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Taste local Hida-region cuisine and sake in an old Japanese house-like atmosphere! “Kaikagetsu NYC”

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Taste local Hid... Taste local Hid... Taste local Hid... Taste local Hid... Taste local Hid... Taste local Hid...
By Aya Ota

Characteristics of New York City are strongly reflected upon old brick buildings and graffiti on the walls of the Lower East Side. In this town, new hotels, galleries, restaurants, and bars have been appearing one after another in the past few years, and the scene of the town has been rapidly changing. One of them is “Kaikagetsu NYC” that has the Hida-region of Gifu prefecture as their theme, with a brand-new concept.

When you step into the restaurant, being enchanted and led by the elegant swaying paper lanterns hung in the front, its beautiful interior catches your eyes first. You see lamps standing in line like on a street in the space where deep charcoal brown grainy woods, white walls and ceilings are effectively laid out. As you keep walking forward towards the heavy door in the back, you feel like you are walking down the street of the Hida region where old houses stand in line along the streets. A truly relaxing and elegant ambience has been produced there with impressively presented Mino Washi paper and local artifacts, etc.

The dishes served there are dominated by the Hida-region’s local cuisine. Hida beef, a Gifu prefecture specialty, is featured as the main menu item, and they serve a wide variety of both traditional dishes such as “Hida Beef Hoba Yaki” ($60) and “Hida Beef Toban Yaki” ($60), and modern version dishes such as “Hida Beef Curry” ($24) and “Hida Beef Skewers” ($24). The “Hida Beef Nigiri Sushi Sampler” ($35), which is sushi of lightly char-boiled Hida beef, is particularly well received. Variations of possibilities of wagyu beef are exhibited one after another, which surprises and impresses you. As for Japanese sake, it is extremely carefully selected mainly amongst the Hida-region brands. “Tenryou Koshu” Junmai Daiginjo, which has a distinctive aroma, is especially popular, and many customers order it for pairing with Hida beef dishes. There, you can either choose to sit at a table to relax to enjoy a Kaiseki course, or sit at the bar to enjoy sake while having à la carte dishes.

“Their unprecedented unique concept, Hida, and the ingredient, Hida beef, which is very attractive to Americans, must be appealing to New Yorkers,” says Tomoyuki Iwanami, the owner. Mr. Iwanami was born and raised in New York. He has a unique background. He worked in both the music and fashion industries. He was specialized in marketing and branding. The joint effort with Mr. Yasuo Shigeta, CEO, Forrest Fooding, Inc., also his friend of 10 years, who runs 37 various types of restaurants in Japan, started extensive market research about 5 years ago for the main purpose of opening a Japanese fine dining restaurant in New York, which is the center of the world of eatery. What they took most of their time was to look for the location and building. They had their eyes on the Lower East Side since the beginning; however, they felt a special energy and growth potential of this area by seeing the past year’s remarkable changes there, and eventually decided to choose this location. I found out that they had decided on the theme as the Hida region later on. They first determined the condition of the existing real estate candidates, local clientele and their characteristics, etc., and then chose “Kaikagetsu” as their themed restaurant among the running business models of Forrest Fooding Inc.

The strong selling point of “Kaikagetsu NYC” is, no need to say, its particularity about ingredients and cooking style. They brought as many as 3 chefs from Japan, who are experienced and well established in Kaiseki cuisine. Their truly authentic and delicately crafted dishes are very well recognized. The colorful presentation of each dish that makes you feel the present season, looks like a piece of art. Playful arrangements are applied to daily changing ingredients by the chefs, and never bore even the repeating customers. Such strengths of theirs was taken into their branding strategy, and used for choosing the media that are particular about foods and drink, for their advertisements. They also invited concierges of nearby hotels to introduce their concept and dishes so they can recommend the restaurant to the hotel guests. Diligent efforts such as those worked out, and the restaurant has become a place where gourmet customers who want to eat good food, gather despite the location which, you cannot say, is really convenient to reach.

“As a Japanese who was born and raised in New York, I wanted to do something for Japan,” continues Mr. Iwanami. Aside from running the restaurant, he is contributing to the exchange of Japan/US food cultures by hiring novice chefs who are interested in Japanese cuisine, and training them, etc.

I’d really like you to visit this restaurant where you can fully enjoy good old Japanese elegant ambience and local cuisine.


