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



Delage Delage Delage Delage Delage Delage
Kappo Omakase-style California fusion restaurant

By Elli Sekine 

In the past few years, the food culture of the Auckland area has been changing dramatically. Along with the rising popularity of the farmer’s market in Jack London Square, the awareness of local production for local consumption is growing, and the chefs from “Chez Panisse” in the neighbor town, Berkeley, where California cuisine was born, started to open restaurants in Auckland one after another. People in the area now talk about gourmet foods all the time, and such a food-business-friendly environment has made young food business entrepreneurs very diverse in their businesses from casual and unique eateries, to food trucks and catering. You can catch a glimpse of the trend in the food culture everywhere in town. The market/food court, “SWAN” was renewed 4 years ago, and became a casual dining food court where some well-known chefs participated in serving their food there, which gathered much attention. It has become one of Auckland’s hot spots nowadays. “Delage” in SWAN is the second restaurant of “AS B-Dama” which has been there since the opening. Although it still has tenant status in the food court, “Delage” opened as an individual restaurant in April of 2016, and is gaining popularity as a casual omakase style restaurant.

The concept by the owner/chef Tsutomu Ono, “Quality & Casual”, has finely seized the local fans. After gaining the experience of working as a chef in the South Bay area for a long time in a Japanese restaurant, Mr. Ono launched a small place for bento and a-la-carte dishes in Auckland called “Geta”.

Later, he achieved success with a bento dine-in place called “B-Dama”, which led to becoming a tenant in “SWAN”, and changed the name to “AS B-Dama”.

Supported by passionate local fans, “Delage” was opened within the same property as an individual restaurant this time. It is the first omakase-style Japanese restaurant run by Japanese in Auckland. The opening of this restaurant which aims for “high-end with the casual ambience of Auckland” attracted a lot of attention with the attendance of Masaki Sasaki who has led two restaurants to their Michelin-star ranks. Moreover, the reasonable pricing at $65 for an upscale 8-course meal cannot be seen anywhere else.

The wood-based interior feels warm and relaxed, and the displayed old vinyl records, cassette tape players, etc. creates a nostalgic ambience. Including some which are rare finds among collectors, a hand-crafted warm feeling in an independent restaurant is presented.

The menu is unique with added Californian and French techniques. The dishes for the day started and continued with California style organic cherry tomato salad, Miyazaki wagyu beef on a salt block, smoked salmon, omakase nigiri-sushi, chilled cauliflower soup, and warm vegetables with sesame-ponzu sauce. The presentation of Californian kappo with the combination of vegetables, duck, other meat, and sushi on the stylish ceramic ware evokes excitement. The concept of local production for local consumption is enforced by the way they buy the food ingredients, from the fish and farmer’s markets by the owner himself as well as for “AS B-Dama”.

“Delage” is now in its second phase. Kaoru Ishii, the sushi chef, and Mikiko Ando, the kitchen chef have succeeded Mr. Sasaki, the opening chef. Mr. Ishii is a veteran chef with 42-years of experience. He has worked in an Italian restaurant, and a robata grill restaurant in Japan, “Matsuhisa” in LA, and “Sushi Ran” in Sausalito. Ms. Ando has worked in San Francisco area restaurants as a sushi chef at “Sushi Chardonnay”, “Yuzu”, and “Delica”. She passionately said that she would love to keep offering a creative menu using a lot of local vegetables.

As for the drink menu, they offer a wide variety of beer, wine, and sake. There is an extensive list of Japanese local sake brands, which makes for a popular paring with the food. For the beer selection, in addition to some brands, a draft beer is poured from installed barrels imported from Japan. In the summer time, you can enjoy drinks in the outdoor garden setting.

Compared to San Francisco, there are fewer Michelin class high-end restaurants in Auckland. However, casual gourmet style is settled in, and people in the East Bay are very picky in taste and value consciousness. “Delage” is well liked in such an environment as a restaurant where people can experience high-end Japanese cuisine in a casual manner.


