New challenge of Long-lasting restaurant, "Sushi Ran", borderless cuisine between Californian and Japanese makes a debut in SF!

New challenge of Long-lasting ... New challenge of Long-lasting ... New challenge of Long-lasting ... New challenge of Long-lasting ... New challenge of Long-lasting ... New challenge of Long-lasting ... New challenge of Long-lasting ...
By Eri Shimizu / Editing Elli Sekine

Mr. Yoshimori Tomé, the owner of a long-lasting sushi restaurant called “Sushi Ran”, who established the base of the high-end Japanese cuisine in Sausalito, began a new challenge this time in the Castro district where unique concept bars and restaurants are gathered. “Nomica” which opened last fall is completely different from any other Japanese restaurants, and is a borderless cuisine restaurant. Nomica” was named using the names of the local area (Noe Mission Castro), and intentionally or coincidently sounds like a Japanese word “Nomiya” which means a drinking place. Various types of Japanese liquor (awamori, sake, etc.)-based cocktails are served at the wide and deep bar counter, and at the tables, the unique dishes created by Hiroo Nagahara, the new and powerful executive chef, entertain taste buds of local foodies every night.

“Sushi Ran” has been running for more than 30 years in Sausalito, and highly claimed by various media such as San Francisco Chronicle and Wall Street Journal. Other top-class restaurants such as “Kusakabe” and “Ju-Ni” were opened later one by one by the chefs who worked for Sushi Ran, and people talk a lot about them because some even gained Michelin stars.

Mr. Tomé intentionally chose neither sushi nor Japanese cuisine as the concept for the second restaurant. It is because he wanted to convey the goodness of top-notch Japanese ingredients by changing the typical images for Japanese food which are still sushi and ramen. In front of the restaurant, a smooth natural stone sits like a symbol, and beautiful seasonal flowers arranged by the owner himself add more Japanese hospitality to the California like space with a lot of warm green trees. As you enter the space, on your immediate right you see a bar from where awamori and sake containers attract your attention, and a dining space on your left.

Although both of his parents are Japanese, Mr. Nagahara has been spending a half of every year in the United States ever since he was a child. He decided to become a cook while he was working part-time for a sushi restaurant when he was still going to school. He was involved in the launch of a Las Vegas restaurant under a celebrity chef called Charlie Trotter, and then brushed up his skills by working for several Michelin-star awarded restaurants including “Ishikawa” in Tokyo. He also has extensive experiences including working as restaurant consultant and running a food truck business. His dishes are creative using rich and delicious local ingredients, and enhanced by traditional Japanese condiments and chef’s experiences. “Shigoku Oysters” ($13) is a combination of fluffy high-quality oysters and kanzuri seaweed granité. Creamy oysters are enriched by deep umami sauce and fragrant granité. “Agedashi Tofu” ($17) which is house-made tofu made with soy beans from Japan, and wrapped with yuba has a good solid texture. “Seared Seabass” ($28) is perfectly seared, and leaves a strong impression with ikasumi, hijiki, and black shichimi sauce. Japanese ingredients are used brilliantly in the western techniques which accentuate texture and bring out spices and fragrance. Their signature dish since the opening is “Whole Chicken in Brioche” ($100), which is a whole chicken wrapped in a brioche, and baked. After marinating for 24 hours in shio koji, the chicken is cooked with low heat for 14 hours wrapped in miso butter. It is a unique dish which takes many steps and time to prepare. Another popular dish which customers order often is “Chicken & Waffle” ($24), in which southern fried chickens and waffles are interpreted in Nomica way.

At the bar, a cocktail specialist called a mixsologist makes creative drinks for you. There, you can enjoy Japanese style cocktails such as “Sutro’s Onsen” (martini arranged with hinoki-flavored gin, dry vermouth, olive oil), and “The Floating World” ($12) (awamori-based cocktail with chrysanthemum fragrance), as well as western style cocktails such as “Papa Nambu” ($12) (awamori-based arranged drinks with lemon and sage). There always carry more than 40 different brands of sake, and they are labeled with sweet, fragrant, vibrant, light, expressive, fresh, etc. to make it easy to understand for customers who are not familiar with sake.

For desserts, I want to recommend “Fuji Apple” ($12), which is shiso-flavored ice cream combined with fresh apple sorbet and apple chips, and “Coconut Parfait” ($12). I would like you to try this fresh coconut sorbet under light and fluffy café lime flavored foamy stuff.

The new challenge of the owner who has been leading San Francisco and Bay Area’s sushi scene for a long time has just begun. I cannot take my eyes off of the future of Nomica.

老舗「Sushi Ran」の新たな挑戦、カリフォルニアと和のボーダレス料理がSFに登場!



