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Popular with fresh made Soba noodles

スレッド
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.


打ち立て蕎麦で人気

美味しい日本食屋ができると日本人社会の中ですぐに噂が広がる。オレンジ郡に住む知り合いに「いい店ができた。蕎麦居酒屋みなみという名前」と教えてもらった後、別のオレンジ郡の知り合いとランチをする時にその店を提案したところ、「ワイフが行ったことがあるらしい。美味しいと言っていた」という返事が返ってきた。スモールワールドだ。

 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。

 日を改めてオーナーのレイ・服部さんに話を伺った。服部さんは長年、アサヒビールに勤務、米国法人のプレジデントを最後に退職した。その後、オレンジ郡に引っ越し、レストランビジネスのコンサルタントとしての活動をスタートした。しかし、コンサルタントを名乗るからには一度自らレストランを経営すべきではないかと考え、日本で大規模な飲食店チェーンを展開している企業をパートナーに迎え店を手がけることにしたのだと説明してくれた。なぜ、蕎麦屋にしたのかと聞くと服部さんの答えは次のようなものだった。

「まず、日本人として『これは本物の味だね』と言っていただけるような店にしたかったということ。次にオレンジにはいろんな日本食店があり、ラーメン店も多いですが、蕎麦屋があまりないということです」

 蕎麦屋を開店するに当たり、ロケーションを探すための市場調査を目的に服部さんはリフトとウーバーのドライバーになったそうだ。「お客さんがどこを目指して出かけるのか、また実際に話をしてみて、彼らが求めているものが何かを聞くことで参考にさせてもらいました」と服部さん。確かにリフトのような配車サービスの利用者はお酒を飲むことを前提に飲食店に向かうことが多いはずだ。
 
 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。

 取材をしたのは開店から半年ほどが経った頃だったが、既に手応えを感じていると服部さんは話す。「アメリカ人のお客さんが思ったよりも蕎麦に抵抗がないようで安心しています。最初は日本人が食べても本物だと思っていただける味を目指していましたが、結果的には顧客の半分はアメリカ人になったことで想定外の嬉しさを感じています」。

 また、蕎麦屋だけでなく、夜は居酒屋としての顔を見せる。服部さんの奥様が沖縄出身ということで、メニューには沖縄料理を少しずつ増やしていく計画なのだとか。それもまた楽しみだ。ちなみに同店に置いているビールは服部さんが長年在籍したアサヒビールと沖縄のオリオンビールだということだ。



Soba Izakaya, Minami
24391 Avenida De La Carlota Suite A, Laguna Hills
(949) 215-5375
https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Japanese-Restaurant/Soba-Izakaya-Minami-438038653298633/

11:30am-2:30pm
5:00pm-10:00pm
7 days open
#alljapannews #soba #izakaya #minami

ワオ!と言っているユーザー

Master Sake Brewer Junji Matsumori recognized as a Contemporary Master Craftsman of Iwate Prefecture

スレッド
By Kosuke Kuji

Iwate prefecture promotes improvement in the status and skills of skilled craftsmen to develop the prefecture’s economy. Since 1976, highly skilled craftsmen are recognized as Contemporary Master Craftsmen, the highest recognition for craftsmen honored by Iwate prefecture.

Master Sake Brewer Junji Matsumori was recently recognized with this honor as a Contemporary Master Craftsman of Iwate prefecture.

Born in Ninohe city, Iwate prefecture, Matsumori joined his wife’s family business of managing a liquor store upon marriage, where he worked at a local wholesaler.
Just when I was searching for a “young worker for sake production,” I met Matsumori and was moved by his noble spirit and love for sake, and invited him to join our brewery division.

From then on, Matsumori worked under the late Hajime Yamaguchi, former Master Sake Brewer of Nanbu Bijin, where Matsumori inherited his late master’s genius sake production skills. Today, he leads the Nanbu Bijin sake production as our current Master Sake Brewer.

