Orthodox okonomiyaki arrives in South Bay

Orthodox okonomiyaki arrives ... Orthodox okonomiyaki arrives ... Orthodox okonomiyaki arrives ... Orthodox okonomiyaki arrives ... Orthodox okonomiyaki arrives ...
By Elli Sekine

They say that there are about 1,000 Japanese restaurants in the bay area. It seems very likely, but didn’t really exist was okonomiyaki restaurants.

Okonomiyaki is one of the top Japanese foods which had been considered by the local Japanese and American okonomiyaki fans for a long time as “a Japanese food hoped to exist locally”. And, finally, by a man who had been longing for a delicious okonomiyaki restaurant, the very first okonomiyaki specialty restaurant, “FUGETSU” opened in South Bay.

The idea came from Yasumitsu Yamamoto from Osaka, and Shinya Fujimoto, the restaurant manager. They kicked off an American company, “FUGETSU U.S.A.” in corporation with Takanori Itsukage, CEO, IDEA Co Ltd. Mr. Yamamoto is a veteran restaurateur who runs seven Japanese restaurants around South Bay area. On the other hand, Mr. Fujimoto who manages the restaurant has been residing in the U.S for 20 years, but used to work in the IT industry in Silicon Valley for a long time, and quit from the salary man life to run a restaurant for the first time. What triggered the idea of opening an okonomiyaki restaurant was “Tsuruhashi-FUGETSU” of Osaka which Mr. Fujimoto was a long-time fan of, and used to visit every time he went back to Japan on a business or a private trip. His wish to have such a delicious okonomiyaki place in the bay area gradually grew bigger and bigger.

A while after befriended with Mr. Itsukage of IDEA Co., Mr. Fujimoto proposed a business plan. Everyone from Osaka here in the States may think somewhat the same way, but I take my hat off to Mr. Fujimoto’s ability to take action. The “FUGETSU” chain has about 80 restaurants throughout Japan, but only 5 in Asia as overseas development. “If they can make it in Asia, they should be able to make it in America also.” So convinced, Mr. Fujimoto did all thinkable preparations and trial and error, and finally opened the door of “FUGETSU U.S.A” in the Silicon Valley last November.

In the poor period of Japan after the war, okonomiyaki spread as a street food using cheap ingredients that were attainable at the time. Now, it is a soul food eaten daily, and loved by all from children to elderlies. Okonomiyaki literally means to cook whatever you like on the iron plate. Its cooking style differs from region to region, but there are two main streams; Hiroshima, and Osaka styles. In Hiroshima style, the base dough is poured first on the iron plate like making a crepe, and then other ingredients such as cabbage, noodles, etc. are piled on top of the crepe. On the other hand, in Osaka style, the dough and the ingredients are mixed together before cooked. Osaka where okonomiyaki is eaten the most often, The “FUGETSU” chain is extremely popular. It was born in the 1950s in the barracks of Tsuruhashi which is known as a blue-collar workers town. According to the old couple who used to run the original place there, “the taste of grandma” was carried over in 1989 by Mr. Takanori Itsukage. Since then, the place which used to be only one there expanded to a nationwide scale, and its overseas development is being accelerated.

In fact, a Hiroshima style okonomiyaki restaurant once opened in the bay area more than 10 years ago, but went out of business within a year. As a matter of fact, it is not as easy as you think to make good okonomiyaki. It takes unlikely amount of ingenuity and technique to make a perfect fluffy and delicious okonomiyaki. At “FUGETSU”, special okonomiyaki cooker staff is always there to cook for you, so you can always have high-quality FUGETSU brand okonomiyaki pancakes cooked with the original technique. They are crispy outside and fluffy inside, which is the ultimate Kansai style. The cabbage, the core ingredient, is procured from the contracted farms, and is cut with a watermelon knife to preserve its fibers to retain the volume and the sweetness. The flour for the flavorful dough is made in Japan. The egg noodles for the yakisoba which is made just for them, is boiled carefully for the right amount of time, and comes out as chewy and textured noodles to accentuate the okonomiyaki. Based on those basic ingredients, your favorite ingredients such as pork, seafood etc., are added, Japan-made flavorful shaved bonito tops it as the last ingredient before cooked to perfection on a thick iron plate. To finish, the home-made secret sauce (unchanged from the beginning), and mayonnaise decorate to complete a tasty “FUGETSU” okonomiyaki. The signature menu items are “Pork Modan”, “Squid Modan”, and “FUGETSU-Yaki” which has many ingredients including squid, shrimp, pork, and beef. The word Modan means that the okonomiyaki is layered with Yakisoba. For dinner time, other a-la-carte menu items can be ordered as well. As a drink for pairing, I recommend Asahi draft beer directly imported from Japan. This authentic Osaka style okonomiyaki restaurant has been very busy ever since the opening, and the wait can be as long as one hour.

Lately, I occasionally come across the word “Okonimiyaki” in Korean restaurants and on food trucks. I hope okonomiyaki, which has not yet been known very much in the United States, will become the next boom because of this emerge of “Tsuruhashi FUGETSU” from Osaka, the home of okonomiyaki.


仕掛け人は、大阪出身の山本泰光氏と店舗責任者の藤本真也氏。両氏は株式会社イデア(五影隆則現代表取締)と合弁で米国法人「FUGETSU U.S.A.」 を立ち上げた。山本氏はサウスベイを中心に7店舗の日本食店をベテラン経営者。一方、同店の責任者を務める藤本氏は、在米歴20年。長年勤めていたシリコンバレーのIT企業 から脱サラをし、今回初めてのレストラン経営者となる。オープンのきっかけは、藤本氏が出張や帰省の度に通っていた大阪の「鶴橋風月」のファンだった事から。次第にこのような美味しいお好み焼き店がベイエリアにあれば良いという強い想いを募らせた。やがて五影氏と交流をするようになったある日、藤本氏からビジネスプランを提案したという。大阪出身の在米者なら誰もが願う事だが、彼の実行力には脱帽だ。「風月」は現在、日本全国に約80店舗を数えるが、海外ではまだアジア地区に5店舗のみ。「アジアに進出できたなら米国でもできるはず」と確信を抱いた同氏は、あらゆる下準備と試行錯誤を重ね、ついに去年11月末、シリコンバレーに「FUGETSU U.S.A.」のドアを開いた。