シェフ、長原氏は、両親ともに日本人ながら、子供の頃から一年の半分はアメリカで過ごしてきた。学生時代にアルバイトをしていた寿司店で料理人になることを決意する。セレブリティシェフ、チャーリー・トロッターの元でラスベガス店の立ち上げに関わり、その後は東京の「石かわ」を初め、数々のミシュラン星レストランで腕を磨いてきた。レストランコンサルやフードトラックビジネスにも関わるなど、ビジネスでの経験値も高い。メニューの特徴は、長原氏による地元の豊かな食材のおいしさを日本伝統の調味料とシェフの経験によって高めた創作料理。ふっくらとした至極オイスターにかんずりと海藻のグラニテを合わせた「Shigoku Oysters」($13)は、牡蠣のクリーミーさを深い旨みのソースと香りの良いグラニテが引き立てる。日本から取り寄せた大豆を使った自家製豆腐を湯葉で包んだ「Agedashi tofu」($17)は、豆腐にもしっかり食べ応えがある。うろこ付きのまま香ばしくソテーしたスズキ「seard seabass」($28)は絶妙な火の通し加減で、イカスミやひじき、黒七味のソースが印象的。和食材を使いながらも食感のアクセントのつけ方やスパイスと香りを引き立てる西洋テクニックが光る。シグニチャーは、開店当初からの名物料理は丸鶏をブリオブリオッシュで包んで焼き上げた「whole chicken in brioch」($100)。鶏を塩麹で24時間マリネしたのち、14時間低温で調理、味噌バターを詰めて包み焼きにするという、独創的かつ手間のかかる一品だ。また多くの客が注文するのは南部のフライドチキンとワッフルをNomica風に解釈した「chickne & waffle」($24)も人気。

一方、バーでではミクソロジストと呼ばれるカクテルのスペシャリストが独創的なドリンクを提供する。マティーニをアレンジした「sutro’s onsen」(ヒノキが香るジンやドライベルムース、オリーブオイルのカクテル)や「the floating world」($12)(菊の香りを移した泡盛ベースのカクテル)など、和の香りのカクテルから、泡盛をベースにレモンやセージなどを組み合わせた「papa nambu」($12)など洋のフレーバーのカクテルなどが楽しめる。常時40種類近く揃える日本酒は、sweet, fragrant, vibrant や、light, expressive, fresh など説明付きのリストで、日本酒に馴染みのない客にもわかりやすい。

デザートは紫蘇の香りのアイスクリームに爽やかなりんごのソルベやりんごのチップを合わせた「fuji apple」($12)と「coconut parfet」($12)がおすすめ。軽やかで爽やか、ふわっとしたカフェライム風味の泡の下にココナッツソルベは是非試していただきたい一品。


2223 Market Street, San Francisco, CA
Monday - Saturday 5:30 - 11pm
Happy Hour in the lounge 5:30pm - 7pm (rotating drink specials)
#alljapannews #sushi #oysters #yuba #nomica #sanfrancisco


Evaluation of the Japanese sake

By Yuji Matsumoto

It’s simple to state that sake is a beverage of taste, selected and consumed according to individual preferences.

However, “delicious” share the following common characteristics:
• Sweetness
• Acidity
• Saltiness
• Bitterness
• Umami flavors

The balance between these common elements is important to produce this “delicious” flavor. What’s referred to as one’s “preference” is in addition to this balance being achieved first, with some preferring the “sweet flavor” slightly more enhanced than the other four flavors to deem the sake delicious. The phrase “secret ingredient” commonly used in cooking refers mostly to the introduction of a lacking taste (like acidity, umami flavor, etc.) to enhance the “delicious flavor.” (In Japanese sake, the “secret ingredient” refers to the blending of sake at times with another sake prepared in a different tank to adjust the flavor).

This same concept applies to Japanese sake, where the even balance of these flavors (hardly any saltiness contained) is examined to evaluate sake. Sweetness and acidity is easy to recognize since these flavors ‘attack’ the palate immediately upon consumption. However, umami flavors are embedded deep in the sake, usually detected in the aftertaste and when the sake passes the tongue. Also, depending on the temperature of the sake and the food that is consumed with the sake, the umami flavors sometimes become quite notable. Thus, caution must be exercised to evaluate various umami flavors, for some have a long-lasting aftertaste while others dissipate quickly.

For those who like enhanced dry flavor in a well-balanced sake will likely prefer an acidic taste immediately upon consumption with a short-lived aftertaste, while those who like sweet flavors will likely prefer sake with a fruity aroma that is rich and long in aftertaste.

To select Japanese sake that is truly to your liking (or to the customer’s liking if you’re a sake sommelier), please take the time to experiment by changing the sake temperature and the food accompanying the sake.








#alljapannews #sake #sommelier #evaluation


Sake Nation Kosher Certification Part I

By Kosuke Kuji

On April 17th 2013, by a certification body called Chabad of Japan, Nanbu Bijin received a certification of “Kosher” to certify that their products are safe and trustworthy based on the dietary food standards of Judaism. Probably many of the Japanese that read this column may not be familiar with the certification of “Kosher”, so I would like to break up my explanation into a few different installments and talk about what we did to receive the certification, why it was necessary to get the kosher certification, and what can be expected in the future. First, I would like to explain what “Kosher” is. Kosher was the world’s first commandment regarding food given by God to the Jewish race and had an original meaning to point out that it means “proper” or “it can be accepted”. In the Bible, Adam and Eve were ordered that they cannot eat the fruit from a tree.

Since then the Jewish have shown a strict self-discipline regarding foods and main rules regarding Kosher are noted in Mose’s 5th commandment. The Jewish based their dietary habits on that commandment and as a result have led healthy lives.

