not care for the fishy smell by making adjustments with the foods for the fish. They are the most particular about freshness. Normally, it would take 5 days for the fish to arrive at the restaurant if distributed through the fish market, but for them, it takes only 48 hours because they use their own distribution route to directly send fish from the aqua-farm. The fish are never frozen in the direct shipping, so the quality and taste stay its best. Cultivating fish in its own fishing ground makes consistent supplying possible, and also their own distributing system allows them to keep the prices as low as 60 to 70% of the normal distributing system. In addition to their own tuna and yellowtail, other naturally-caught fish is procured through their own distribution system every week from Tsukiji and various Kyushu areas, and overall, 80 to 90% of their fish is from Japan. The rich variety on the menu that includes not only sushi and sashimi, but also hot grilled, fried, and BBQed dishes, and cold dishes such as tartar, carpaccio, etc., allows you to enjoy the goodness of seafood fully. 30 brands of Japanese sake are strictly selected with the view of “best pairing with the seafood” in mind. From the end of November, they started to serve lunch, and the items such as seafood bowls, chirashi sushi, unagi bowls, etc., are served with reasonable pricing.

“There is no other country but Japan in which such high-quality seafood can be caught naturally or cultivated. I would like to spread the splendidness of Japanese seafood culture from New York, which can be called the Capital of the world,“ says Mr. Sakamoto as his reason to have chosen New York as the base for the company’s first overseas development. While popularity of sushi and sashimi grows bigger, fish consuming population seems to grow every year by one hundred million globally. “I am surprised that customers’ fish consumption is much larger than I originally expected. I feel that we must set our future prospects by looking at the world from now on,” continued Mr. Sakamoto. At “WOKUNI”, most of their customers are local Americans. After the grand opening,they have been making adjustments in the details of the menu structure, food volume, presentation, tastes, etc. according to the customers’ reactions. Their American customers are speaking highly about the restaurant, saying “It is a place where you can eat high-quality sushi and sashimi at reasonable prices”.

In the future, he wants to expand not only the restaurant business, but the company’s own brand of tuna and yellowtail wholesale business, basing WOKUNI. They keep challenging the world as a general fisheries company. He is very enthusiastic about becoming the base of spreading Japanese food culture itself, not to mention seafood.


日本の高品質な鮮魚を世界に向けて発信

長崎の自社漁場から直送する鮮魚を提供する画期的な店『WOKUNI』(うおくに)が、2017年10月末、ミッドタウンに登場して話題になっている。

「新鮮な魚を食する日本の食文化を世界に広めたい」と語るのは『東京一番フーズ』(東証一部上場企業)の代表取締役社長、坂本大地氏。同社は、1996年に、ふぐ料理専門店『とらふぐ亭』を東京・新宿に開店して以来、現在では、関東地方中心に『とらふぐ亭』や『魚王KUNI』など、魚介料理を強みにしたレストラン約50 店舗を展開している。同社では「こだわりの食材を手頃な価格で提供したい」という理念を持ち、2011年に自社漁場に着手。魚類の生産、加工、販売まで一貫して手がける日本唯一の外食産業だ。

同社の海外初進出店となる『WOKUNI』の目玉は、なんと言っても、自社ブランドのマグロとブリだ。自社漁場は、長崎県平戸市最高峰の安満岳の清流と対馬海流が流れ込む、自然の恵み豊かな入り江に位置している。稚魚の乱獲をせずに50 キロ以上になるまで大きく育てるなど、環境にも配慮したサステナブルな養殖方法を採用。そして、人も食べられる鮮度のイワシやサバを餌として与え、品質管理を徹底している。魚臭を苦手に感じる米国人顧客を意識して、餌を工夫して、魚臭が少ないマグロやブリを生産していることにも驚かされる。一番のこだわりは鮮度だ。通常、市場を介して流通した場合、約5 日かかるところ、自社ルートで漁場からレストランへ直送するため、たった48 時間で到着するという。一切冷凍せずに直送するため、品Interior Exterior質や味の点でも引けを取らない。自社漁場で生産するので安定供給も可能で、市場を介さず自社流通するため価格も約60 〜70%に抑えられる。このマグロとブリ以外にも、独自の流通ルートを通して、築地市場や九州各地から天然魚を毎週取り寄せており、店全体で使う魚介類の8 〜9 割が日本産だ。メニューは、寿司や刺身はもちろんのこと、焼き物、揚げ物、串焼きなどの温菜から、タルタルやカルパッチョなどの冷菜まで豊富に揃い、魚介類の魅力を味わい尽くすことができる。日本酒は“ 魚と合わせて美味しい”という観点で厳選し約30種類用意している。11 月末からはランチもスタート、海鮮丼やちらし寿司、ウナギ丼などを手頃な価格で提供している。

