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To Prepare for the Holiday Season

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By Yuji Matsumoto

When we get into December, restaurants start becoming busy with year-end parties and Christmas parties, and we should start preparation from the beginning of November. During this time, wines and champagnes are consumed a lot and even served by restaurants, and it is disappointing that sales of Japanese sake is slightly held back by them. However, if you think of what goes good with food, I feel that Japanese sake is the winner. Also it can be consumed at different temperatures and I am happy that hot sake can warm up your body during the cold seasons.

With some thought out presentations, you can drink Japanese sake in style.
Let's start with the glass. By using the white wine glass instead of the usual Japanese sake glass, you can increase the luxury at your table. If you like sparkling alcohol like champagne, it would be interesting to serve sake in a flute glass. Varieties of sparkling Japanese sake has increased recently and we're thankful that they are being sold at reasonable prices. Also, we would like you to try flavor sake which is popular during this season.

If you like to drink hot sake, we suggest you buy the sake warming set on the market that uses candles to warm sake. This would be a very good match with Western style foods.



ホリデーシーズンに備える

12月に入るとすぐに忘年会、クリスマスパーティーなどでレストランは忙しい時期となる。11月初旬からすでに準備をしていきたい。この時期ワインやシャンペンは多くレストランでも出るようになるが、日本酒となるとややこれらにおされ気味になるのが残念である。

しかし、食との相性を考えると日本酒が勝ると思う。しかも温度帯も広く、寒い時期には燗酒を飲むことにより身体とも暖めてくれるのがうれしい。

ちょっとした演出により、おしゃれに日本酒を飲むことができる。

まずは、グラス。いつもの小さい日本酒グラスではなく白ワインのグラスを使用することにより、食卓に豪華さが増す。

シャンペンなどの発砲酒が好みならフルートグラスで提供してみると面白い。最近は日本酒の発泡酒の種類も多くなり、手軽な価格になっているのでありがたい。また、同じくフレイバー酒もこの時期に好まれるのでぜひトライしていただきたい。

燗が好きな方は、市販で買えるロウソクで暖める燗セットをお勧めする。これなら、洋食の食卓にもとてもマッチするのである。



為節日季節作準備

因甫踏進十二月,便有尾牙餐會、聖誕派對等令餐廳非常忙碌的節目;故皆希望能夠於十一月上旬起已開始作準備。在此期間,許多餐廳會提供葡萄酒和香檳等;但遺憾當提及清酒,則有種略微被壓下的感覺。

但是,當考慮到與料理的襯托程度時,個人認為清酒更勝一籌。此外,清酒的溫度範圍廣;在寒冷的天氣裡喝燗酒(註:熱清酒),令身體更感溫暖,倍添快意。
只需少量心思,就可以時尚地品嘗清酒。

首先,玻璃杯。使用白葡萄酒用的玻璃酒杯代替平時清酒用的小酒杯可以增加餐桌的奢華感。

如果您喜歡香檳等發泡酒,可嘗試將其與香檳杯一起飲用。而值得慶幸的是近來,清酒的發泡酒種類也有所增加,以及已經成為能夠易於負擔的價格。另外,這時期的加香酒亦大受歡迎,請務必嘗試。

對於喜歡燗酒的人,建議使用可以在市場上購買,以蠟燭作加熱方法的燗酒套件。至此,就能變得與西式餐桌非常匹配。



홀리데이 시즌을 준비하며

12월에 들어서면 송년회며 크리스마스 파티 시즌 등이 금새 돌아오기 때문에, 레스토랑은 바빠지기 전인 11월 초순부터 이미 준비를 해나가야 합니다. 이 시기에 많은 레스토랑에서 와인이나 샴페인을 출시하는데, 니혼슈가 이러한 주류에 약간 밀리는 것 같아 아쉽기도 합니다.

그러나 음식과의 궁합을 생각하면 니혼슈가 더 잘 어울리는 것 같습니다. 온도 범위도 폭 넓고 추울 때 燗酒(칸자케: 따뜻하게 데운 술)를 마시면 몸도 따뜻해져서 기분이 좋아집니다.

조금만 연출하면 세련되게 술을 마실 수도 있습니다.

우선 유리잔이 필요합니다. 늘 마시던 작은 술잔이 아니라 화이트 와인 유리잔을 사용하면 식탁에 고급스러움을 더할 수 있습니다.