Today, Matsumori is recognized as First Place in the Ginjo division and Second Place in the Junmai division of the most competitive sake awards in Japan, the Tohoku Sake Awards, and as world champion of the International Wine Challenge held in London in 2017, where his sake was recognized as “Champion Sake.” The talented Master Sake Brewer also garnered First Place in both the sparkling sake division and Junmai Daiginjo division in a 2018 sake competition in Tokyo that recognized the most delicious brand of commercially available sake brand. In The Annual Japanese Sake Awards, Matsumori garnered the Gold Prize twelve times out of the thirteen years the awards were given, a celebrated Master Sake Brewer proudly representing both Iwate prefecture and Japan on the world stage.

A young Nanbu Toji still in his fifties, we anticipate Master Sake Brewer Matsumori’s continued contribution to the ongoing development of sake production skills in the Japanese sake industry.


松森杜氏、岩手県卓越技能者認定

岩手県では技能尊重気運を醸成し、技能労働者の地位及び技能水準の向上を図り、岩手県産業経済の発展に寄与することを目的として、卓越技能者表彰を昭和51年度から行っています。

岩手県の技術者としては、最高の栄誉の表彰です。

その岩手県卓越技能者に当社の松森杜氏が選ばれ、先日表彰をされました。

松森杜氏は地元岩手県二戸市で生まれ、結婚して奥様の家族が経営する酒屋さんに婿で入り、地元の問屋さんで働いていました。

私が蔵に帰って、酒造りで若い人材が欲しい、と願っていた時に、出会い、その気高き心と日本酒愛に惚れ込んで当社の酒造り部門に来てもらいました。

そこからは、南部美人の前杜氏である故山口一杜氏に付き、天才と言われた山口杜氏の技を継承し、今では南部美人の杜氏として酒造り全般を指揮しています。

2016年には日本で最もレベルの高い鑑評会である東北清酒鑑評会で見事吟醸酒の部門で首席第1位、純米酒の部門で2位というダブル受賞をし、2017年には世界一の称号を決めるロンドンで開催されるインターナショナルワインチャレンジで見事世界一「チャンピオンサケ」を受賞、2018年には世界一おいしい市販酒を決める東京で開催されるサケコンペティションでスパークリングの部門で1位、純米大吟醸の部門で1位とダブル首席を受賞しました。全国新酒鑑評会でも13年間で12回金賞受賞など、岩手が、そして日本が誇る名杜氏です。

まだ50代と若く、これから岩手の南部杜氏のため、そして日本の日本酒業界の技術発展のため、貢献していってほしいです。
#alljapannews #sake #brewer #Iwate

ワオ!と言っているユーザー

Selecting your choice of sake

スレッド
By Yuji Matsumoto

Sake is a beverage of preference. However, “delicious” sake all have common universal traits.
The flavors can be characterized as follows:

 -Sweetness
 -Acidity
 -Saltiness
 -Bitterness
 -Umami

In terms of food preparation, the common factor that creates a “delicious” taste for consumers is the balance between these flavors. “Preference” refers to this balance being achieved first, followed by one’s preferred flavor, such as ‘sweetness,’ being slightly stronger than the other four characteristics.

The same can be said about sake. Sake flavors are evaluated based on how well-balanced these flavors (saltiness mostly does not exist in sake) are. With sake, sweetness and acidity are easily detected with the first sip. However, “umami” flavor is an underlying taste, mostly detected as an aftertaste or when passing the tongue.

Some curious brands of (low-rated) sake have unbalanced flavors, where one flavor is strongly notable while lacking another.

Those who prefer dry, but well-balanced sake might enjoy the acidity upon swallowing the sake, while enjoying the short aftertaste that lingers on the palate; while those who prefer sweet flavors may likely enjoy sake with a fruity note and a mellow flavor with a long-lasting finish.

The most important training is to determine your own axis of flavors, best accomplished by enjoying a wide range of sake, and enjoying the same brand of sake over a period of time.