In recent years, Kosher is a byword for “Purity”, “Trustworthy”, “Safe”, “Fine quality”, is acceptable with vegetarians and others besides the Jewish, and especially in the U.S. many people accept Kosher products as “foods that are healthy and trustworthy”. If you look across the Globe, there are over 28 million people that only purchase Kosher certified products, and of that number only a small percentage are Jewish. It is clear that vegetarians or consumers having high consciousness of food select these Kosher products. As you can see, Kosher started being accepted around the globe in recent years, and in the next issue I would like to talk in detail what kind of dietary food standard it really is.

酒豪大陸「コーシャ認定 その1」

南部美人では2013年4月17日に、CHABAD OF JAPANという認定機関により、ユダヤ教の食餌規定にのっとり、安全、安心な食材として認定される「コーシャ(kosher)」の認定を受けました。






#alljapannews #sake #kosher


Taste the marvelously arranged mixture “cagen” of tradition and modernism, which no other place can offer

Taste the marve... Taste the marve... Taste the marve... Taste the marve... Taste the marve...
By Aya Ota

There is a restaurant in a corner of the East Village, which is so quietly stands with no sign, and you might pass without noticing. Once you step in, a neatly set-up, and slightly intense, yet comfortable space spreads in front of you, and you forget the city noise outside. From the exterior of the restaurant, you can hardly predict the upcoming surprises and impressions.

Here at “Cagen” restaurant, kappo style Japanese cuisine prepared with various seasonal ingredients, and omakase-style sushi are offered. This is a kind of restaurant where gourmet people who have already been to all the famous restaurants in New York would come by word of mouth.

“We strive for doing thing no one else does”, says Toshio Tomita, the head chef of the restaurant. Mr. Tomita started his career in kaiseki cooking at the age of 15.

He came to US in 1984, worked at various Japanese restaurants, and demonstrated his excellent skills for 16 years at "Nobu", the pioneer, and the most well-known among all New York Japanese restaurants. In 2013, the time was ripe for him to become independent, and he opened this restaurant.

Chef Tomita’s cooking is traditional and genuine, and with creativity and playfulness are added, it creates a unique world. It is especially remarkable in the way to present variety of seafood and the way to serve them. White and blueback fishes which are rare in the US such as menuke, aburabouzu, higesoridai, okaaji, and takabe are procured through a unique buying route. These rare fishes with unique textures and flavors are first treated delicately in various ways such as vinegar-marinating, parboiling, skin-scorching, etc., and then served with a combination of jalapeno and nikiri soy sauce, or raw wasabi and chimichurri sauce, etc. It is surprising that raw oysters are served with puree of little peach, which gives refreshing and unconventional flavor. Only kappo omakase courses were served at the beginning, but by strong requests from the customers who wanted to taste those rare fishes as sushi, he started omakase sushi.

“Ayu-no-sugatayaki”, one of the hot-served dishes, is a result of repeated trial and error. In order to make everything from head to bone deliciously edible, bones, head and body of ayu fish are separately grilled first, and then combined to build the original shape of the fish. Slight bitterness of ayu and cilantro sauce go perfectly together. The sushi dish which appears at the end of the kappo course is unprecedentedly innovative. It is interesting that you wrap nigari sushi with nori to eat. The highest-quality sushi rice from Uonuma, Niigata is cooked only by 1 to 2 cups at a time, and vinegar is mixed into the cooked rice in front of customers. The simple combination of rice, fish, and nori can be tasted fully with your 5 senses.

Soba is also very particularly prepared. Hokkaido buckwheat is imported, and ground with a stone grinder. Two of the three soba strands are served topped with yuzu and black shichimi pepper. You taste the plain strands first, and continue on with yuzu and shichimi to enjoy different flavors. After that, toasted buckwheat, wasabi, and chopped green onion pieces are added to the remaining soba dipping sauce to make a warm soup dish in front of each customer. The completed nice hot soup magically made out of the leftover sauce impresses customers. It is also a special enjoyment for the customers to adjust the taste to each own preference by themselves.

Mr. Tomita’s creation has something more than an expression of “unification of tradition and modernism”. Adding ingredients which are familiar to American customers such as jalapeno, chimichurri sauce, cheese, chocolate, and ham to the unfamiliar ingredients as accents may make American customers curious, and make the unknown ingredients more approachable. Mr. Tomoita thinks that dryness in wine and karakuchi in Japanese sake are different. In order to help customers to select sake drinks, he tries to explain each characteristic using the terms to express wine drinks. You don’t see the glass case filled with sushi ingredients which is usually placed between the chef and the customers across the counter. It requires more explanation and communication to achieve “doing thing no one else does”. Customers can talk with, and watch Chef Tomita work skillfully as they keep eating with excitement as though they were traveling in an unknown world. It is touching to see everything he does from cooking to treating of customers which demonstrates and gives a strong impression of his hope to have customers enjoy unprecedented delicious Japanese cuisine.

“Cagen” is from the Japanese word, cagen, meaning “Just Right”. It can be cagen of the combination of classic and contemporary cuisine, also of the balance of flavoring and decorating, and of distance from the customers, or of the timing to serve dishes. I hope that you go and experience these perfect cagen created by Mr. Tomita!