샴페인과 같은 발포주를 좋아하면 플룻 글래스에 담아보아도 재미있습니다. 최근에는 니혼슈의 발포주 종류도 많아지고 가격도 저렴해지고 있어 고마운 마음까지 듭니다. 역시 플레이버주도 이 시기에 잘 어울리는 종류이니 꼭 도전해 보면 좋겠습니다.

칸자케를 좋아하는 분들에게 시중에서 살 수 있는 양초로 따뜻하게 데워서 마시는 칸자케 세트를 추천합니다. 이 세트라면 서양 식탁에도 아주 잘 어울릴 것입니다.
#sake #holiday #wine

ワオ!と言っているユーザー

Carefree take-out outpost of authentic Japanese sweets and matcha drinks “Cha-An BONBON”

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Carefree take-o... Carefree take-o... Carefree take-o... Carefree take-o... Carefree take-o... Carefree take-o... Carefree take-o... Carefree take-o... Carefree take-o... Carefree take-o... Carefree take-o...
By Aya Ota

“I wonder, since when did Americans start to enjoy Japanese sweets this much?” ---You cannot help but feel such astonishment when you look at the store-front of Cha-An BONBON, where many customers crowd around. Cha-An BONBON opened on May 1 of this year as a place where you can take out the popular matcha drinks, Japanese sweets, Hojicha softcream, which is still new and rare in New York, etc., and are offered at Cha-An Teahouse.

“Cha-An Teahouse” opened in 2004, which is 15 years ago. It is one of the T.I.C. Group establishments that runs 18 various style Japanese restaurants in New York. The concept of “Cha-An” is “the tea”, and it offers a wide variety of teas such as black tea and Chinese tea besides Japanese tea and matcha. When it opened, it had equipped with an authentic ceremonious tea room.

Their menu includes traditional Japanese sweets such as “anmitsu” and “zenzai”, western style sweets accentuated by Japanese ingredients such as “Matcha Pudding” and “Black Sesame Brulee”, plus healthy carefully-prepared meal plates. Now, this place is so popular and crowded every day, but they used to struggle so much for the first few years, that some days it was difficult to make even $100 profit a day. Back then, people expected Japanese tea to be served for free at Japanese restaurants. People also used to ask for coffee daily. Besides all that, being located on the second floor made it even more difficult to acquire customers.

“We’ve been simply doing the same thing for the last 15 years,” tells Tomoko Yagi, the wagashi expert & food consultant of T.I.C. Restaurant Group, in a humble manner. She got married to Bon Yagi, the President of T.I.C. Group, and came to the US in 1986. She had dietician and cook licenses in Japan. After reaching the point of settling down and raising children, she was asked to give ideas for desserts served at the Group’s restaurants such as “Sakagura” and “Sobaya”. Since then, not only for “Cha-An Teahouse”, but she also has been producing desserts for all other T.I. C. Group restaurants.

Tomoko said that she had to learn how to make delicious Japanese sweets by herself because it was difficult to find good wagashi in New York back then. As wagashi started to be recognized more and more, she started to hold more wagashi making classes by request. Now the class has grown so popular that it gets filled every time. She is currently busy working as a wagashi teacher even at places such as Japan Society and Japan Club. Most of the students are non-Japanese. They gather to experience the charms of wagashi enjoyed by the feel of each season and each of the 5 senses. Tomoko’s remark is very humble, saying she has just been doing the same thing for 15 years, but I think she is clearly one of the pioneers who has been creating the current matcha and mochi booms.

“Cha-An BONBON” is a small place of only 117 square feet with a showcase. Many customers have expressed their hopes of taking Cha-An’s sweets home before, so this place opened to make such long-awaited wishes come true. They studied deeply before deciding on the prices and the menu items by holding a free-sample eating event for affiliated people before the opening. Not only that, they thought a lot about good sizing and packaging of the products for take-out purposes, and they also thought about making the products look as attractive as possible with SNS posting in mind by decorating them with edible flowers, bright colors, etc. In fact, SNS effects have been helping well to collect people to visit the store, and go to wagashi classes. Their sweets taste very authentically Japanese, even more so than the ones sold in Japan.