「天然も養殖も、これだけ高品質な魚介類が捕れる国は、日本以外にない。世界の食の首都とも言えるニューヨーク、世界中から多くの人が集まるニューヨークから、日本の魚介類のすばらしさを発信していきたい」と、坂本氏は海外初の拠点をニューヨークに定めた理由を語る。寿司や刺身の人気が高まる中、世界的に見て、魚食人口は毎年1 億人ずつ増えていると言われている。「お客様が魚を食べる量が、当初予想していたよりもはるかに多くて驚いている。これからは世界を見据えていかないといけない」と坂本氏。同店では、顧客のほとんどが地元米国人。グランドオープニング後は、顧客の反応を見ながら、メニュー構成や、ボリュームや盛り付け方、味付けなど、細かい点で見直しをかけているという。米国人客からも「高品質な寿司や刺身をリーズナブルに食べることができる」と好評だ。

今後はこの『WOKUNI』を拠点に、レストラン事業だけでなく、自社ブランドのマグロやブリの卸売り事業を広げていきたいと考えている。“ 総合水産企業”として、世界へ挑戦し続けている。魚介類はもちろんのこと、日本食文化そのものの発信拠点にもなりたいと意欲的だ。



WOKUNI
325 Lexington Ave.
New York, NY 10016
(212) 447-1212
http://wokuninyc.com
Dinner Mon.-Fri. 5:00pm-10:30pm
Lunch Mon.Fri.11:30am-2:45pm
Sunday Closed
#alljapannews #wokuni #NY #restaurant #seafood #sashimi #sushi #Japanese

ワオ!と言っているユーザー

Bringing peace of mind to New Yorkers by spreading the practice of Japanese tea ceremony

スレッド
Bringing peace of mind to New... Bringing peace of mind to New... Bringing peace of mind to New... Bringing peace of mind to New... Bringing peace of mind to New... Bringing peace of mind to New... Bringing peace of mind to New...
By Aya Ota

“I need to spread the practice of Japanese Tea Ceremony in New York!” Soheki Mori, tea master, thought intuitively when she visited New York 22 years ago.

“Such a busy city should seek spiritual consolation which the tea ceremony can bring.” Since then, Soheki visited New York every year for 15 years in a row while seriously mastering the tea ceremony in Japan.

In 2011, she moved to the US with her husband, Junya Mori, who is also her business partner. Shortly after their move, the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred, which made them feel even more determined about spreading the practice of Japanese tea ceremony. While they were looking for something to do to support Japan’s disaster areas, the language school they were attending made a suggestion, that was to submit the tea ceremony experience as a charity auction. Since then, they held charity tea ceremony events frequently, and in 2015, they finally found a company to spread such activities more widely. Then, in April of 2017, they opened a long-awaited tea house, “Setsugekka”.

The word, “Setsugekka” in Japanese, consists of 3 Chinese characters, Setsu (snow), Getsu (moon), and Ka (flowers), which expresses Japanese seasonal beauty. As the name suggests, once you step into the shop, the chaos of the East Village vanishes instantly, and you feel as if you stepped into a different world. A space of tatami mats imported from Japan is set up near the entrance, and there is counter space in the back. It is a beautiful and sophisticated looking place.