『Cagen』とは“加減”、つまり“Just Right”という意味。それはクラシックとコンテンポラリーな料理の加減でもあり、味付けや盛りつけのバランスでもあり、客との距離感や料理を出すタイミングなどのもてなしでもあるのだろう。冨田氏が創り出す、パーフェクトな“加減”をぜひ体験してみてほしい。

414 E 9th Street
New York, NY 10009
Tuesday through Sunday
5:30pm- 11:00pm
#alljapannews #cagen #soba #Japanese #kaiseki #NY


Gluten-free bakery filled with yearning for hometown

Gluten-free bakery filled with ... Gluten-free bakery filled with ... Gluten-free bakery filled with ... Gluten-free bakery filled with ... Gluten-free bakery filled with ... Gluten-free bakery filled with ...
By Keiko Fukuda

The Great East Japan earthquake which occurred in March of 2011 brought a huge damage to the area between North Kanto to Tohoku. The whole areas are still only partially recovered. The hometown of Hiro Saito, the owner of “Kirari West”, a bakery in Redondo Beach in the suburbs of Los Angeles, is Fukushima which is one of the most devastatingly damaged regions. His family had a Japanese garment shop in Fukushima originally, and Hiro’s father later expanded the family business to multiple businesses demonstrating excellent abilities. They had a construction company and a sweet shop to sell baumkuchen made with Fukushima rice flour.

After graduating from high school in Fukushima, Mr. Saito went to the State of Delaware in the East Coast of US in 1996 to study English. He did not go back to Japan after that, and instead, jumped into the restaurant industry in New York. Then later in Los Angeles, he was hired to manage 50 staff members of Hugo’s Restaurant in Studio City. The big earthquake broke out when he was going into the eighth year with Hugo’s.

“I was so worried because I was out of touch with my family for days. Naturally, I was imagining the worst scenario.” Fortunately, his family was safe, but the newly-opened baumkuchen laboratory, “Kirari”, faced the big disaster when the business just started to taste the beginning of success.

Then, Mr. Saito thought about opening a store where he could sell the products made with rice flour on the West Coast. The incident of the natural disaster triggered Mr. Saito who had been living in the US for nearly 20 years by then to think back of his hometown.

“I first thought about opening a store specialized in selling the type of baumkuchen which were sold in Fukushima; however, it would have cost as much as 120 thousand dollars to set up the same type of baking equipment in accordance with the American standard, which would be way over my budget.”

A few corrections in the plan were obviously needed, so he looked for a location for the store after deciding on the base of the concept as gluten-free bread and cakes, yet made with American rice flour. Mr. Saito who was residing in Santa Monica, then, was not familiar with the South Bay area which is in the south of Los Angeles International Airport, where the current store is located. First, he looked for other cities such as Pasadena, Melrose, Studio City, and Hollywood.

“The owners of the properties were reluctant about leasing. They thought my business was too risky because I was the first-time store owner. After a while, when I checked those places again, big franchise businesses such as Starbucks and Seven-Eleven had occupied there.”

After 10-month of researching for neighborhood resident statistics, he found that Redondo Beach residents were highly health-conscious, and their household incomes were as high as, or even more than 100,000 dollars a year. Selling of gluten-free products requires relatively a higher price setting, so high household income is one of the essential conditions. As the result, he succeeded to find an ideal location which is near the beach with ample parking spaces in a shopping mall facing the Pacific Coast Highway.

“Kirari West”, the West Coast version of Fukushima Kirari was thus born in a comfortable space with a stylish high ceiling. The menu has expanded during the past two years since the opening to have light meals such as panini sandwiches, galette, and salads by listening to the voices of the customers. The drink menu includes even Japanese tea in addition to usual variety of coffee drinks, etc.

“To tell the truth, for the first six months after the opening, there was no budget for advertising, and the business fell into a negative spiral. It was difficult to get out of deficit. I hung in with the principle I learned through the experience with Hugo’s, that is - the customers will surely come back as long as you keep offering solid products and services-, and finally, Yelp became the key to kindle popularity by word of mouth.”

After interviewing Mr. Saito, he offered me an Almond Brioche, which is one of their popular products. It was moist, sweet, and tender. Its tenderness made me think of Mr. Saito’s yearning for his hometown.


2011年3月の東日本大震災は北関東から東北にかけて甚大な被害をもたらした。今もまだ復興は途上にある。ロサンゼルス郊外の海辺の町、レドンドビーチのベイカリー、Kirari Westのオーナー、斎藤ヒロさんの実家も被災地、福島市にある。実家はもともと呉服屋だったが、父親が呉服屋以外にも建設会社を起こし、さらに福島の米から作られた米粉製のバウムクーヘンの店もオープン、多角経営に手腕を発揮していた。








福島にある樹楽里の西海岸版であるKirari Westは、おしゃれな高天井の居心地の良い空間に誕生した。店のメニューはオープンして2年の間に顧客の要望を取り入れつつ、パニーニのサンドイッチやガレット、サラダなどの軽食を増やしてきた。ドリンク類もコーヒー各種はもちろん日本茶も揃う。



707 N. Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach CA
Saturday& Sunday:8:00am-6:00pm
7days open
#alljapannews #Japanese #bakery #gultenfree #kirariwest


First time in Napa Valley! True izakaya run by Californian chef

First time in Napa Valley! Tru... First time in Napa Valley! Tru... First time in Napa Valley! Tru... First time in Napa Valley! Tru... First time in Napa Valley! Tru...
By Eri Shimizu / Editing: Elli Sekine

Although Napa Valley, known for its wine producing, is located in the Bay Area where many high-end and high-quality Japanese restaurants already exist, there was no Japanese restaurant in the valley. Finally, last year in 2016, Japanese restaurants such as “KENZO”, a high-end restaurant, started to open one after another. "Miminashi” is the first restaurant which opened there in May, and gained popularity quickly. The name, “Miminashi” was derived from a well-known Japanese folk tale, “Miminashi Hoichi”, which was chosen by the owner/chef Curtis Di Fede. He wished that the restaurant would last for a long time as a good restaurant just like the character Hoichi in the story who endured hardships throughout his life.