ここ数年、オークランドの外食シーンが大きく変化している。Jack London Squareのファーマーズマーケットの人気と共に地産地消の意識が広がり、“リアルフード”を求める人口が増えている。さらに隣町、バークレーのカリフォルニア料理発祥の店、「シェ・パニーズ」出身のシェフ達が続々オークランドに店舗を持ち始め、グルメの話題が尽きない。また、食ビジネスが起業しやすい市による環境作りで、若い食起業家によるカジュアルで個性的な店やフードトラック、ケータリングなどビジネスも多様化し、街の至る所で食のトレンドを垣間見る事ができる。4年前、リニューアルされた食マーケット&フードコート「SWAN」は、有名シェフも参加するB級グルメのフードコートで話題を呼び、今ではオークランドのホットスポットになっている。「Delage」は、同テナントとしてオープニングから出店していた「AS B-Dama」に続く第2号店となる。2016年4月の開店以来、カジュアルなオマカセ店として人気を集めている。

オーナーシェフの小野力氏が持つコンセプト、“クオリティ&カッジュアル”は見事に地元のファンを掴んだ。同氏は、長年サウスベイで日本食レストランにシェフとして勤めた後、オークランドで小さな惣菜と弁当の「Geta」を起業、 その後、弁当を中心としたイートイン、「B−Dama 」の成功で、「SWAN」にテナントとし移動し、「As B-Dama 」に改名。今回、地元の熱い声援に応え、同じ敷地内、独立店舗として「Delage」のオープンに至った。オークランドで日本人経営者によるオマカセ専門店は初めて。「オークランドの気さくな雰囲気を取り入れたハイエンド」を目指した同店の立ち上げには、2軒のレストランをミシュラン星に導いた佐々木正樹氏が加わり話題を集めた。しかも、グレードアップした8コースが$65と他店では見られない良心的な料金設定だ。


メニューはカリフォルニアとフレンチ技術が加わった独特のスタイル。その日のメニューは、カリフォルニア風オーガニックのチェリートマトサラダ、塩ブロックの上に盛り付けた宮崎ビーフと軽く燻製されたサーモン、オマカセ握り寿司、カリフラワー冷静スープ、温野菜の胡麻ポン酢和えと続く。このように野菜、鴨、肉、魚、野菜、寿司を組み合わせたカリフォルニア風割烹とデザインされた陶器とのプレゼンテーションはワクワクする内容だ。食材は「AS B−Dama」と同様、魚市場やファーマーズマーケットにオーナー自ら出向くなど極力地産地消を心がけている。

「Delage」は、現在2期目を迎えている。オープニングシェフの佐々木氏からバトンを受け取ったのは、寿司シェフの石井薫氏とキッチンシェフの安藤美樹子氏だ。石井氏はシェフ歴42年のベテランで、日本ではイタリアンや炉端店、米国では、Los Angeles の「Matsuhisa」, Sausalitoの「Sushi Ran」 でシェフを務めた。

一方、安藤氏は、サンフランシスコ地区で「Sushi Chardonnay」、「Yuzu」、「Delica」 での寿司シェフを勤めている。安藤氏は、「地元の野菜をたっぷり使った創造的なメニューを作りたい」と意気込んでいた。


オークランドのレストランは、サンフランシスコと比較すると高級店は少ないが、カジュアルグルメが浸透しており、イーストベイの客は味にうるさくとバリューに敏感だ。 そんな中「Delage」は、ハイエンドな日本食が気軽に体験できるレストランとして地域に愛されてる。

536 9th St.
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 823-2050
Tues.-Thurs./ 5:30pm-9:30pm
#alljapannews #japanese #delage #sanfrancisco #fusion #restaurant


Pointers for Selling Japanese Sake in 2017

By Yuji Matsumoto

Happy New Year!  I plan to work hard again this year to provide information that will help make Japanese sake an even more familiar alcoholic drink to have during a meal for your customers and for you.

For this issue I have put together pointers for restaurants and retail stores to sell Japanese sake and also important points for distributors in differentiation.
-- Grasp what customers like and offer the appropriate Japanese sake.
 You will be able to do this by asking customers what type of alcohol and favorite wine(s) they drink regularly.  For instance, for someone who likes bourbon, you can offer a junmai type that is prepared in a cask etc. 
-- For the Japanese sake menu, instead of dividing it into specific class sakes (Daiginjo, Ginjo, Honjozo etc), divide it into taste types and food(s) it matches with.
It is not ideal to have a menu with specific names that do not describe the taste or aroma at all.  It is important to taste test and with your judgment, create a menu that matches the taste of sake with the dish.
-- Offer cross merchandising with seasonal foods that can be used also by retailer stores.
Always point out Japanese sakes that are compatible with the daily dish (food item).
-- The sake cup; it is no exaggeration to say that it is the 'most important thing in drinking' especially for Ginjo types that have aromas.
Unfortunately there are very few "Japanese type" cups that are suitable with Ginjo type Japanese sakes with aroma, but we think it is a good idea to offer the first drink in a small white wine class as a taste testing for the customers.
-- It is important to provide information of beliefs and concerns about sake making in the brewery.
Distributors and head of breweries need to provide more information of their products to differentiate from competitors. Be clear in pointing out the characteristics of your sake and the taste you are aiming for in comparison with other companies and the business market.