実はベイエリアには10数年前に広島風お好み焼き店がオープンしている。しかし一年を待たずに閉店した。結局のところ、さほど難しくないと思われがちなお好み焼きは、ふっくら美味しく仕上げるには至難の工夫と技を必要とする。「FUGETSU] では、お好みを焼く専門スタッフが常駐し、オリジナルの手法で、「風月」ブランドそのままのクオリティー高いお好み焼きが食べられる。外はパリパリ、中はふっくり焼きあげるのは関西風の極みだ。要となるキャベツは、特定の農家から仕入れ、スイカ包丁で繊維を残しながら切り、質感と甘みを引き立て、生地となる小麦粉は風味のある日本国産、焼きそばになるたまご麺は独自で作り茹で時間も微調整し、もっちり歯ごたえがある麺がアクセントになる。これらの材料を元に豚やシーフードなど「お好み」の具材を混ぜ、最後に日本国産の香りの良い鰹節を投入し、厚い鉄板でじっくり焼き上げる。仕上げは秘伝の自家製ソース(開店当初から変わらない)とマヨネーズで香ばしい「風月」のお好み焼きは完成する。看板メニューは、「豚玉モダン」、「いか玉モダン」、いか、えび、ぶた、牛肉の具材たっぷりの「風月焼」など。モダンとは焼きそばが入る重ねやき。ディナーメニューにはさらに一品メニューが揃う。相性が良いドリンクとして日本輸入のアサヒドラフトビールがオススメだ。この本格的大阪風のお好み焼き店、すでに開店当初から1時間以上の列ができるほど繁栄している。


2783 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95051
(408) 244-8500
Open every day : 11:30AM–2PM, 6–10PM
#alljapannews #okonomiyaki #fugetsy #southbay


“American customers are desiring to enjoy sake”

By Yuji Matsumoto

American customers who come to Japanese restaurants anticipate enjoying cuisine and beverages not available in general American restaurants or supermarkets. According to a previously publicized survey, 70 American customers asked what they most look forward to at a Japanese restaurant said they “wanted to enjoy Japanese sake.” In reality however, most American customers end up ordering Japanese beer or house sake.

Here, we explain how to sell Japanese sake without the presence of staff knowledgable about sake or sake sommelier.

Restaurant’s approach
1. Does the name of the sake brand, regardless of it’s price, characteristics of the flavor, and pairing recommendations with menu items (sales points) listed in the menu?

Example) XXsake Junmai Ginjo Nagano prefecture
An exquisite sake presented by a sake brewer with over 300 years of traditions. A fruity aroma very unique for a Japanese sake and balanced acidity greatly enhances the delicious flavors of richly flavored meat dishes. Pairing recommendations are the Duck marinated with miso, Cod marinated with kasuzuke.

$8.00/glass (4 oz.) $32.00/bottle (720 ml.)
(Contacting each sake vendor for information on Japanese sake brands is recommended)

2. Are sample portions offered in small quantities for tasting?
The purpose is to review sales by the glass at reasonable prices for customers to try the sake. If sake is sold by the bottle at approximately $50 to 70, customers won’t feel like sampling it, so offering glasses at $5~8 or sampler sets is recommended.

3. How is the visibility of Japanese sake brands in the store?
Advertise Japanese sake by placing empty bottles as decoration, or use POP effects to bring attention to new arrivals and recommendation of the month.

4. While American customers aren’t particular in this area, is there variety offered in “appetizers that encourage the enjoyment of Japanese sake?”
Please take this into consideration.

Server side’s Approach
1. Understand the sake characteristics (sales point) and brand names recommended by the restaurant. It is especially important to train American servers to practice pronouncing difficult Japanese sake names correctly.

2. For recommending sake, have servers actually sample the sake individually and also paired with menu selections, so they can recommend each brand with confidence.

3. Consider offering incentives such as commission to servers for selling the sake.



① メニューに日本酒の名前、価格のみならず味の特徴、食事とのペアリング(セールスポイント)が書かれているか?
例)XX酒  純米吟醸  長野県
$8.00/グラス(4 oz.) $32.00/ボトル(720ml.)

② 顧客が試しに飲んでもよい容量でサーブされているか?

③ 店での日本酒の視覚的認識を高めているか?

④ アメリカ人はさほど拘らないが、それでも価格帯とポーションを考慮した“日本酒がすすむ料理”(アペタイザー)のバラエティーがあるか?


① 店側が勧める酒の特徴(セールスポイント)と名前を把握すること。

② 勧める理由を味、食事とのペアリングなど実際の体験をさせ自信を持って勧めさせる。

③ 何らかのインセンティブも検討する。
#alljapannews #Japanese #sake


“Kokushu” Project to “Cool Japan”

By Kosuke Kuji

Japanese liquor has been a culture which is unique to Japan since the ancient times. It exists only in Japan, and people started to call it “Kokushu” (the alcoholic beverages of the nation) some time ago. Every Japanese Prime Minister in the recent past wrote the word “Kokushu” in kanji in his own handwriting on a fancy paper message board, and presented it to Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association soon after being inaugurated.

The concept of “sake = National liquor” is highly recognized, and one that the Japanese sake industry is proud of; however, among the general public, this national value is not very recognized, and the difference in recognition level has been an issue at times.

In the meantime, under the rule of the Democratic Party, the government has made it clear by Motohisa Furukawa, Minister of State for National Policy, to go forward with supporting overseas development of Japanese saké and shochu by positioning them as the “National Liquor”.

This is a policy in which the nation recognizes sake and shochu made in Japan as the “National Liquor”, and promote them to the world. This was the long-awaited official recognition and announcement, and was very exciting to the brewing industry.