Mr. Curtis is from an American family from Napa, which has continued for four generations, which is rare in the US. He also grew up in Napa. After being trained in Michelin-star restaurants in Napa such as “Bouchon” and “Terra”, he became the chef of “Oenotori”, a southern-Italian style restaurant which was opened in 2010. Their casual menu using local ingredients gained a lot of repeat customers, and “Oenotori” grew to be a very popular restaurant loved by the local customers. However, in order to stay with his principle which is to stick to his original techniques, Mr. Curtis left “Oenotori”, and opened his own place for the first time. But, why a Japanese food restaurant? 

For 3 years after leaving “Oenotori”, he went all over the world to eat specialty foods of each country. His first encounter with yakitori was at an outside vendor in Shinjuku. He was shocked to know that so many different parts of chickens were used, and there were so many different textures and tastes. He also fell in love with the lively atmosphere of izakaya-style restaurants, and wanted to bring it back to Napa, which triggered the opening of this first restaurant. In order to break the stereotypical image of Japanese food which equals to sushi, “Miminashi” purposely does not serve sushi. The heavy white wood door with numerous protrusions designed based on the image of Mt. Fuji is impressive.

Once you step inside, you are surrounded by customers who are filling the place in a noisy and lively ambience. There is a bar counter with wine and sake bottes in the middle, which naturally draws you to liquors first. On your left, there is a yakitori counter and tables from where you can see the Binchotan charcoal burning, and on your right are more private booths.
The main menu items are Binchotan charcoal broiled yakitori, ramen, and a-la-carte dishes. The chickens are brought in uncut, so in addition to regular yakitori parts such as liver and gizzard, they can serve rare parts in the States such as tail, hearts, and gristle. They even serve grilled skewers with ingredients other than chicken such as pork short rib, Maitake mushrooms, etc. The variety is as wide as they are in Japanese yakitori specialty restaurants. They even serve chicken sashimi when French blue leg chickens are available. For the ramen dishes, they serve different flavors such as rich tonkotsu or light seafood base depending on the weather of the day. As their particularity, Hokkaido konbu seaweed is used for all the ramen soup base as a common ingredient. The toppings such as marinated eggs, house-made kimchee, poached chicken slices, etc. are also offered varied depending on the day.  

The ingredients are bought at the local markets weekly by the chef. He creates original a-la-carte menu items using local organic and seasonal ingredients that he buys. Examples of these are “Roasted Beets Salad” ($12) (made with popular Californian ingredients such as beets and blood oranges with nori and wasabi dressing), “Grilled Romanesco Cauliflower” ($8.50) (made with roasted cauliflower topped with yuzu, bonito shavings, and fried tempura batter crumbles), etc., which are a unification of local ingredients and Japanese flavors. The sashimi plate that changes daily is served with original condiments such as blood orange pepper, and fresh wasabi aired from Japan, which is an extra charged item.

The drink menu is selected with food paring in mind. The wide variety includes all kinds of sake brands from Hon-jozo to Junmai dai-ginjo, Japanese and local beers such as Asahi, COEDO, and Hitachino, and European wines.

Mr. Curtis is very particular about the soft-serve ice cream ($7). He encountered Hokkaido soft ice cream in Japan, and was so impressed. He wants to make it a popular American dessert that can surpass the boom of frozen yogurt. He is planning to open multiple soft ice cream specialty shops in the future. The restaurant in Napa is already so popular, and people including tourists wait in line to get in every day.

I asked him his prospects for the future. He said that he would like to keep introducing the charm of the collaboration of traditional Japanese tastes with Napa for now. I would like to see the success of this restaurant in becoming a long-lasting and well-loved izakaya which was finally born in Napa.



しかし昨年2016年、注目されるハイエンドの「KENZO」を始め、日本食レストランが相次いでオープンした。その先頭を切って去年5月にオープンした「Miminashi」がたちまち人気を集めている。日本人ならお馴染みの怪談「耳なし芳一」からとった店名にはオーナーシェフ、カーティス・ディ・フェーデ氏(Curtis Di Fede)の思い入れがある。同店が道中に「芳一」苦難があった時にも耐え、良き店として長く続くように、と。

カーティス氏はアメリカでは珍しい4世代続くナパ出身家系の4代目で ナパ育ち 。ナパバレーのミシュランスターレストラン、「Bouchon」や「Terra」で修行後、2010年にオープンした南イタリア料理店「Oenotori」のシェフとなる。ローカルの食材を使ったカジュアルな料理はリピーターを呼び、同店は地元客に愛される人気レストランに 成長した 。 しかし、シェフの独自の手法 を貫きたい思いから、同店を離任し、今回初めて独自店舗を構えた。でもなぜ日本食だったのか? 