In order for the customers to fully enjoy matcha, the main item, they offer many ways to serve it. You can choose your favorite type of container (ceramic bowl, paper cup, or glass), temperature (warm, cold, or room temperature), thickness, straight or with milk, etc.

There are 3 different grades of matcha choices too, and overall, there are more than 30 different ways of customization. Soheki makes tea in front of each customer, and gives a detailed explanation as to how to drink it. It is such a special treat to be able to enjoy freshly stone-ground matcha. After trying many different types of milk for “Matcha Latte”, “Matcha-ppuchino”, etc., Soheki adopted non-dairy almond milk as the best match to matcha. The “Matcha Affogato”, which is milk gelato served with thick matcha poured onto it, is one of customers’ favorites. The reason for choosing milk gelato instead of vanilla ice cream was to avoid the vanilla flavor to work against the matcha flavor. The pricing differs depending on the kind of matcha, but is set reasonably to attract more regular customers. For the confectionary to match the matcha drinks, they sell rice flour-based baked items imported from Japanese patisseries in their original packages, and for weekends, they serve Japanese style mochi confectionary made by a patisserie who resides in New York.

While running the tea house, they hold tea ceremony classes and meetings regularly at Setsugekka. The attendees are made up of various genders, ages, nationalities, and occupations. Also, once a month, they hold another type of event or exhibition in collaboration with pottery artists, confectionary artisans, calligraphers, etc. All these added ventures create a synergy effect, and bring in more customers. It is not easy to accumulate customers on weekdays in the East Village, so they use SNS such as Facebook and Instagram, and e-newsletters to advertise. The sales of matcha and tea bowls are doing well, too. Their matcha is all made in Japan. The selection includes organically-grown “Ishikawa” (Ishikawa Seicha/Toyota, Aichi), “Hosinotsuyu”, “Seiju” (Hoshino-Seichaen /Yame, Fukuoka), “Joubetsugi”, “Senjunomukashi” (Honey&Sons), “PANATEA”. Mr. and Mrs. Mori visited all the producers, and carefully selected these matcha, checking not only the taste, but also learning the background of each tea manufacturer.

They also visited creators of tea ceremony bowls and utensils, and hand-selected authentic and high-quality items.

They are already so busy handling such a wide variety of businesses by themselves, but there are still a lot more activities that they want to materialize.

They often get requests for lectures and demonstrations from universities and community colleges, and want to do more workshops to familiarize matcha in the everyday lives of people in the community. They also want to open a shop in the Midtown district to achieve their original goal of providing peace of mind to busy people. Furthermore, they are also looking passionately into the future for expanding the business to the West Coast, Paris, and Japan.


茶道を広めニューヨークに安らぎをもたらす

「ニューヨークで茶道を広めたい」——茶道家の森宗碧氏が直感的にそう感じたのは、今から22年前にニューヨークを訪れたときのことだった。「多忙な街だからこそ、茶道がもたらす精神的な安らぎが求められているのではないか」——以来、宗碧氏は本格的に茶道を学ぶ傍ら、15年間連続でニューヨークを訪れた。そして2011年、ビジネスパートナーでもある夫の森絢也氏と共に渡米。その直後に、東日本大震災が発生したことが、「茶道を広めたい」という二人の想いをさらに強くする運命的な出来事になったのだろう。「日本のために何かしたい」と考えていたところ、当時通学していた語学学校から「茶道体験をチャリティーオークションとして出品してはどうか」と提案があった。それをきっかけに頻繁にチャリティー茶会を行うようになり、2015年には活動の幅を広げるべく会社を設立。そして2017年4月、満を持してティーハウス『雪月華』開店に至った。

『雪月華』とは、漢字では雪・月・華の三文字で構成され、日本の美しい季節の風景を表現する言葉。その名の通り、店内に足を踏み入れると、イーストヴィレッジの喧騒が一瞬にして静まり、まるで別世界に入り込んだような錯覚を覚える。手前には日本から取り寄せた畳の座敷、奥にはカウンター席が配置され、美しく洗練された空間だ。