By recognizing them as the “National Liquor”, sales channels will be expanded, increase in demand in overseas will be encouraged, and they will be presented as a part of the Japanese culture approved by the Japanese government.

After the Liberal Democratic Party took office, the name of the policy was changed to “Cool Japan”. The overseas promotion policy for the national liquor became more energized, and is still getting stronger.

The Cool Japan policy is purposed not only for overseas promotion, but also for the rejuvenation of relevant regions, and expansion of demand for rice, the ingredient of sake and shochu, which resulted in supporting sake and shochu by a horizontal connection including the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. Moreover, this support policy got linked to the introduction of the value of Japanese liquor targeted to the tourists who visit Japan from overseas.

Gradually, Japanese sake and shochu are getting recognition in the world as a part of typical traditional Japanese culture, and the government has issued an official “Guarantee”. We would like to keep further promoting public awareness of Japanese sake and shochu as the National Liquor, not only in the United States, but all over the world. We, breweries, will strive for it, looking forward to the arrival of the era where people come to Japan from all over the world to enjoy Japanese liquor.









#alljapannews #sake #kokushu #coolJapan


Japanese-style cooking created by New York-born Japanese

Japanese-style cooking create... Japanese-style cooking create... Japanese-style cooking create... Japanese-style cooking create... Japanese-style cooking create...
By Aya Ota

In NoHo district of Manhattan, there is a restaurant that stands hidden like a hideout. Once you step into the place, a nostalgic and warm space opens out in front of you.

“We would like all kinds of people to relax and enjoy in a nostalgic ambience,” the owner, Maiko Kyogoku explains about the origin of the name, “Bessou” (which means a vacation home). She is a true New Yorker who never lived in Japan although both of her parents are Japanese. She says that she recognized her identity as Japanese, and learned Japanese culture through the home cooking made by her parents. She opened this restaurant hoping to have people enjoy Japanese home-style cooking, not limited to sushi, ramen, etc.

The concept of the restaurant fully reflects Ms. Kyogoku’s personality and characteristics. Creativity and ingenuity that are unique to a New York-born Japanese can be seen everywhere in the restaurant where both elements of tradition and innovation co-exist.

The menu was created by Ms. Kyogoku and Emily Yuen, the executive chef. Ms. Yuen has worked and shown her skills in various well-known Michelin-star awarded restaurants, and is specialized in world-wide cuisines including French and Mediterranean. She was also trained by the father of Ms. Kyogoku who was the owner/chef of “Sushi Rikyu” to master the basics of traditional and genuine Japanese cuisine. She also uses ingredients and the cooking style of Tohoku regions because Ms. Kyogoku’s mother is from Akita. Ms. Kyogoku says, “This restaurant is an extension of my home, and I want it to be the home of every customer who comes here”. The menu reflects her remark, and there are even items with ingredients and styles of Middle Eastern and European cuisines, which provides a mysterious nostalgic feeling to everybody.

In order to help customers to imagine the volume of each dish, the menu is categorized into 3 sections; “Otsumami-Home Style Japanese Bites”, “Small Dishes”, and “Large Dishes”. Each dish is named as simple as possible, but also tried to make it easy for the customers who are not familiar with izakaya-style menus to understand by including some English words to familiarize them. The same effort has been tried for the sake menu. Instead of Junmai, Dai-Ginjo, etc., it is categorized by the flavors such as “Balanced, Dry, and Clean”, “Juicy, Fragrant, and Rich”, etc. to make it easier to decide.

“Grilled Romaine” ($14) is a plate of grilled Romaine lettuce topped with dried baby sardines and quail eggs covered with creamy sesame dressing. Some Americans think that it tastes similar to American Cesar salad. “Fritto Miso” ($18) is an item which has a large gap from the image of Japanese name, Namban-zuke. The version which a Japanese person normally imagine is fried and sauce-covered, but in their version, the sauce is on the side. The sauce accented by mayor lemons is not thickened, and refreshing. The “Inaniwa Udon” ($24) is served with kakiage vegetable tempura which is fluffy and stands tall like a tower to please your eyes. This dish is an excellent combination of rightly textured udon noodles and crunchy kakiage. Kakuni is usually made with pork, but their “Beef Short Rib Kakuni” ($34) is beef. The boldly served boned beef is cooked to so tender that the meat falls off of the bones easily. This dish is served with the side of home-made satsuma-age fish cake and chickpeas, which looks like cocido, a Spanish dish, to some customers. There are not many items in the menu, but each item is intricately prepared, and very unique.

Although they never advertise, they were featured in “zagat”, “New York Times”, etc. immediately after its opening with good reviews, and customers have been kept coming without a break ever since. “We don’t need to serve popular items such as sushi and ramen to keep running this place successfully. The new Yorkers are adventuresome and full of spirit, and always seek new and different cuisines,” says Ms. Kyogoku, analyzing the reason for the success.  

Although Ms. Kyogoku’s father was running a sushi restaurant, he did not really wanted her to get into the restaurant business. It may be because he knew this non-stop and hard scheduled business so well through his own experience.

However, Ms. Kyogoku had loved the restaurant environment ever since she was very young, and always had a dream of someday having her own restaurant. She was once employed by an artist, Takashi Murakami, but after quitting the job, she built her restaurant career working in various top-class restaurants as a hostess, a manager, or an event director until she finally opened her own place in August of 2016. Using such extensive experience, she sometimes holds an event to learn how to make gyoza, offers Japanese traditional and seasonal dishes such as new-years osechi, or seasonal nabe dishes, etc. She also started to hold the test kitchen event by inviting a guest chef, and also started to offer week-end brunch. This is a place where the possibility of Japanese home cooking widens. I urge you to visit this restaurant!