The popular items are mochi-based sweets such as “Homemade Daifuku Mochi” and “Mitarashi Dango”. Matcha and Hojicha flavored soft ice cream (softcream), parfait and anmitsu using shiratama and gyuhi are all house-made, and excellent. Each matcha drink is made to order very carefully, and is very flavorful and tasty. They have put a lot of thought into making gift-in-mind cookies, financiers, and matcha sets. Before them, there were limited selections of wagashi for take-out or gifts in New York, so their merchandise has been very well received. The bread used for Cha-An Teahouse’s new menu item, “Fruit Toast”, is also baked in-house, and it is supposed to be sold at Cha-An BONBON starting this fall.

“There is still a lot we want to do, and can do. I would like to keep enforcing the Cha-An brand,” says Tomoko Yagi. They are thinking about multiple shop development and E commerce. I won’t be able to take my eyes off of their future endeavors.


本格派和風スイーツや抹茶ドリンクを気軽にお持ち帰り
『茶菴BONBON』


「いつから米国人はこんなに和菓子を楽しむようになったのか」――多くの客で賑わう店頭を眺めながら、そんな驚きを隠せない店『茶菴BONBON』。『茶菴』で提供している人気抹茶ドリンクや和風スイーツ、ニューヨークではまだ珍しいほうじ茶ソフトクリームなどをお持ち帰りできる店として、今年5月1日に開店した。

『茶菴』が開店したのは2004年、15年前のこと。ニューヨークで、さまざまな業態の日本食店を18店舗経営するT.I.C.レストラングループのひとつだ。『茶菴』は“お茶”がコンセプトで、日本茶や抹茶を中心に、紅茶や中国茶も幅広くそろえ、開店当時は本格的な茶室を備えていた。「あんみつ」や「ぜんざい」といった純和風甘味や、「抹茶プディング」「黒胡麻クレームブリュレ」など和食材をアクセントにした洋菓子、健康によい素材で丁寧に作った食事メニューを提供する。同店は、今でこそ連日混雑する人気店だが、開店後数年は、1日100ドルの利益を上げるのが大変だった時期もあるという。当時はまだ、日本食店でお茶が無料で提供されるのが当然だったし、客からコーヒーはないのか連日尋ねられたという。また、2階に位置しているため、集客も苦労したという。

「15年前から同じことをやっているだけ」と謙遜しながら話すのは、和菓子研究家兼フードコンサルタントの八木共子氏。T.I.C.グループ代表・八木秀峰氏との結婚を機に、1986年渡米。日本で栄養士と調理師の資格を持っていたこともあり、子育てが一段落した頃に、同グループの『酒蔵』や『蕎麦屋』のデザート考案を依頼されたことがきっかけで、今では、『茶菴』をはじめとするT.I.C.グループのレストラン全般で、デザートをプロデュースしている。

「当時は、ニューヨークで美味しい和菓子の入手が困難だったので、独学で作り方を学んだ」という共子氏。和菓子が認知されるに連れ、客の要望で和菓子教室を開始し、今では、毎回満席になるほどの人気クラスに成長した。現在は、ジャパン・ソサエティや日本クラブでも和菓子講師として活躍する。生徒はほぼ非日本人で、季節感や五感で楽しむ和菓子の魅力を体験するために集う。共子氏は「15年前から同じこと…」と謙遜するが、間違いなく、現在の抹茶や餅ブームを創り上げてきたパイオニアの一人だろう。

『茶菴BONBON』は、面積たった117スクエアフィート、ショーケースだけを設置した小さな店舗。以前から「茶菴のスイーツをお持ち帰りしたい」との声が多く、満を持しての開店だ。開店前には関係者向け試食会も実施し、値段やメニュー内容を精査した。また、テイクアウト用にサイズやパッケージを工夫しただけでなく、食用花をあしらい色彩を鮮やかにするなど、”インスタ映え”する見た目を意識したという。実際に、同店や和菓子クラスへは、SNSからの集客に成功している。味はどれも、日本で食べるもの以上に日本らしさを感じる本格的な内容だ。

人気アイテムは「大福」や「みたらし団子」などの餅菓子。抹茶やほうじ茶のソフトクリーム、白玉や求肥を使ったパフェやあんみつも秀逸で、すべて手作りで提供する。抹茶ドリンクは注文ごとに丁寧に点ててくれ、香りや風味が格別だ。贈り物にも最適なクッキーやフィナンシェ、抹茶セットにも力を入れている。これまでニューヨークでは、お持ち帰りや贈答品に使える和菓子が限られていたので、好評を博している。『茶菴』の新メニュー「フルーツトースト」で用いるパンも店内で焼いており、秋には『茶菴BONBON』でも販売する予定だ。