主役である抹茶を存分に楽しんでもらうために、提供方法は細かく分類されている。容器(茶碗・カップ・グラス)、好みの温度(温・冷・常温)、抹茶の濃さ、ストレートなのかミルクを加えるのか…。さらに抹茶を常時3種類から選ぶことができ、実に30種類以上ものカスタマイズができる仕組みだ。一人一人の客に対し丁寧に飲み方を説明し、宗碧氏が目の前で一杯ずつ入れてくれる。店内に設置された石臼で碾き立ての抹茶を楽しめるのも格別の体験だ。「抹茶ラテ)」や「抹茶プチーノ」には、さまざまなミルクを試した結果、抹茶との相性を考え、植物性のアーモンドミルクを採用した。濃茶をミルク・ジェラートにかける「抹茶アフォガート」は人気メニューのひとつ。バニラ・アイスクリームではなく、ミルク・ジェラートを選んだのは、バニラの香りが抹茶の風味を妨げるという理由からだ。価格は、抹茶の種類によって異なるが「定期的に来てほしい」という考えから、リーズナブルに設定している。抹茶に合わせる菓子は、日本のパティスリーより取り寄せた米粉の焼き菓子をオリジナルのパッケージで販売しているほか、週末には ニューヨーク在住のパティシエが作るお餅を使った和菓子を提供している。

ティーハウス運営の傍ら、茶道稽古や茶会も同場所で定期的に開催。参加者は老若男女、人種も職業もさまざまだ。また、月1回の頻度で、陶芸家や菓子職人、書道家らとコラボレーションしてイベントや展示会も実施している。これらすべての事業が相乗効果を生み、集客に好循環をもたらしているという。イーストヴィレッジという立地上、平日の集客は簡単ではないが、フェイスブックやインスタグラムなどのSNSやEニュースレターを活用している。抹茶や茶器などの物販も好調だ。抹茶はすべて日本産で、有機栽培抹茶「いしかわ」(いしかわ製茶、愛知県豊田市)、「星の露」「星授」(星野製茶園、福岡県八女市)、「上別儀」「千寿の昔」(Honey&Sons)、「PANATEA」など複数用意。どれも、夫婦で生産者を訪問し、味はもちろんのこと、背景やストーリーもよく知った上で厳選した。茶碗や茶杓など茶器も、夫婦で作家や職人を訪ね、本格的で高品質なものを揃えている。

これだけ多岐にわたる事業を夫婦二人でこなしているので多忙だが、まだまだ実現させたい活動が山積しているという。大学やコミュニティカレッジからも講義や実演の依頼も多く、抹茶を身近に感じてもらえるようなワークショップも増やしたいと考えている。また、「忙しい人にこそ安らぎを提供したい」という当初の目的を達成するべく、ミッドタウン地区へ出店したいという展望もある。将来は、西海岸、パリ、日本への展開も視野に入れ、情熱を燃やす日々だ。



Setsugekka East Village
74 E 7th Street
New York, NY 10003
Tel: 646-895-9586
https://www.setsugekkany.com/

Mon, Wed – Fri 10:30am - 6pm
Sat, Sun 10:30am - 7pm
Tuesday Closed
*Changes depending on the tea ceremony class or the event
#alljapannews #NY #Setsugekkaeastvillage #matcha #tea #ceremony

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Aiming to be the world’s best tonkotsu ramen specialty restaurant chain, pouring passion into a bowl of ramen