#alljapannews #sake


Joy of Sake Tokyo

By Kosuke Kuji
"The U.S. National Sake Appraisal" that has been held every year since 2001 was held again this year. Entries of over 350 sakes are evaluated by 10 judges from Japan and the U.S. After the judging results, a "Gold Award" and a "Silver Award" is given to the top scored sakes, and additionally a "Grand Prize" and "Second Grand Prize" are awarded to the sakes that scored the highest in overall evaluation from the gold awards. 

This year's grand prize and second grand prize are announced on our homepage.

Of those winners, we are excited that our company's Tokubetsu Junmai won the Second Grand Prize in Junmai category.

The award ceremony will be held at "Joy of Sake" in Tokyo.  Also, "Joy of Sake" was held in New York and Honolulu besides Tokyo.

It is a fact that "Joy of Sake" has a very long history, and out of all these cities, this one to be held in Tokyo will be the last gathering.  To be held in November, it is a time when it is getting extremely cold in Japan and it's a very good season to enjoy drinking sake. 

To be held in Gotanda in Tokyo, there is a lot of excitement with lots of Japanese and foreigners living in Japan attending.

There are many different sake gatherings in Japan, but there are probably only a few of them like ours with so many foreigners attending.

This is a meeting where you can find out the trend of sake around the world while you are in Japan.

There are sakes introduced by U.S. breweries recently and you may call this an evaluation meeting of worldwide scale that is very much alive.

It's the same for sake category of International Wine Challenge (IWC), sake is being evaluated in different ways worldwide, not only in Japan, many new people are coming to the meetings to enjoy sake, and I can only help but feel that Japanese sake is becoming the sake of the world.

酒豪大陸「JOY OF SAKE 東京」



この表彰式は、全米日本酒歓評会出品酒を楽しむ会「JOY OF SAKE」の東京で表彰されます。東京以外にも、ニューヨークとホノルルで今年は「JOY OF SAKE」が開催されました。

とても長い歴史を実は持っているこの「JOY OF SAKE」ですが、東京での開催はこれらの都市の中でも最後の開催となります。時期も11月ということで、まさに日本は寒さが厳しくなり、日本酒が恋しい季節に行われます。





#alljapannews #sake #nation #tokyo #okubetsu #Junmai #junmai


Secchu Yokota

Secchu Yokota Secchu Yokota Secchu Yokota Secchu Yokota Secchu Yokota Secchu Yokota
Tempura omakase course offered at a reasonable price in a theater-like setting has quickly become the talk of the town

By Aya Ota

At the east end of the East Village district on Alphabet City which is not really an ideal location, there is a restaurant that has been consistently having a good flow of customers since its opening. It is “Seccu Yokota”. There are 8 counter seats only, and rotations are limited to only 2 per day. They serve a tempura-based omakase tasting course at $65. The restaurant gained popularity very quickly as “A place where you can get a high-quality course meal with many different dishes at a reasonable price”. They do not advertise or even have a sign in front, but they are always busy with customers who come from far away, frequent repeaters who often come monthly, etc.

The owner/chef, Atsushi Yokota, shares how the name of the restaurant came about, as “the principle of Japanese cuisine is wayo-secchu (blend of Japanese and Western style), and so is mine”. He grew up in a circumstance where both his father and the grandfather were chefs, so it was natural to get into the cooking world for Mr. Yokota who developed a delicate palate since childhood. In Japan, he started his cooking career in French cuisine. After coming to U.S. in 1998, he has continued to create imaginative and original wayo-secchu cuisine by working in various different restaurants, and by blending world-wide ingredients and Japanese and Western techniques.

The course starts with two appetizers which are full of seasonal ingredients. Mr. Yokota goes to a farmer’s market himself to procure the food ingredients, comes up with a menu according to what he purchased, and makes everything from scratch. The signature appetizer is the “Oyako Pâté”. This dish was hinted by the “Oyako Donburi” which is a very familiar dish to Japanese people, and served with pâté made from aged sashimi-grade fresh chicken mixed with soft-boiled eggs. This harmony created by the combination of pâté and eggs is superb, and represents the extracted concept of wayo-secchu. Next, you get 7 to 8 different tempura pieces consisting of vegetables and seafood cooked right in front of you. Since the restaurant is not a tempura specialty restaurant, the imagination is unconventional. Sometimes unique tempura where no other restaurant ventures such as of seaweed-marinated flounder, miso-marinated butter fish and others are served. To end the course, a rice or soba dish is usually served, but occasionally, things like tongue stew, lamb chop, curry rice, or meunière are served, which will surely tempt you to visit again. The dessert is ample in volume, and satisfying. The Japanese sake selection changes often with the season, and the volume is generous compared to other restaurants, yet the pricing is lower.