好みの酒を見つける

酒は嗜好品、しかし“美味しい”ものには普遍的な共通のものがある。
味覚を分析すると;

 ・甘味
 ・酸味
 ・塩味
 ・苦味
 ・旨味

ということになる。料理において、人が“美味しい”と感じる共通の要素はこのバランスにある。“好み”と言われるのは、このバランスがあった上で甘いものが好きな人は“甘味”が他の4味覚より若干強いものを美味しく感じるのである。

日本酒も同じでこれらの味覚(塩味はほとんどない)がいかにバランスよく配分されているかが評価どころである。比較的甘味と酸味は、飲んだ瞬間にアタックしてくるので分かりやすい。しかし、旨味は密かに潜んでおり、後味や舌に通過する時に感じやすい。

ちょっと気になる(評価の低い)酒は、一つの味覚部分が突出していたり、欠けていたりすることで味がちぐはぐになっていることである。

バランスがあった上で辛口が好きな人は、おそらく飲んだ瞬間の酸の立っている、短い余韻の酒を好むだろうし、甘党の人は果実系の香りがあり、まったりとした長い余韻の酒を好むであろう。

一番大切なトレーニングは、自分の味の軸を確立することである。それには、多種類の酒を飲むより、同じ酒をじっくりとある程度の期間飲む方が早道である。


尋覓喜好的酒

酒是滿足個人喜好的飲料;但「美味」的酒都有一些普遍的共通點。
如以味道分析:

 - 甜味
 - 酸味
 - 鹹味
 - 苦味
 - 甘味

則分為以上幾類。在烹飪中,人們感到「美味」的共同要素存在於此一平衡中。在此平衡上,喜歡甜食的人若能嚐到「甜味」比其他四種味道略為濃烈,就會感到「美味」;此謂「喜好」。

而清酒亦然。此等味道(幾乎沒有鹹味)的平衡分布的優劣正是其評價點。相對其他味道,酸味和甜味會在品嚐的瞬間刺激味蕾,故易於分別。然而,甘味會潛藏在內,在餘味中或經過舌頭時容易感覺之。

比較令人在意(低評價)的酒,是其中一種味道突出或欠缺,而導致味道欠缺調和的酒。

喜歡干型(Dry)的人應該會更喜歡在喝的瞬間酸味突出而餘韻短暫的酒;嗜甜的人應該會更喜歡有水果香味,以及餘韻持久的酒。

最重要的訓練是建立個人的品味。而達成以上事情的捷徑,莫過於花費一段時間仔細品嚐相同的酒;比同一時間品嚐各式各樣的酒更為有效。


기호에 맞는 술 찾기

술은 기호품이지만 "맛있는" 것에는 보편적인 공통점이 있습니다.
미각을 분석하면 다음과 같습니다.

 - 단맛
 - 신맛
 - 짠맛
 - 쓴맛
 - 감칠맛

사람이 음식을 "맛있다"라고 느낄 때의 공통점은 이들이 균형을 이룬다는 것입니다. "기호"라는 것은 이들이 먼저 균형을 이룬 후에, 단맛을 좋아하는 사람은 "단맛"이 다른 네 가지 미각보다 약간 강할 때 맛있게 느끼는 것입니다.

니혼슈도 마찬가지인데, 이러한 미각(짠맛은 거의 없음)이 얼마나 균형 있게 배분되어 있는지가 평가 요소가 됩니다. 단맛과 신맛은 마시자마자 느껴지기 때문에 비교적 알아차리기 쉽습니다. 그러나 감칠맛은 살짝 숨어있다가 뒷맛과 혀를 통과할 때 느껴집니다.

다소 우려되는 (낮게 평가되는) 술은 하나의 미각 부분이 지나치게 부각되거나 결여되어 있어 맛 자체가 어우러지지 않습니다.

균형감이 있는 상태에서 쌉쌀한 맛의 술을 좋아하는 사람은 아마도 마시는 순간 신맛이 느껴지는 짧은 여운의 술을 선호할 것이고, 달콤한 술을 좋아하는 사람은 과일향이 나며 부드럽고 감칠맛 나는 여운이 길게 남는 술을 좋아할 것입니다.

가장 중요한 훈련은 자신만의 맛의 축을 확립하는 것입니다. 그렇게 하려면 여러 종류의 술을 마시는 것보다 어느 정도의 기간을 두고 차분하게 마시는 것이 빠른 방법입니다.
#alljapannews #sake

ワオ!と言っているユーザー

“Batsu” “Wara” Be entertained by a Japanese style comedy show while enjoying sushi and sake

スレッド
“Batsu” “Wara” ... “Batsu” “Wara” ... “Batsu” “Wara” ... “Batsu” “Wara” ...
By Aya Ota

Enjoy a Japanese style comedy show in a Japanese festival-like atmosphere while eating sushi and drinking sake ------ A brand-new type of entertainment is attracting a lot of attention.