メニューは、京極氏とエミリー・ユアン料理長で考案した。ユアン氏はミシュラン星を獲得した数々の名店で腕を奮い、フレンチや地中海など世界各国の料理に精通したシェフだ。ユアン氏は、かつて『Sushi Rikyu』のオーナーシェフを務めた京極氏の父親から訓練を受け、本格的かつ伝統的な日本料理の基礎をしっかり身につけたという。そして、京極氏の母親が秋田県出身ということを意識し、秋田をはじめとした東北地方由来の食材や料理も取り入れている。「この店は、自分の家庭の延長でもあり、訪れる客全員にとっての家庭でもありたい」と京極氏が語るように、メニューからは、中東や欧米料理で使われるような素材や味付けを感じることもあり、誰にとっても不思議な懐かしさがある。

メニュー構成は、居酒屋スタイルに不慣れな客でも、量を想像しやすいように「おつまみ/Otsumami-Home Style Japanese Bites」「前菜/Small Dishes」「主菜/Large Dishes」の3つに分類している。メニュー名はできるだけシンプルにしつつも、米国人に親しみのある単語を入れて、内容を分かりやすく説明するよう心がけている。日本酒メニューも、純米や大吟醸という種類ではなく、「Balance, Dry,Clean」「Juicy, Fragrant, Rich」のようにフレーバーで分類し、選びやすい工夫をしている。



5 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10012
Tel: 212-228-8502

Tuesday through Sunday from 5:30PM
#alljapannews #newyork #bessou #Japanese #restaurant #noho #manhattan


Ramen you enjoy in Showa-era-like retro-inspired ambience

Ramen you enjoy in Showa-era... Ramen you enjoy in Showa-era... Ramen you enjoy in Showa-era... Ramen you enjoy in Showa-era... Ramen you enjoy in Showa-era...
By Keiko Fukuda

Jidaiya Ramen Dining in Gardena will have its fifth anniversary of the grand opening in April of this year. This is a very popular place which has been featured in various media in the past. “We were inexpert about ramen when we first opened,” says Taigo Sato, the co-owner/general manager.

Mr. Sato and the owner/chef and Masataka Hirai have been running Torihei, an izakaya in Torrance, which serves yakitori and oden dishes. Torihei used to serve ramen on its a-la-carte menu. They wanted more people to enjoy the ramen, and opened a ramen specialized restaurant, Jidaiya, separate from Torihei. The number of customers kept increasing right after the opening, but after a while, the customers suddenly stopped coming. The reason was the taste of the soup. “We were using the same staff, and the same recipe, but for some reason, the taste of the soup had become dull. After some research, we found out that it was caused by the temperature at the time when the soup was strained. We solved the problem, and restored the good taste of the soup, but it was not easy to bring back the customers who once left,” says Mr. Sato in a reminiscing mood.

In order to get the regulars back, and to gain new customers, Jidaiya started to try various things. First, the interior was renewed to make a retro-inspired ambience of the Showa-era. The restaurant is decorated with nostalgic ads with old kanjis, a tube TV set, etc. They have restaurants in Japan as well, so Mr. Hirai and Mr. Sato bought those old signs at auctions, etc. during the business trips to Japan to bring them to the U.S. Thus, the interior space, which gives a relaxing feel to those who knew the Showa-era, and a refreshingly different feel to others and Americans who are not at all familiar with such an era, was created.

Moreover, promotional stamp cards were distributed to the customers in order to attract repeat visitors. A free gyoza plate after the third visit, and a free ramen bowl after 12 visits, etc. were offered with those cards (they are no longer doing it). In addition, they participated in an event for the Ramen Festival, adding the special menu item that was developed for the event, Ramen Burger, to the regular menu for a certain period, etc., and succeeded in bringing back the current popularity they once had.

Being featured in “Westways”, the AAA magazine gave them a big break. Mr. Sato says, “We were interviewed without really knowing, and found ourselves being featured in the magazine,” says Mr. Sato. Americans who saw the article started to swarm into the restaurant. However, it did not end as a temporary phenomenon. Even now, a wide variety of customers in different race groups keep coming for the tasty ramen.

The most popular item is the tonkotsu ramen. The reasonable pricing of less than $10 per bowl is another attractive point. “Pricing is based on the Japanese standard. In Japan, people do not expect to pay more than 1,000 yen for a bowl of ramen. Not only is the price reasonable, but the volume is big so the customers should think that the cost performance for them is excellent”, says Mr. Sato.

Their ramen is served in Ehime-prefecture’s Tobe Ware bowls. “In order to retain the hot temperature of ramen until the last bite, we chose this Tobe Ware as the best candidate after searching through Japan. The bowls are rather expensive, but we chose them because they are baked multiple times with high heat, are durable, and most importantly, retain heat well so that the ramen and the soup can be enjoyed at the best temperature until the last drop. We will continue using the Tobe Ware bowls.”

Compared to five years ago when Jidaiya first opened, the number of ramen restaurants around Los Angeles has increased quite a bit. So, what would be the strategy to survive this so called ramen war era? Mr. Sato answers, “To keep offering ramen with consistency in taste, and good cost performance (reasonable price)”. They are thinking about a third restaurant to follow Torihei and Jidaiya targeting around the year 2020.





AAA発行の雑誌「WestWays」に紹介されたことも大きかった。「知らないうちに取材されて雑誌に載っていました」と佐藤さんも言うように、気づけば雑誌を見たアメリカ人が店に押しかけるようになった。しかし、それは一時的な現象にとどまらず、 通しで営業している同店には、今でも人種問わず幅広い層の人々がラーメンを求めて来店する。



5年前、時代家がオープンした時に比べて現在は、ロサンゼルス周辺のラーメン店の数は格段に増加している。まさにラーメン戦国時代と言える中にあって、時代家の生き残り策とは? その問いに「安定した味、コストパフォーマンスの良いラーメンを今後も提供していくことです」と佐藤さんは答えた。さらに、とり平、時代家に続くアメリカでの3店舗目は、2020年頃を目処に計画しているそうだ。

Jidaiya Ramen Dining
18537 S Western Ave
Gardena, CA 90248
(310) 532-0999
7 Days Open
#alljapannews #ramen #showaera #jidaiya #dinig #LA #gardena


Fresh air of Japan Town! Uncompromising “Dashi Ramen”

Fresh air of Ja... Fresh air of Ja... Fresh air of Ja... Fresh air of Ja... Fresh air of Ja... Fresh air of Ja... Fresh air of Ja...
By Elli Sekine