スレッド
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By Aya Ota

ICHIRAN” is a natural tonkotsu ramen specialty restaurant chain. Their headquarters are in Hakata, in the Fukuoka Prefecture, and has developed 68 restaurants all over Japan. This company claims themselves to be “the preeminent company researching tonkotsu ramen”, and they narrow down to offer only one type of ramen in the menu. The soup made with 100% tonkotsu (pork-bonebase stock) using special high skills has no unpleasant smell, and “Hiden no Tare (Spicy Red Sauce)” floats in the middle of each bowl. Those are some of the results of the daily study of 40-plus expert artisans in the efforts to try and create true tonkotsu ramen, insisting to use high-quality food ingredients. While the menu is pretty much narrowed down, they provide a special customizing form to respond to each customer’s preferences. On the form, customers can make optional adjustments from the following 7 categories: “Dashi”, “Richness”, “Garlic”, “Scallions”, “Charshu/ Sliced Pork:, “Hiden no Tare /Spicy Red Sauce”. The most unique system they offer must be the way to eat such a particularly-made bowl of ramen; you eat in an individual space separated from the next seat called “the flavor-concentration booth”. After submitting your customization form, and your ramen arrives, the little bamboo blind that hangs in front of you closes, so you can be relaxed, and really concentrate on your ramen. If you want to order extra noodles (kaedama), or a drink, you do not need to call out, but to merely push the call button.

As for their development overseas, they opened the first North American restaurant in Brooklyn, New York in October of 2016 following Hong Kong in 2013. During the preparation period, many doubted if American customers would be willing to eat alone in an individual space. Moreover, the location is not easily accessible, and the region is still under development. It was chosen to also build a factory nearby to be the base of the future development to have more restaurants. Some wondered if people would be willing to go to such a place just to eat ramen. Some thought that $20 for a bowl of ramen would sound too expensive even including tips.

“I was only half-convinced about succeeding at the beginning, but now I feel certainty. I think the same taste, service, and the atmosphere as in Japan are well received in the US,” says Satoshi Komaya, General Manager. More than 100 people formed a line on opening day, and the restaurant has now grown to have people waiting for hours to get in on weekends. Mr. Komaya analyzes the reason for their success in acquiring customers as follows; “Our brand power established in Japan and Hong Kong has been diffused and permeated through SNS such as Instagram and Facebook.” Just like in Japan, they serve only one kind of ramen.

The key ingredients such as the Hiden no Tare and dashi are directly imported from Japan. Other ingredients are locally procured, so it took about 10 years to prepare in order to replicate the same taste locally. They offer only one appetizer and one dessert, and for alcoholic drinks, there are only three; beer, matcha beer, and Japanese sake. The reason for this careful line of selection is only one and the biggest, which is nothing but offering a good match to the ramen. I thought the matcha beer had been selected to take advantage of the matcha boom and be unique; however, it was not the case. It had been specially developed from deep thinking about how well it would match with ramen. “The flavor-concentration booth” is very well accepted, and receives much better comments than other table seating arrangement. Many people say things like, “My sense of taste felt sharper, and I was very impressed!” I believe that all those experiences create added value, and make people willing to wait in line no matter how inconvenient the access is, how long they have to wait, or how expensive ($20) a bowl of ramen is. One change they made to suit New York life style is the table called “Ichiran Yatai”. Most of the customers use “the flavor-concentration booths”, and average length of stay is as short as half an hour. So people started to use this table as a bar to enjoy appetizers and sake with friends before or after eating ramen.

Mr. Komaya predicts, “From now on, ramen restaurants in the US will probably branch out in two ways; specialty restaurants utilizing Japanlike styles, and those which are more locally adopted. So far, what’s spreading in the US is the type of ramen restaurant which serves various dishes and sake in addition to ramen to enjoy varieties. I am certain that “Ichiran” is the kind that can aim for the best in the world as a ramen specialty restaurant,” He also says that the factory has ample producing capacity, and a plan to have more restaurants in the US is under consideration.