This very unique business model was born from a collaboration of “Face Off Unlimited Group” which runs comedy shows, and a Japanese restaurant, “Wara”. “Bastu” means “Punishment”, and “Wara” means “LOL” in English. The show presented here was inspired by a popular Japanese TV variety show called “Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!” (by Nippon Television Network), in which 4 actors referred to as “Warriors” play various games, and the loser has to play a punishment game. He would have to eat sushi placed on a gigantic man, get shot by a paint-ball gun, dance in a ballerina outfit, etc.…Sometimes, customers also participate in the games, and experience punishment games as well with the actors. The whole place gets filled with a sense of unity, and gut-wrenching laughter. Some Japanese actors wear kimono, happi coats, Japanese school-girl uniforms, etc., to produce a Japan-like atmosphere.

It started in 2010. “Face Off Unlimited Group” began to present a comedy show once a week at the basement lounge theater of a Japanese restaurant called “Jebon Sushi & Noodle” on St. Marks Place. The show gradually grew popular, and ran more often. “Jebon Sushi & Noodle” ended up closing its doors due to business reasons such as rapid rent hike, and changes in types of customers. However, starting from February of 2019, the “Batsu” started to be showcased every day there by “Wara”, a restaurant run by the same owner. The interior has been modified, focusing for the theater use more, and food and drinks are served in association with the progress of the show. The place has been transformed to a perfectly combined restaurant and show space.

The show runs 7 times a week. There are 2 kinds of admissions; “General Admission” ($39.95/ $35.50 on Tuesdays & Wednesdays), and “VIP” ($65.50 /$60.50 on Tuesdays & Wednesdays). There is also the Kanpai Package ($500), which allows you to use a yatai-like booth for 5 to 6 people, that is situated in the center of the audience section called the Kamiza. The VIP seats and the Kanpai package come with a nice service, in which a hachimaki-headband is distributed to each customer, and an actor dressed as a Ninja serves you sake.

The dishes such as otsumami, salad, sushi and sashimi are served in the izakaya style. To make it easier for the customers to make selections, a lot of thought has been put into the menu categories and number of items by narrowing them down, and naming them easy-to-understand names. They also put thoughts on making the dishes easy to share by many people, and tried to make the food contents and tastes familiar to Americans by offering not only Japanese style cuisine such as tuna tartar, but also Korean style BBQ short ribs, fried potatoes, etc. One popular item is the “Love Boat for Two ($65)”. Its big boat full of colorfully presented sushi and sashimi is very enjoyable. As for alcoholic drinks, there are 5 kinds of Japanese sake and Sapporo brand beer. Many of the customers are still not familiar with Japanese sake. To some, it is the first time to taste sake when a Ninja pours it for them. They offer 4 Japanese fruity sake cocktails that contain mango, lychee, and cranberries for people who are not familiar with sake, and they are well received. Furthermore, when a customer wins in a game, he/she can get free sake or beer, and the MC cheers by saying “Hold your glass up, and Kanpai!”. I think that things like that may be helping customers naturally and quickly get familiarized with Japanese food culture such as sake, sushi, and sashimi.

Customers come by mostly word of mouth, and more than half of them come in groups. They often accommodate events such as corporate parties, birthdays, and bachelor parties. If a customer participates in a game, he/she receives a VIP ticket which can be used at a later date. The receiver of such a ticket would bring another group back next time…as such, customers keep increasing.
This innovative style of entertainment that is unified with Japanese food, which began in New York, has expanded to Chicago. They intend to expand to other cities all over the US. Such a day may not be too far, where you’d see people wearing headbands calling “Batsu, Batsu!” while enjoying sushi and sake, in many cities in the US.