In November of last year, a new style of “wafu” (Japanese) ramen appeared in San Francisco’s Japan Town which is known for the area as one of the hottest battle grounds for the ramen business. Lately, in Japan Town, due to the continuing generation change, the appearance of the town is slowly changing to “Asian-style” rather than Japanese. In such an environment, a long-hoped wish, a strong ambition “to spread traditional Japanese dashi taste to the world”, of the owner, Ikuto Kurihara, came alive. Mr. Kurihara is the fourth CEO of “Sasala” Group, a long-established Japanese restaurant chain, and runs 4 restaurants in Hasuda city, Saitama prefecture. He chose San Francisco as the first overseas branch, the fifth restaurant chain, “Hinodeya”. Their wafu-dashi ramen which may replace the current tonkotsu–base ramen boom has been heating up since the opening. This fourth CEO is like a samurai who challenges the U.S restaurant market with the traditional Japanese taste on the front banner he holds.

Born into a long-established Japanese restaurant environment, Mr. Kurihara went into the cooking world when he was a teenager. He inherited the family business sometime after the year 2000. Since then, he has expanded the business to 4 different themed restaurants, soba, Japanese food, etc. The fourth one, “The Fourth Generation Hinodeya” which served the dashi ramen in the hopes of taking it to the United States, won “The Best Ramen 2014”. The very settled and well-thought concept, rather than an idea of the moment, is bearing fruit in San Francisco.

The signature menu, “Hinodeya Ramen” is the ultimate Japanese taste which Mr. Kurihara created by working so hard on it. I asked him why he chose ramen as the means of spreading the traditional dashi taste, and he answered, “The most familiar Japanese food to Americans currently is ramen. Most of the other ramen shops serve mainly tonkotsu-base soup, but I wanted to serve the Japanese taste I have been acquiring in the form of ramen”. As for the reason for choosing San Francisco as the first overseas location, he said, “I recognize that the melting pot that sends information of the latest trend in foods is here in San Francisco. I believe that cuisine approved in this town shall be approved all over the United States, and eventually by the whole world.” His strategy already depicts 10 years from now.

What does the “Dashi Ramen” taste like? In short, it is delicate and tender with a fragrance of fresh bonito and kombu flavors. This is the ramen of concentrated umami. Unlike the current main-stream ramen flavors that are dominant in the ramen boom such as rich tonkotsu, spice-added, or stimulating flavors with karaage or tonkatsu toppings, it is light with a hint of sweetness. The men (noodles) to match the dashi soup is also different. It is medium-thick like between ramen and udon, and soft, and moist, with a lipid and chewy texture. It is very delicate. The toppings are thinly sliced chashu pork, light-taste boiled egg, etc., which go well with the soup, and also mix easily with the men. Crispy julienne Tokyo negi (leek) accentuates the soup. The spacious counter is decorated with sake bottles, and used as a space for waiting customers.

Chef Shibata from “Sasala” Japanese restaurant in Japan was displaying his skills as the opening chef here. He told me his impression about the ramen boom in the United States; “Preparation starts in the early morning. There is no difference between a ramen restaurant and a Japanese food restaurant. I would like to express true Japanese taste by riding on the same lucky wave of this ramen boom”. In their menu, you see the kind of a-la-carte dishes you find in a long-established Japanese restaurant besides ramen. ”Crispy Fried Yam” ($8) in the Okazu menu, for instance, is slightly crispy in the center, but the surface is fluffy, and the thin skin is still attached. The Chinese yam is fried for a very short time to retain the texture, and served with a fragrant house sesame sauce. A popular dish from the side dish menu is the “Cheese Royal” ($5), which was named after Kiko, Princess Akishino, who loved the marinated cheese dish in the menu when they had a chance to serve the Royal family. There are more original dishes, which the long-established restaurant boasts of, such as tender tebasaki chicken cooked in dashi ($8), nori konnyaku (seaweed yam cake), cooked young bamboo shoot, etc. You can also order omakase-style meals if reserved in advance.

It is almost a miracle that the proud family dashi recipe which has been kept a secret for more than 130 years came to the United States. The beautiful exterior which stands out in the decrepit mall, and the sophisticated interior are designed by specialists. Things of Japanese atmosphere scattered in the interior space, the table ware, and the service produce Japanese style hospitality. This is a restaurant where you can truly feel the spirit of the fourth CEO who hopes to spread “Japanese cuisine”, a chosen intangible cultural heritage, to the world.


ラーメンの激戦区、SF日本町に去年11月、「和風」ラーメンの新星が登場した。近年、日本町では世代交代が相次ぎ、町の様相も“アジア系” に変わりつつある。そんな中、「日本伝統の出汁味を世界に広げたい」という高い志を持つ経営者、栗原生人氏の長年の構想が始動している。栗原氏は、老舗和食店4代目、「彩々楽」(ササラ)グループ代表取締役で、埼玉県蓮田市で4件のレストランを経営している。今回、5件目のオープンが海外1号店が和風ラーメン「Hinodeya」だ。この新店舗は、米国に広がる豚骨中心の中心のブームを一世風靡するような和風出汁味。その新しい味を体験しようと、去年11月のソフトオープンからヒートアップしている。4代目は日本の伝統の味を提げ米国外食市場に挑むサムライのような存在だ。

和食老舗店に生まれた栗原氏は、 10代の頃から料理界に入り、稼業を継いだのは2000年に入ってから。現在まで蕎麦屋から和食店など各テーマを持つ4店舗に拡大している。4店舗目の「四代目ひのでや」は、米国への進出を見込んで出汁ラーメンを提供したところ、「埼玉ベストラーメン2014」を受賞した。単なる思い付きではない、腰を据えての構想は今サンフランシスコで実を結んでいる。
 看板メニュー、「Hinodeya Ramen」は、栗原氏が切磋琢磨して創り上げた和風の極みだ。ラーメンという手段を選んだ理由について、「現在アメリカ人に一番親しまれている日本食がラーメンだった。でも見渡せばほとんどの店は豚骨スープで、私が培った和風味をラーメンという形で賞味して欲しいという思いです」と栗原氏。そして海外1店舗目にサンフランシスコを選んだ理由について、「食トレンドの最新情報発信基地がここにあると認識しました。ここで認められた料理は全米、やがて世界に通用するという展望です」と答えた。その戦略はすでに10年先の構想が描かれている。