「まだまだやりたいこと、やれることがたくさんある。茶菴ブランドをもっと強くしていきたい」と語る八木共子氏。多店舗展開やEコマースなども視野に入っているといい、今後も目が離せない。



Cha-An BONBON
238A E 9th St, New York, NY 10003
Tel: 646ー669-9785
https://www.chaanteahouse.com/bonbon

Mon-Thu 12-8pm
Fri-Sun 12-9pm
#ChaAn #BONBON #NY #hojicha #anmitsu #zenzai

ワオ!と言っているユーザー

Expanding quickly to 3 locations in the LA area, a ramen restaurant chain from Tokyo, Rakkan Ramen

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Expanding quickly to 3 location... Expanding quickly to 3 location... Expanding quickly to 3 location... Expanding quickly to 3 location... Expanding quickly to 3 location...
By Keiko Fukuda

I don’t know why, but in the beach cities of the Los Angeles suburbs, there were no ramen restaurants for a long time. It is the area which includes Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, and Hermosa Beach. There were several ramen restaurants in nearby cities, Torrance and Gardena, and new establishments were coming to Costa Mesa, Little Tokyo, and Sawtelle, all of which were definitely avoiding the beach cities. However, in early 2019, when I was driving on the Pacific Coast Highway in my local area, Redondo Beach, a banner on the wall of a Japanese restaurant which used to be owned by my acquaintance, caught my eyes. The banner had a photo of a ramen bowl!

I couldn’t wait long, and visited that restaurant the following week. That was Rakkan Ramen. On my first visit, I tried the Amber Ramen in a soy sauce-based mild-tasting soup. On the second visit, I tried the miso-based Spicy Garnet. The soup is rich and flavorful, and the noodles have just the right texture and thinness, and the charshu on top is delicious! Not only that, the place is close to my home. I have nothing to complain about. This find is a “big hit”!

Rakkan Ramen also has a location in Downtown, LA, and recently opened another location in Santa Monica, but I kept going to the Redondo Beach location. When a half year had passed since I started to visit there, I requested to interview them through their website. Their CEO had agreed to do an interview at the Redondo Beach location.

On the interview day, I was shocked about how young the CEO, Mr. Ito looked. He further shocked me by telling me that he was only 24 years old when he opened the very first Rakkan Ramen location 9 years ago in Nishi Azabu in Tokyo. He told me, “I was once a cook on a ship. I took the cooking course in high school, and acquired a cooking license when I graduated from high school. I also liked designing and the arts, so I went to a special school for it. Then I boarded a ship, and worked as a cook. I also did some back-packing travels. I had no experience in the ramen business, but there was an izakaya called “Namihei” on the ship where I was working as a cook, and there, I used to serve ramen at meal breaks for the employees who came from various parts of the world, which was very well received.”

Following Nishi Azabu, Rakkan opened 4 more locations in Tokyo and its suburbs. Despite the confidence he felt, he wanted a further challenge to pursue his dream of running a business overseas, and opened the first American location in Little Tokyo of Downtown, LA in July of 2017. I asked about the difference from Japan. He answered, “First, the soup is non-animal based, although there is charshu on top (lol). Dashi is made with vegetables and kombu. The reason is, I thought that going with vegan would be more widely received in the US.”

Moreover, in order for customers to use the place as an izakaya, they included items that go well with Japanese sake on the menu such as buns (pork buns and vegetable buns) and appetizers to satisfy customers here, which are not found in Japan. They offer 10 different brands of Japanese sake. As for the Redondo Beach location, dinner accounts for 75% of the sales, maybe because there are no business offices nearby, and lunch accounts for only 25%.

“I run 4 locations in Tokyo. There are differences between Japan and the US, and especially in Tokyo; not only the environment, but also the speed of business is different. It took me a long time to deeply observe the market environment in the US, and figure out how to go about it,” says Mr. Ito. In other words, instead of carrying over the successful strategy in Japan, I needed to come up with a new strategy unique to the US. In the end, I could say that it was a wise decision, although it took time to achieve.”