「Oenotori」を離職後3年間、カーティス氏は世界各地の食を食べ歩いた。カーティス氏が初めて焼き鳥と出会ったのは新宿の屋台。鶏にはこれほど沢山の部位があり、食感や味わいが違うのかと衝撃を受けたという。そして活気溢れる居酒屋の雰囲気をぜひ地元ナパにも再現したいと思いが今回のオープンにつながった。カーティス氏はアメリカ人のステレオタイプである寿司 というイメージを一新する如く、あえてMiminashiでは寿司を提供していない。富士山をイメージしたという無数の突起のついた重厚な白木のドアが印象的な店構え。扉を開け一歩中に入ると、満席の客の喧騒と熱気に包まれる。ワインや日本酒のボトルの並ぶバーが中央にあり、まずアルコールに目に入る。左手には備長炭の炎を見ながら食できる焼き鳥カウンターとテーブル席、右手に個室感覚のブース席がある。

メニューの中心は、備長炭で焼き上げる焼き鳥とラーメン、そして一品料理だ。ここ では、丸鶏を仕入れ、店内で捌くため、レバーや砂肝はもちろん、アメリカでは珍しいボンジリやハツモト、ヒザナンコツなどの部位も使用。さらに豚カルビや舞茸など鶏以外の串焼きもまるで日本の焼き鳥屋のように種類が豊富。さらにフランス原産の鶏ブルーレッグチキンが入荷した時には鳥刺しもある。一方、ラーメンのスープは濃厚な豚骨やあっさり魚介ベースなど、その日の天候によって変える。しかし、どのスープも共通してベースには北海道産の真昆布を使うのがこだわりだ。具材も味付け玉子や自家製のキムチ、ポーチドチキンなど日替わりである。

食材はカーティス氏が毎週マーケットに足を運び、 地元オーガニック食材を使った季節感がある一品料理メニューを創作する。野菜料理はRoasted Beet Salad($12)(ビーツやブラッドオレンジなどカリフォルニアで人気の組み合わせに海苔やわさびドレッシング)やGrilled Romanesco Cauliflower($8.5)(カリフラワーのローストに柚子や鰹節、天かすのトッピング)など、ローカル食材と日本のフレイバーが融合した料理が並ぶ。




カーティス氏に今後の展望を聞くと、まずは現在の店を地元の人から支持が得られるように日本伝統の味とナパのコラボの魅力を伝えていきたい とのこと。ようやくナパに誕生したIzakayaが多くの人に長く愛される 店になるのを期待したい。

821 Coombs St, Napa, CA 94559
(707) 254-9464

Mon.-Fri./11:30AM–2:30PM, 5:30–10:00PM (Fri. until 11:00PM)
#alljapannews #SF #Japanese #miminashi #NepaValley #izakaya


How to select and recommend Japanese sake

By Yuji Matsumoto

The number of Japanese sake brands available in the U.S. is increasing annually with approximately 450 brands offered domestically. Compared to the approximately 1,500 sake breweries in Japan with approximately 20,000 brands available nationwide, only two percent is being distributed in the U.S. How to select and recommend Japanese sake from these available brands is the challenge for restaurants in the near future.

How to select sake brands according customer segment and prices
Although Japanese sake is popular, it’s not effective to offer popular sake brands indiscriminately. Doing so could invite potential problems with quality management, leading to possible complaints by customers, thus caution is advised.

Review average customer spending
First, let’s review how to select Japanese sake brands and price setting according to the restaurant’s average customer spending. If customer spending is approximately $25, the average for a full dining restaurant, the food ratio is approximately 80% with drinks (including non-alcoholic) is approximately 20%. (The higher the customer spending, the higher the drink ratio, while decrease in customer speeding tends to decrease drink ratio also) If customer spending is high in a restaurant, it’s possible to offer high-priced Japanese sake by the bottle, while restaurants with low customer spending best consider selling high quality Japanese sake by the glass to lowering prices.

Also, offering a wide range of sake brands slows turnover rate, leading to quality management problems. Therefore, limiting the number of sake brands sold by the glass and thorough staff training is necessary. Sake samplers with dishes sold in sets are recommended to encourage customers to sample sake casually.

Appropriate markup of Japanese sake depends on the restaurant, with many setting the price from 2 to 2.5 times the purchase price. However, for high quality Japanese sake priced at over $50 for 720 ml bottles, pricing at 1.5~ 2 times the purchase price, topped at 2.5 times the purchase price is appropriate.

When selling sake by the glass, costs vary drastically by offering from 720 ml or 1.8L bottles. No matter how high quality a sake brand is, any glass of sake priced over $25 for 5 oz. is difficult to approach for many customers. For restaurants where customer spending is approximately $25, prices for major sake brands set between $5 ~ $7 by the glass makes it easier for customers to sample.

Review customer segment
Brand selection also varies according to customer segments. For restaurants with many young customers not familiar with Japanese sake, sweet sake like nigori (unfiltered) sake is predominantly popular. Therefore, considering nigori-based cocktails for SAKE cocktail nights or happy hours is recommended.