オープニングの料理長には、日本の「彩々楽」(ささら)和食店から柴田シェフが腕をふるっていた。アメリカのラーメンブームの印象を同氏は、「このブームにあやかり、本当の和風の味を表現したいと思っています」と答えてくれた。仕込みは早朝から始まる。ラーメン店でありながら和食店と変わりはない。メニューはラーメン以外にも老舗和食店ならではの一品料理が並ぶ。例えばOkazu から「Crispy Fried Yam」($8)は、微妙な食感を中心に残しながらも周りはホクホクして薄い皮もそのまま、柔らかく食感を残す長芋をサッと揚げたものに香ばしい自家製セサミソース付きやおつまみから人気なのは「Cheese Royal」($5)。メニュー名の由来は、食事を天皇家族にお出しした際、紀子様が漬けチーズを非常にお気に召した事から付けられたとか。その他、柔らかく出汁で煮込んだ手羽先($8)や海苔こんにゃく、若竹煮込みなども老舗が誇るオリジナルだ。予約によってはオマカセメニューも用意している。


1737 Buchanan St
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 757-0552

Wed-Non 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Sat,Sun 11:30 am - 2:30 pm
Closed on Tuesday
#alljapannews #ramen #sanfrancisco #hinodeya


Japanese Sake and Shochu Cocktail

By Yuji Matsumoto

It's somewhat wasteful to use a high quality local regional sake for a cocktail, but if you use one that doesn't have too much of that full or rich taste when drank alone or doesn't have the distinctive smell of rice that many Japanese sakes have, you can make cocktails by adding fruits or syrups that brings out a surprising deliciousness.  Also, for the original Shochu made by mono-distillation that are mellow with fine taste and richness should definitely be enjoyed on the rocks, but for Shochu made by continuous distillation that have little to no taste or smell, like white liquor (distilled liquor use to make Umeshu etc.), are suitable for cocktails.  
For this issue, let me introduce you to sake and shochu cocktails that are also easy to make at home.
Nigori Sake and Peach Juice
3 oz. Nigori sake
1 oz. peach juice (nectar family)
0.5 oz. peach syrup
Mix the above items with ice, and pour into a well chilled martini glass.
Its look will also be pink and popular cocktail with the ladies.
Pomegranate Martini with Japanese Sake
2 oz.  Sake
1 oz.  Shochu
1 oz.  pomegranate juice
0.5 oz.  pomegranate syrup
Mix the above items with ice and shake well in a shaker.   Pour into a well chilled martini glass.  It has the distinctive sourness and bitterness of pomegranate that is a cocktail fit for adults.  For Shochu, use Korean made and Jinro shochu is best.
Shochu Grapefruit Mojito
2 oz. Shochu
1 oz. sake
0.5 oz. yuzu juice with no salt
7-8  mint leaves
0.5 oz.  syrup (ratio of 2 sugar to 1 hot water.  Stir until completely dissolved and chilled until it reaches
 room temperature)
Add the above items and grind down the mint with a muddler.  Add ice and pour into a glass and dilute with club soda.
The fresh aroma of yuzu, grapefruit and mint is the characteristic.  Caution is needed due to tendency to over drink.




3 oz. にごり酒 
1 oz. ピーチジュース(ネクター系)
0.5 oz. ピーチシロップ 

2 oz. 日本酒 
1 oz. 焼酎
1 oz. ザクロジュース
0.5 oz. ザクロシロップ

2 oz. 焼酎
1 oz. 日本酒
0.5 oz. 無塩ユズジュース
3 oz. グレープフルーツジュース
7~8 ミント葉
0.5 oz. シロップ(砂糖2に対してお湯1の割合。完全に溶けるまで混ぜ、常温になるまで冷ますこと)
#alljapannews #sake #shochu #cocktail


"Tohoku Sake Awards in Fall"

By Kosuke Kuji

Sponsored by the Sendai Regional Taxation Bureau, last fall's Tohoku Sake Awards was held in Sendai.  Annual Japan Sake Awards was sponsored by the National Tax Agency many years ago, but now it is joint sponsored by Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association and National Research Institute of Brewing.  The Sake Awards that is sponsored by the Regional Taxation Bureau is sponsored by each local regional taxation bureau like Sendai, Kanto Koshinetsu, Nagoya etc., and Tohoku holds their sake awards in the fall. 

The gold prize at the Annual Japan Sake Awards for Tohoku 6 prefectures was #1 in Japan for 6 years in a row, and considered to be an area with high percentage of breweries to receive the most gold prizes in Japan.

For the national average, the percentage to win the gold prize is about 20%, but if you do the math for Tohoku 6 Prefectures, it comes out to about 40% which makes them proud to be twice the percentage of the national average to receive the gold prize.  Tohoku is a region that undoubtedly has the highest level of technology in Japan, and this has continued to be the case for the last 8 years. 

For such a Tohoku's sake awards in fall, from a group of brewers that has received the most gold prizes in Japan, they must use even stricter judgements in deciding the gold prize which makes their sake awards probably the most difficult to win in Japan. 

This most challenging Tohoku Sake Awards has 2 large divisions of "Ginjo category" and "Junmai category", and the brewers that win the gold prize have the honor to be awarded the prize from the Sendai Regional Taxation Bureau Chief during a solemn ceremony.

Also, from the gold prizes, a "Grand Prize" for the most outstanding and a "Honor Prize" for the next outstanding is  awarded.

The grand prize means being No. 1 in Tohoku which has the highest level brewery in Japan and is also known as being "Japan's #1 Title."

At this fall's Tohoku sake awards, can you believe our company's Daiginjo received the "Grand Prize" in the Ginjo category!