一杯のラーメンに情熱を注ぎ込み、とんこつラーメン専門店として世界一を目指す

天然とんこつラーメン専門店『一蘭』。福岡県博多に本店を置き、日本各地に約68店舗を展開する。「とんこつラーメンを世界一研究する会社」と謳う同社では、メニューをラーメン1 種類に絞り込む。高度な特殊製法で作った“100%豚骨で全く臭みなく仕上げたスープ” や、丼の中央に浮かべた“ 元祖・赤い秘伝のタレ” をはじめ、安全で高品質の食材にこだわり、40 人もの熟練職人が日々研究を重ねて、本物のとんこつラーメン作りを極めている。メニューを特化した一方で、客の微妙な好みの違いに応えるために、専用オーダー用紙を用意。「味の濃さ」「こってり度」「にんにく」「チャーシュー」「秘伝のたれ」の7 項目を調整できる仕組みを提供している。最も独特な点は、そのこだわりの一杯を、隣席と仕切った空間「味集中カウンター」で食べることだろう。専用オーダー用紙を提出し、ラーメンが運ばれてきた後は、目の前の簾も閉められ、周囲を気にすることなく、リラックスした状態でラーメンに集中する。替え玉やドリンクの追加注文時も、一切言葉を発する必要はなく、呼び出しボタンを押すだけでいい。

海外展開は2013 年の香港に続き、初の北米店としてニューヨークのブルックリン地区に2016 年10 月に開店。準備段階から「米国人が、個室で、一人でラーメンを食べるのか」との声も多かった。また、立地条件は、アクセスが不便で発展途上の地域。多店舗展開の拠点として工場併設のために選んだ立地だが「こんな場所に、わざわざラーメンを食べに行く人がいるか」と疑う声もあった。チップ込みとは言え「ラーメン1杯20ドルなんて高すぎる」という反応もあった。  

「当初は、自分自身も半信半疑だったが、確かな手応えを感じている。日本と全く同じ味、サービス、雰囲気が米国でも受け入れられている。」と語るのは、同店のジェネラル・マネージャー、米屋聡氏。開店初日には100 人以上が行列、今や、週末には数時間待ちが続く店に成長した。「日本や香港で確立したブランド力が、インスタグラムやフェイスブックなどSNSを通して、国境を越えて拡散・浸透している」と米屋氏は集客成功要因を分析する。日本同様、ラーメンは1 種類のみ。秘伝のタレや出汁などキーとなる食品は日本から直輸入するが、それ以外は現地食材で同じ味を再現すべく、約10 年の準備期間を費やした。前菜もデザートも各1 種類、アルコールもビール、抹茶ビール、日本酒の3 種類しかない。“ ラーメンに合う” という唯一にして最大の理由で厳選された内容だ。抹茶ビールは、近年の抹茶ブームに便乗し奇をてらったメニューかと思いきや、ラーメンとの相性を考え抜いて特別開発されたものだ。「味集中カウンター」も好評で、テーブル席を利用した客よりも、圧倒的に評価が高く「味覚が研ぎ澄まされ、感動した」などの声が多いそうだ。これらすべての体験が付加価値となり、
アクセスが不便であろうが、長時間待とうが、1杯20ドルだろうが、客は列を作るのだろう。ひとつ、ニューヨークらしい変化を遂げたのが「一蘭屋台」と呼ばれるテーブル席。多くの客が「味集中カウンター」を利用し、また平均滞在時間は30 分と短いため、ラーメンを食べる前後に、仲間と共につまみや酒を楽しむバーとして活用されるようになったという。  
 
「今後、米国のラーメンは、日本らしさを生かした専門店と、現地化した店に、二分化していくのではないか」と米屋氏。「これまで米国で広がってきたのは、ラーメンを中心にいろいろな料理や酒を楽しめる“ ラーメン・レストラン”。一蘭は“ ラーメン専門店” として世界一を目指せると確信している」と続ける。現在の工場は十分な生産能力もあるため、店舗を拡大する計画も考察中とのことだ。



ICHIRAN
374 Johnson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11206
(718) 381-0491
https://en.ichiran.com/

Everyday 11:00am-11:00pm
Weekday (Monday to Friday)
11:00am-6:00pm

[counter-seats] 6:00pm-11:00pm

[counter-seats & ICHIRAN Yatai seats]
Weekend (Saturday and Sunday) 11:00am-11:00pm

[counter-seats & ICHIRAN Yatai seats]
(Last call 10:30pm)
#alljapannews #Japanese #tonkotsu #ramen #NY

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