#alljapannews #sake #Japanese #sommelier


Ordinance to kampai (toast) with Japanese sake

By Kosuke Kuji

During hot summer months, we often hear the phrase, “let’s start off with a kampai (toast) with beer!” However, it’s been a long-term effort by our sake industry to request kampai be practiced with Japanese sake, known as “the movement to promote kampai with Japanese sake.” This is because Japanese sake is the “kokushu,” or national liquor, long used since ancient times during Shinto rituals and celebrations, a practice passed down for generations.

However, the changing times prevailed, and sake was replaced by beer produced in overwhelming volumes. Thus, the practice of using Japanese sake to kampai has decreased over time. However, in recent years, the “Ordinance to kampai with Japanese sake” is starting to be enforced in each municipality throughout Japan! The “Ordinance to kampai with Japanese sake” was first enacted in Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture in 2013, when the Kyoto City Council passed the “Ordinance to kampai with Japanese sake” for implementation. This effort was initiated by the Kyoto Sake Makers Association as the first ordinance in Japan to encourage the use of Japanese sake, the “national liquor” with much history and traditions, during kampai, to further evolve the history and traditional culture of Kyoto, a city also with a long history and many traditions. This ordinance does not punish violations as it is more an effort to promote the use of sake during kampai. However, restaurants within Kyoto have started to communicate this ordinance to customers, urging customers to kampai with Japanese sake, increasing the number of people practicing kampai with Japanese sake, since an overwhelming number of customers started to explain during various industry parties that the ordinance stipulates kampai be done with Japanese sake in practice. Also, since the “Ordinance to kampai with Japanese sake” was gradually enacted in each city, town, and village, and following Kyoto, the Saga Prefecture Council became the first Prefecture to pass the “Ordinance to kampai with Japanese sake.” Currently, over ten ordinances stipulating the use of Japanese sake or an alcoholic beverage stipulated as the local city or prefecture specialty to kampai have been passed and enacted. In Iwate Prefecture, Morioka City passed an ordinance to practice kampai with regional sake. We pray this wonderful trend will continue throughout prefectures, cities, towns, and villages nationwide so “kampai with Japanese sake” will be practiced throughout Japan!











#alljapannews #Japanese #sake #kampai #Kyoto


Pioneer of new boom of Japanese food next to sushi and ramen

©Joji Uematsu ©Joji Uematsu ©Joji Uematsu ©Joji Uematsu ©Joji Uematsu ©Joji Uematsu ©Joji Uematsu ©Joji Uematsu Pioneer of new boom of Japan... Pioneer of new boom of Japan...
By Aya Ota

“TsuruTonTan” is an udon specialty restaurant chain which runs a total of 12 restaurants in Tokyo and Osaka. The menu contains over 30 different items including signature Kansai-style udon in bonito based dashi, original cream or curry flavored udon, and seasonal limited edition udon dishes. Each item is served boldly on their large symbolic plate. Each restaurant has its unique concept that fits the region, and offers high-priced items with added values, etc., which makes this chain famous for its unconventional approach in the udon industry. Because of their unique way, the Japanese consumers sometimes say, “We are going to eat “TsuruTonTan”, instead of saying “We are going to eat udon”.
Such “TsuruTonTan”’s first overseas restaurant opened in the summer of 2016 in the Union Square district of New York. They were getting a lot of attention even before the opening, and became a popular place immediately, and you always see people waiting in line.

“Our mission is to expand Japanese food culture to the world. I thought the next thing to sushi and ramen must be udon. I am sure that the concept for TsuruTonTan will be well-accepted worldwide,” says Joji Uematsu, the Vice President of “Dining Innovation USA” who is in charge of the development of the chain in North America. Mr. Uematsu already has experience in succeeding to cultivate a business in North America with “Gyukaku”, and used such experience and know-how plentifully for “TsuruTonTan”’s first overseas restaurant. He created a place where the kind of interior and services that match New Yorkers and true traditional Japanese tastes marvelously unite.

Once inside, you feel as if you were in an art gallery of modern Japanese paintings. You will be drawn to the interior which is both classy and gorgeous. The wide variety of spaces including the waiting bar filled with sake and shochu bottles, counter seats, private looking tables, etc., accommodate various situations.
The udon noodles and dashi are the exact reproduction of the Japanese recipe. The specifically blended flour is imported from Japan, and noodle-making specialists make about 700 servings per day. The ingredients are flour, salt, and water only, and it takes delicate techniques to blend it right depending on the climate and humidity. Bonito and konbu used generously for the dashi are the highest quality from Japan. The menu has a large variety from the traditional bonito-based dashi udon to original udon. The sophisticated presentation on large plates, and the choice between thin and thick noodles are the same as in Japan. The menu items unique to New York are “Cold Uni Udon” ($24), “Truffle Creme with Crab and Mushroom ($22), etc. It is March now, and exactly 6 months since the opening, the menu has just been renewed, reflected by the customers’ reactions. Sushi, sashimi, and the kaiseki-style skillful menu were enhanced. In the beginning, more fusion style cuisine was served to try to suit American tastes, but New Yorkers’ taste palettes are more sophisticated than expected, and they want more true traditional Japanese cuisine. It is interesting that the Asians who account for about 60% of the customers like original or cold noodles with cream or curry, etc. whereas the remaining 40% of non-Asian customers like more traditional bonito-based dashi udon.
The average price for one udon dish is $20, which is surprisingly high to Japanese who know the average price of udon dishes in Japan. Even at the TsuruTonTan in Japan, the average price is only about 1,000 yen. In New York, the high price-setting is accepted because of the good service and ambience as added values in addition to the true taste. The Americans must be enjoying their udon in the same way they enjoy good pasta dishes at Italian restaurants.