Also in the Junmai category, our company's Junmai Daiginjo received the "Honor Prize!"  We reached the outstanding achievement of receiving No. 1 & No. 2 awards in both categories!!

It is just unbelievable that this means we were selected as the #1 brewery in Tohoku both in name and reality. 

I am most honored and thankful.  I have reached one of my goals in my life.
I will not let this get to my head and devote more efforts to this year's sake making and plan to work hard than ever before. 











#alljapannews #tohoku #sake #awards #JunmaiDaiginjo


Counter only small diner to enjoy creative Japanese cuisine, sake, and wine

Counter only small diner to en... Counter only small diner to en... Counter only small diner to en... Counter only small diner to en... Counter only small diner to en... Counter only small diner to en...
By Aya Ota

Brick walls, spacious wooden counter, tastefully decorated interior, and beautiful tableware---It is a space which looks like an art gallery, but actually a restaurant that magically makes you feel welcomed. The restaurant is “Rabbit House”, where you can enjoy creative Japanese style tapas dishes with sake and wine in a casual ambience. It is located in the middle point between the Lower East Side and China Town, where some changes have been seen lately with new comers of galleries and general stores, but still mainly occupied by Chinese restaurants and general stores. It is rather surprising to see such a sophisticated looking space hidden in such an area.

“I like to cook, but I like to eat even more. I also like to drink sake and wine. Nothing pleases me more than hearing people enjoy my cooking, and sake that I eagerly selected myself”, says Yoshiko Sakuma, the owner and chef. Rabbit House opened in March of 2016 to realize her extremely simple passion. Her grandparents were farmers, and her parents were both cooks. She developed the delicate sense of tastes in growing up surrounded by fresh and high-quality food ingredients. It must have been natural for her to grow up to be in the cooking world. She came to the United States 20 years ago, and built up experiences working in notable restaurants and bakeries, and in 2010, went to Italy and Spain to show off her skills in various restaurants.

As implied in her quote, “I want to offer our customers something that leaves an impression which nowhere else can,” the dishes Ms. Sakuma creates are full of originality and playfulness, which you don’t see anywhere else. The “Oyster Shot” in the Tasting Course offered as an amusement, is an oyster dish with dessert wine jelly and beer poured over it. You indulge yourself in tasting the superb harmony of freshness, sweetness, and slight bitterness while admiring the beautiful presentation. The “Addicted Spare Rib” has a volume that exceeds the category of an appetizer. It is a unique dish marinated in sake and soy sauce overnight, and flavored with curry spice. As the name indicates, the taste is addictive, and the regulars order this dish all the time. The “Trapped Rabbit” is a dish of extracted umami. Shiitake mushrooms and baby carrots are rolled up with rabbit meat caul fat. Every dish gives you a surprise and an impression when delivered in front of you, and again when you taste it. The carefully selected line of alcoholic beverages is also unique by her extensive knowledge in sake as a sake sommelier, and wine knowledge she acquired in Spain and Italy, which you do not see anywhere else. You cannot help keep pairing with every dish you taste.

The name, Rabbit House, literally means a house for rabbits, and is an expression to deprecatingly indicate how small Japanese houses are. The eating space has only 9 counter seats, and basically only one person handles everything from cooking to serving. All the menu items--appetizers, main dishes, desserts, and cocktails, are created by her. The ingredients don’t come from any particular place, but are carefully selected based on the taste. Especially the quality of selected meat is at a fine dining level. Although the menu items have been narrowed down, this one person makes everything with a lot of care without skipping any necessary steps in this limited kitchen space. She also accommodates for vegan and gluten-free requests.

“Every day is a process of trial and error. I am good at creating, but not at selling,” says Ms. Sakuma. She said that it was difficult to attract customers to the restaurant because of the location that has not much traffic. She used the “Groupon” vouchers for advertisement, but it worked negatively for the image of the restaurant, and resulted in bad reviews. She turned all those mistakes around, and changed them to positive power, pursued what should be done in this limited space and man-power, and kept trying to make improvements. She reached a conclusion, which was, “to tell customers what I can do, and what I cannot do clearly. Customers’ satisfaction relies heavily on good communication.” This straight-forwardness and honesty of Ms. Sakuma must be one of the appeals of this restaurant. Now, supported by the regular customers, they get reviewed highly on the internet, and has become able to attract customers by word of mouth.

Actually, there used to be 6 tables in addition to the existing 9 counter seats before, but it was changed not long ago to the present operation style. She would like to take in the “Chef’s Tasting Table” concept, and have customers enjoy conversations while enjoying the tastes of food and wine. I truly look forward to the future development of this restaurant.


煉瓦造りの壁、広々とした木製カウンター、センスのよい調度品や食器類……まるでギャラリーのような空間だが、不思議に居心地のよい店がある。ここ『Rabbit House』では、創意工夫に富んだ和風タパスと一緒に日本酒やワインをカジュアルに楽しめる。場所はロウワーイーストサイドとチャイナタウンの中間地点。最近でこそギャラリーや雑貨店なども新しく登場し変化を遂げつつあるが、まだまだ中国系飲食店や雑貨店が多く建ち並ぶこの地域に、「まさか、こんな洒落た店がひっそりと隠れているなんて」と驚かされる。

「作るのも好きだが食べるのはもっと好き。お酒やワインも好き。自分が作った料理を喜んでもらえて、自分がこだわって選んだお酒を美味しいと言ってもらえるのが、何よりうれしい」――オーナーシェフを務める佐久間良子氏の至極シンプルな情熱を形にして、2016年3月に誕生したのが、この『Rabbit House』だ。佐久間氏は、祖父母は農家、両親は料理人という家系で生まれ育ち、新鮮で高品質な素材に囲まれ、繊細な味覚を養ってきた。同氏が料理の道に進んだのはごく自然な流れだったのだろう。約20年前に渡米後は、ニューヨークの蒼々たるレストランやベーカリーで経験を積み、2010年にはイタリアとスペインに渡り、数々の店で腕を奮ってきた。