飛騨地方の郷土料理と地酒を、古民家のような雰囲気で味わう
『海華月NYC』


煉瓦造りの古い建物や壁に描かれたグラフィティ…ニューヨークらしさを色濃く遺す街、ロウアーイーストサイド。この数年、ホテルやギャラリー、レストランやバーが次々登場し、急速に変貌を遂げる中、またひとつ個性的な店が誕生した。『海華月NYC』――岐阜県飛騨地方をテーマにした、全く新しいコンセプトの店だ。

店頭で揺れる上品な提灯に誘われるように足を踏み入れると、まず、その内装の美しさに目を奪われる。深い焦げ茶色の木目と白い壁や天井との対比を活かした空間に、街頭のように並ぶランプ。店の奥にある重厚感ある扉に向けて進むと、まるで飛騨地方の古民家が立ち並ぶ街を歩いているかのような気分になる。美濃和紙や民芸品を印象的に配置し、お洒落かつ心からくつろげる雰囲気を演出している。

料理は飛騨地方の郷土料理を取り入れた内容。特に、岐阜県名産の飛騨牛をメニューの核に据え、「飛騨牛の朴葉焼き($60)」「飛騨牛陶板焼き$60)」などの伝統的な料理から、「飛騨牛のカレー$24)」「飛騨牛の串焼き(($24)」など現代的な料理まで、幅広く提供する。ごく軽く炙った飛騨牛で握る寿司$35)も好評で、和牛の可能性を次々に見せてくれ、驚かされる。日本酒は飛騨地方の地酒を中心に厳選。特に、純米大吟醸『天領古酒』は個性的な風味があり、飛騨牛とあわせて楽しむ客が多いという。ゆっくりとテーブルに着席して懐石料理コースを満喫したり、バーカウンターに座ってアラカルトをつまみながらお酒を味わったり、さまざまな楽しみ方ができる。

「飛騨という他にないコンセプト、飛騨牛という米国人客に魅力的な食材がニューヨーカーを引きつけている」と話すのは、オーナーの岩波智之氏岩波氏は、ニューヨークで生まれ育ち、音楽やファッション業界出身というユニークな経歴があり、マーケティングやブランディングが専門分野。同氏の十年来の友人であり、日本でさまざまな業態の飲食店を37店舗経営する『フォレストフーディング社』の代表取締役社長・重田保夫氏と提携し、約5年前に「世界の食の中心地・ニューヨークで、高級和食店を開店する」という軸を元に、徹底した市場調査を開始した。最も時間を割いたのは、立地と物件探し。当初からロウアーイーストサイド地区には目を付けていたものの、特にこの1年のめざましい変化を見る中で、他の地域にはないエネルギーや成長性を感じ、この場所に決定したという。「飛騨地方をテーマに据える」ことは、実は、後から決めたことだという。既存物件の状況や、この地域の顧客層や特性などを見極めた上で、フォレストフーディング社が経営する業態から『海華月』を選んだのだという。

『海華月NYC』の強みは、なんと言っても食材と料理にこだわっていること。日本から、懐石料亭で経験と実績を積んだシェフを3人も連れてきており、本格的で丁寧に細工された料理には定評がある。季節感や大事にした彩り豊かな盛り付けは、まるで芸術作品のようだ。毎日の食材に応じて、シェフたちが遊び心あふれるアレンジを施し、常連が何度訪れても飽きさせることがない。その強みをブランディング戦略にも取り入れ、ソフトオープン当初は、食や酒にこだわりの強い媒体を選んで、記事掲載を仕掛けたという。また、近隣のホテルのコンシェルジェを招待し、コンセプトや料理を紹介し、宿泊客に勧めてもらうように働きかけた。こういった地道な戦略が功を奏し、決して交通の便がよい立地とは言えないが、「美味しいものを食べたい」というグルメな客が集う店として注目されている。

「ニューヨークで生まれ育った日本人として、日本のために何かできれば」と岩波氏は続ける。レストラン経営の一方で、和食に興味のあるシェフの卵を見習いとして雇いトレーニングするなど、日米の食文化交流にも貢献する。

古き良き日本の風情や郷土料理を心ゆくまで楽しめる店、ぜひ足を運んでほしい。



Kaikagetsu NYC
162 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002
Tel: 646-590-3900
URL: www.kaikagetsunyc.com
#alljapannews #hida #cusine #sake #kaikagetsu #beef

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