“My goal is to open 10 restaurants in North America in the next 5 years. I want to open restaurants speedily in big key cities to be the pioneer,” says Mr. Uematsu. The second restaurant has already been planned to open in 2017 in the Times Square area. This restaurant is supposed to be large with more than 200 seats. I bet this location will also become very popular immediately, and people will form a long line to get in.







TsuruTonTan Udon Noodle Brasserie
21 East 16th Street
New York, NY 10003
Tel: 212-989-1000
#alljapannews #NY #udon #tsurutontan #Japanese #noodle


The glorious third highest ranked ramen restaurant in LA

The glorious third highest ran... The glorious third highest ran... The glorious third highest ran... The glorious third highest ran... The glorious third highest ran... The glorious third highest ran...
By Keiko Fukuda

The ranking contest, “Los Angeles ramen top-10” in the LA Weekly magazine in 2013 awarded Umenoya in Torrance as No. 3. The article read, “You don’t hear the typical loud vibrant greeting as many ramen restaurants here, but you can taste all their efforts in making a bowl of ramen”.

It has been 4 years since the article was published. After gaining new customers triggered by the LA Weekly ranking, Umenoya has been running very successfully, mainly supported by the local customers. I asked Mayumi Kohagura, the manager, what they do specifically to increase repeating customers.

“The space is limited, so in order to increase rotations, we serve as quickly as possible. We cannot do much about shortening the time of customers who are waiting to be seated, but we try to serve hot dishes as quickly as possible after receiving orders by training our staff for it. Another key point is to try to maintain the same taste. Of course, we do make slight changes to improve tastes, however, we strive for serving consistent tasting ramen as much as possible.”
In order to maintain the consistent service and taste, Mayumi is present in the restaurant every day. She says, “Not only do we try to keep the same taste, I also watch out for the consistency in the presentation so it matches the explanations in the menu. My motto is to serve a bowl that satisfies each customer at every visit.”
Surprisingly, the restaurant does not close until 3 after midnight. Not only are they accommodating people who want to eat ramen that late in the day, which makes this restaurant very important for them, but there are also other firm reasons or needs to run until that late according to Mayumi. Many regular customers work in different shifts for a huge hospital called Torrance Memorial which is only a few blocks away. They want to come to the restaurant after the graveyard shift.

The restaurant is not open for lunch except for weekends due to shortage of staff. There are 8 in the kitchen, and 6 in the front serving, however not everyone is working exclusively for Umenoya. Mayumi continues, “The biggest problem is how to keep the number of staff. This restaurant originally opened as a fast-food restaurant, and we cannot apply for a liquor license. We had a plan to open a second restaurant in Long Beach where alcohol beverages can be served, but we had to give up due to a trouble with the lease.

How about the menu? It has indeed a wide variety of items! On top of regular flavors such as Tonkotsu, Miso, Shoyu, Shio, and Spicy Miso, there is a kind called Jiro Ramen, which is made specifically to satisfy lighter taste fans. In the summer period, they add cold ramen to the menu. I myself prefer tonkotsu flavor, but it is an excellent point that there are many choices. For instance, if I bring my son who prefers miso flavor, or my daughter who prefers shoyu, the restaurant can accommodate all of us. All our favorites are listed on the menu. Mayumi says that they receive an equal number of orders of different flavors.

Yasunori Aoki, the sub-manager, who is in charge of the development of the menu, told me about his aspiration for the future. “As for the taste, I would like to keep introducing something new to make the restaurant stand out. For example, I want to discover something that exists in Japan, but not in Los Angeles, and then arrange it to suit the local area here, and make it a new popular menu item. I would like to keep making studious efforts in developing the menu.”


2013年のLA Weeklyの「ロサンゼルスのラーメン・トップ10」のランキングで、堂々3位に選出されたのが、トーランスのUmenoyaだ。その記事には「ラーメン屋によくある威勢のいい掛け声をこの店で聞くことはできないが、すべての労力を1杯のラーメンに注ぎ込んでいるにちがいない」とある。

あれから4年。LA Weeklyのランキングを契機に新たな顧客を獲得した後、今もローカル客を中心に盛業を続けている。マネージャーの古波蔵(こはぐら)眞由美さんに、リピーターを増やす工夫について聞いた。




ただし、人手不足が理由で、週末を除き、ランチは営業していない。キッチンには8人、サーバーは6人いるが、全員がUmenoya専業というわけではない。「人材の確保が一番の悩みの種です。また、この店はもともとファストフード店だった設計上、アルコールのライセンスを申請できません。そこで近郊のロングビーチにアルコールも提供できる2号店を出す計画が進んでいたのですが、 リース契約上のトラブルにより断念しました」



24222 Crenshaw Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90505
Saturday: 12:00pm-3:00am
Sunday: 12:00pm-11:00pm
Closed on Tuesday
#alljapannews #LA #Torrance #ramen #restaurant #umenoya


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