「世の中に数多くの店がある中で、うちに来てくれた客には、印象に残る何かを提供したい」と語る佐久間氏が創り出す料理は、他店にはない独創性と遊び心にあふれている。テイスティングコースを注文するとアミューズとして登場する「Oyster Shot」は、牡蠣にデザートワインで作ったゼリーとビールを注いだ一品。美しい盛り付けに目を奪われながら、爽やかさと甘さとほろ苦さの絶妙な調和を堪能する。「Addicted Spare Rib」は、とても前菜とは思えないボリューム。日本酒と醤油で一晩漬け込み、カレースパイスで風味付けした独創的な一品。名前の通り病みつきになる味で、常連客も毎回注文するほどだ。「Trapped Rabbit」は、椎茸やベイビーキャロットをウサギ肉と網脂で巻き込み、うま味を凝縮した一品。どの料理も、目の前に出される度に、そして料理を口に運ぶ度に、感動と驚きがある。酒ソムリエとしての日本酒知識と、スペイン・イタリア滞在で身につけたワインの知識をフルに活かして厳選した酒類ラインナップも個性的で、他店にはない品揃えだ。思わず料理とのペアリングも進んでしまう。

店名の『Rabbit House』は文字通り「ウサギ小屋」という意味で、日本人の住居が狭いことを自嘲気味に表現するときに使われる言葉だ。店内は、カウンター9席のみで、基本的に一人で料理から接客まで対応する。前菜、メイン、デザートやカクテルに至るまで、すべて自ら考案したものだ。原料は産地にこだわらず、美味しいと思う原料を厳選、特に肉はファインダイニングと同品質のものを使っている。メニュー数は絞り込んでいるものの、限られたスペースの厨房で、たった一人で、一切の手抜きなしで丁寧に作り込む。さらにヴィーガンやグルテンフリーにも対応している。


実は、かつてはカウンター9席に加え、テーブル6席もあったが、カウンター中心の運営にしたのはごく最近のことだ。今後は「Chef’s Tasting Table」のコンセプトも取り入れ、客と対話しながら、料理や酒を味わってもらいたいと考えている。今後の展開がますます楽しみな店だ。

Rabbit House
76 Forsyth Street
New York, NY 10002
Tel: 212-343-4200

Tue - Thu & Sun 5:00 - 11:00 pm
Fri & Sat 5:00 pm - 0:00 am

Sat & Sun 12 - 4:00 pm

Mon: Closed
#alljapannews #rabbithouse #newyork #japanese #cuisine #sake


Rice balls made with mystical rice

Rice balls made with mystical ... Rice balls made with mystical ... Rice balls made with mystical ... Rice balls made with mystical ... Rice balls made with mystical ...
By Keiko Fukuda

Melrose is a street of Los Angeles, where trendy LA people gather, and so do tourists from all over the world to shop. “Kawaba Rice Ball”, a Japanese delicatessen mainly featuring rice balls, is located across from the popular café, “Blue Jam” on this popular street.

The name Kawaba derives from the Kawaba Village of the Toné district of Gunma prefecture. This place opened 2 years ago with a hope of spreading delicious rice balls in the United States that are made with the mystical Koshi-hikari grade rice cultivated in the Kawaba Village called “Yuki-Hotaka” by importing it from Japan. I understood this prospect better when I found out that their operation base is at the Kawaba Resort, a large-scale ski resort in Kawaba Village.

The store manager, Mika, has been in the restaurant industry for 25 years. She came to the United States after building her career as a French chef in various notable hotels and restaurants in Japan, and worked both as a chef and a manager at Japanese, French, and organic cafés in the Los Angeles area. She took a break from her career for a while due to a traffic accident she had until she heard about Kawaba Rice Ball’s newly wanted manager position, and was hired in October of 2016. She says that she is currently recreating the menu little by little.

“I would like to use more organic ingredients for this place because I am from the organic café culture. I try to create a menu that is healthy and delicious. For example, the noodles used for our special Yakisoba dish are Konnyaku, which is completely gluten-free.

Their signature lunch combination-A comes with 2 rice balls. The rice is “Yuki-Hotaka”, the nori is custom-made, the side edamame and salad are organic, the karaage chicken is cage-free, and the miso soup is made from true shiitake mushroom dashi with organic miso. I started with the rice balls, which I could taste a genuine hand-made quality. They made me feel safe and nostalgic. The umeboshi was mildly sour. The quality is definitely satisfying to rice ball connoisseur Japanese, but I was surprised to find out that 70% of their customers are non-Asian Americans. A wide variety of Japanese foods starting with sushi, tempura, and sukiyaki followed by yakitori and ramen have been sweeping through America, and now rice balls, which is like the soul food to Japanese people, are enjoyed by Americans.

The aforementioned lunch combo-A with ample volume is $15. There are 16 kinds of a-la-carte rice balls. If you order 2 rice balls with a side and a drink for lunch, it would cost you around 12 or 13 dollars. The drinks such as lemonade also hand-made with real fruits.

I asked Mika-san about the prospects for the next few years. She said, “I would like this place to become known as a friendly and well-liked restaurant. Many of our regular customers are local, but I would also like tourists from Japan who visit Melrose street to taste rice balls here so they can take a break and feel relieved from eating American food all the time. I have ordered a larger Noren hanging sign so people can notice us more easily.”

Next, Mr. Nobutaka Moriguchi of Kawaba Resort USA, the CEO of this restaurant said, “Our mission is to spread “Yuki-Hotaka”, the best quality brand rice made with Kawaba’s melted snow. We are planning to open the second one possibly in San Francisco if in California, or maybe in Chicago, or in New York. Also as nearby candidates, there are Pasadena, Santa Monica, and Manhattan Beach.

The production of “Yuki-Hotaka” rice is limited, so the number of additional restaurants should be limited to only 3 or 4.

Because of the inability for a large future development, you can probably say that such rice balls made of mystical rice could become even more precious in value.











Kawaba Rice Ball
7368 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90046
7 Days Open
#alljapannews #riceball #kawaba #melrose


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