寿司や酒を楽しみながら日本式コメディーショー

日本のお祭りのような雰囲気で、寿司や酒を楽しみながら、日本式コメディショーを楽しむ……全く新しいスタイルのエンターテインメントが注目されている。

この実に独創的な業態は、コメディーショーを運営する『Face Off Unlimited Group』と、日本食店『Wara』とのコラボレーションにより生まれたものだ。“Bastu(罰)”は英語では“Punishment”、“Wara(笑)”は“LOL”の意味。ここで展開されるショーは、日本の人気バラエティ番組『ダウンタウンのガキの使いやあらへんで!(日本テレビ)』に着想を得たもので、“戦士”と呼ばれる4人のアクターが、数々のゲームに挑戦し、負けると罰ゲームを受けさせられる。巨漢の上に盛り付けた寿司を食べさせられたり、ペイントボールを撃ち込まれたり、バレリーナの格好で踊らされたり…時には客もゲームに参加して、アクターと一緒に罰ゲームを体験する。会場は一体感に包まれ、抱腹絶倒だ。日本人アクターも活躍しており、着物やハッピ、女子高生の制服などを着て登場、日本らしさを演出する。

始まりは2010年。『Face Off Unlimited Group』は、セントマークス通りに位置する和食店『Jebon Sushi & Noodle』の地下ラウンジシアターで、週1回のコメディーショーを開始した。ショーは徐々に人気を博し、上演回数も増加。『Jebon Sushi & Noodle』は、家賃高騰や顧客層の変化などビジネス上の理由で閉店することになったが、2019年2月、同じ経営者が展開する日本食店『Wara』にて、『Batsu』が連日開催されることになったのだ。店内は劇場主体の造りへ変更、食事や酒はショーと連動して提供される。完全にレストランとショーが合体した空間として生まれ変わった。

ショーは週7回開催され、チケットは「通常席($39.95/ $35.50 on Tuesdays & Wednesdays)、「VIP席(VIP)($65.50 /$60.50 on Tuesdays & Wednesdays)」の2種類。「乾杯パッケージ($500)」では、上座と呼ばれる、客席中央に設置された5〜6人用の屋台風ブースを使用できる。「VIP席」と「乾杯パッケージ」は、はちまきをくれたり、忍者に扮したアクターが日本酒を注いでくれたりと、楽しいサービス付きだ。

食事は、おつまみ、サラダ、寿司や刺身を居酒屋スタイルで提供する。客が選びやすいように、メニューのカテゴリや数を絞り込み、分かりやすいネーミングを付けるなどの工夫を施す。また、大勢でシェアしやすいことや、米国人に馴染みやすい内容や味付けを心がけ、ツナタルタルのような和風料理から、韓国風BBQ味のショートリブや、フライドポテトなどが揃う。人気の一品は「Love Boat for Two($65)」。大きな舟盛りに色鮮やかな寿司や刺身が並び、楽しませてくれる。酒類は日本酒5種類とサッポロビールを用意。日本酒を飲み慣れない客もまだ多いが、忍者が注いでくれる酒で初体験する人もいる。マンゴーやライチ、クランベリー果汁を使った日本酒カクテルを4種類用意し、日本酒に馴染みのない客にも好評だ。また、客がゲームに参加して勝つと無料の酒やビールを獲得することもでき、司会者が「みんなでグラスを持って、乾杯!」と盛り上げてくれるので、客たちは自然に、日本酒や寿司や刺身など、日本食文化に馴染んでしまうのだろう。

集客はほぼ口コミで、客の大半が団体客。コーポレート・パーティ、誕生会やバチェラー・パーティーなどの機会に利用されることが多いという。客がゲームに参加すると、後日使えるVIPチケットを獲得できるので、その人が次に別の団体を連れてやってくる…という具合に、どんどん客が増えている。

日米の食とエンターテインメントが融合し、ニューヨークで始まったこの画期的なスタイルは、今はシカゴへも拡大。今後、全米の都市への拡大を計画している。頭にはちまきを巻き、「Bastu! Bastu!」と連呼しながら、寿司を食べ、酒を飲む姿が、全米各都市で見られる日もそう遠くないかもしれない。



『Wara』
67 First Avenue
New York, NY
Tel: 347-985-0368
http://batsulive.com/

The restaurant is open when the show is held 7 times a week
Tuesday 7pm
Wednesday 8pm
Thursday 8pm
Friday 7pm/10pm
Saturday 7pm/10pm
#alljapannews #wara #NY

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