I asked Mr. Ito about the future prospects. He said without hesitation, “I will push franchising.” With the acquired license to allow franchising in the US, he is planning to aggressively participate in expositions in Chicago in September, Houston in October, Paris in 2020, and London. Mr. Ito says, “I think that is the best way to spread the Rakkan brand.” I was curious to know where the name, Rakkan, came from. He said, “After traveling the world, I wanted Japanese people to feel more optimistic.”


LA地域に3店舗と急成長中東京から進出したラーメン店

なぜだか分からないが、長い間、私が暮らすロサンゼルス近郊のビーチシティーにはラーメン店がなかった。マンハッタンビーチ、レドンドビーチ、ハモサビーチが含まれるエリアだ。隣接するトーランスやガーデナにはいくつもラーメン店があり、新規の店も、コスタメサ、リトルトーキョー、ソーテルと、見事にビーチシティーを避けるような場所を選んでいた。しかし、2019年の頭、地元のレドンドビーチのパシフィックコーストハイウェイを車で通っていた時に、以前は知り合いがオーナーだった日本食店の建物の壁面のバナーが目に飛び込んできた。そのバナーにはラーメンの写真。

翌週、私は早速、その楽観ラーメンを訪れた。初回は醤油ベースのスープが優しい味のAmberラーメンを、2回目は味噌ベースのSpicy Garnetを注文した。スープのコク、程よい硬さと細さの麺、そして上に乗ったチャーシューまでが美味しく、さらに家から近いとあれば申し分がない。「当たり」だった。

楽観ラーメンは他にダウンタウン店もあり、サンタモニカにも最近店を開けたばかり。しかし、私はレドンドビーチ店に通い続けた。そして、通い始めて半年後、ウェブサイト経由で取材を申し込むとレドンドビーチ店でCEOがインタビューに協力してくれることになった。

当日、伊東CEOの若さに驚いた。話を聞いて、さらに驚いたのは、楽観ラーメン1号店を、9年前に西麻布に開けた当時、伊東さんはまだ24歳だったということ。「もともと船のコックだったんです。高校の調理科出身で、調理師免許は高校卒業時に取得しました。さらにデザインやアートが好きだったので専門学校に通い、その後、世界中を巡る船に乗り込んでコックをやったり、バックパッカーとして旅をしたり。ラーメンの経験はなかったんですけど、働いていた船の中に『波平』という名前の居酒屋があって、そこでの賄いに色々な国の人を相手にラーメンを出したところ、すごく好評だったんです」。

西麻布店に続き、東京都内と近郊に全部で4店舗を展開した。手応えは感じていたが、「海外でビジネスをやりたい」という夢を叶えるため、2017年7月にロサンゼルスのリトルトーキョー(ダウンタウン)にアメリカ1号店をオープンした。日本との違いを聞くと「まずスープが動物系ではないことです。チャーシューは乗っていますけど(笑)、野菜や昆布で出汁をとっています。アメリカで広く受け入れられるためにはビーガンで行くべきだと思ったことが理由です」。

また、居酒屋として利用してもらうために、日本にはないバンズ(ポークバンズとベジタブルバンズ)やアペタイザーなどの酒のつまみになるメニューも充実させた。日本酒も10種類揃えている。ちなみにレドンドビーチ店の場合、近くにオフィスがないからか、売上のうちの75%をディナータイムが占め、ランチは25%に留まっているということだ。

「東京で4店舗経営していますが、アメリカと日本、特に東京では、環境はもちろん、ビジネスのスピードが違います。どのような市場環境かをしっかり観察して、それに合った対策を施すのにアメリカでは時間がかかりましたね」と伊東さんは話す。つまり、日本での成功戦略を踏襲するのではなく、アメリカならではの戦略を新たに立てることが、時間がかかったとしても結果的には賢明だということなのだろう。

今後の展開について質問すると、「フランチャイズを進めていくことです」と即答した。アメリカでフランチャイズを販売する資格を手に、9月のシカゴ、10月のヒューストン、さらには2020年のパリやロンドンと、エキスポに積極的に出展する計画だそうだ。「楽観というブランドを広めるにはそれが一番の方法だと思っています」と語る伊東さん。気になる店名の由来について聞くと、「世界を回って、日本人にもっと楽観的になってほしいなと思ったからです」と答えた。



Rakkan Ramen
629 S Pacific Coast Hwy
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
(310) 543-0586
https://rakkanusa.com/

Sun.-Thu.
11:00am-11:00pm
Fri. & Sat.
11:00am-12:00am
#ramen #LA #Rakkan

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