What makes it possible for them to offer such a high-quality course meal at such a reasonable price remains a secret of efficient operations and cost management. Only three staff including Mr. Yokota; 2 chefs and 1 server, works there. They share every task from dish washing to paper-work equally amongst themselves. The number of customers are set, and the menu is omakase style, which minimizes the waste of ingredients. The fixed costs such as labor and food are very well managed. Even the customers need to accept the restaurant’s system. To limit the rotations per day to 2, which starts at 6pm and 8:30pm, the cooking won’t usually start until all 8 seats are filled. If you are late, you may trouble the rest of the people waiting, so every customer needs to be conscious about punctuality. Not only for efficiency in operations, but this rule is also essential to serve temperature and time-sensitive tempura and other cooked food at the best possible timing. The restaurant can accommodate for the allergies of customers, but not for other details such as likes and dislikes in foods. They take reservations only by phone so they won’t miss explaining the system firmly in advance. “It is alright to accept only the kind of customers who love our food, and accept the system.” It sounds a bit too optimistic to me. It is a different attitude, and they are a unique presence in the restaurant industry in New York where you may find many arrogant customers at times. “The customers and the restaurant should be equal. I would like to create a trusting and respectful relationship with the customers,” Mr. Yokoto continues.

“Our restaurant is like a theater where people buy $65-tickets to enjoy a 2-and-a-half hour show.” He is confident that no one can mimic his cooking which is based on indisputable techniques and experiences. I heard that many chefs in the same industry come, and enjoy exchanging information. Please try to go “Secchu Yokota” where you can find something new and be impressed every time.







Secchu Yokota
199 East 3rd Street
New York, NY 10009
Tel: (212) 777-1124

Mon–Thu: 6:00pm–11:00pm
Fri-Sat: 6:00pm-12:00am
Closed on Sunday
#alljapannews #tempura #secchu #yokota #newyork


Sushi Sasabune Express

Sushi Sasabune Express Sushi Sasabune Express
Small, but shining restaurant in a high-class neighborhood

By Keiko Fukuda

Pacific Palisades is an upper-class residential town sandwiched between the mountains and the sea located about a 10 minute-drive north from Santa Monica towards Malibu. Many residents are in the entertainment industry. The midtown of this small town includes only a few blocks along Sunset Blvd. The restaurant, “Sasabune Express” is located in this central area, and is the only Japanese restaurant there.

The name, “Sasabune” must sound familiar to you if you are a sushi connoisseur of Los Angeles. In the 1990s, Sasabune in the Sawtelle area was the talk of the town because people used to make a long line outside of the restaurant waiting to get in. Yes, it is that Sasabune. The warm sushi rice served with big toppings were very refreshing and innovative. The Pacific Palisades location opened about 10 years ago as a set-up branch by the owner. As the name “Express” indicates, it started as mostly a take-out place. In 2011, when Kana Morita was assigned as the manager to run the place, the operation style changed drastically. The interior was renewed to allow people to sit and eat in a relaxed manner, which made the ratio of take-out 40%, and eat-in 60%.

Kana changed not only the style of the restaurant, but also became fastidious about the efficiency in operations. One example is the POS system using iPads. She explains how effective the POS is. “If the order is taken by hand, mistakes can be made, and it also requires another step which is to put the order through to the kitchen or the sushi bar. If ordered through the POS we are currently using, when the server inputs the order into the iPad at the table, the contents of the order will be printed out at the kitchen or the sushi bar. It saves not only time, but also minimize mistakes. There are 30 customer seats, but thanks to the POS, only one server can handle all orders during lunch time, and for even dinner time, myself and one other person on the floor can handle all the customers.” There is only one person working in the kitchen, two at the sushi bar, and one or two on the floor. They are really small in numbers, but superbly efficient.

The menu has been narrowed down. In order to lower the food cost, the menu is focused on sushi, and the tempura is shrimp only. The lunch menu and the dinner menu are the same. The most popular item is the Combination-B containing one each of tuna, salmon, and hamachi sushi, 2 pieces of albacore sushi, plus one hand-roll with a choice of salad or miso soup. The price is $14.90. The signature dish at this restaurant is called “Trust Me” at $42, which contains sashimi, 9 sushi pieces, and a hand-roll. You can taste the same quality as the original Sasabune because the chef built up his career at the main restaurant.

They close dinner early at 8:30pm, but also start early at 4:00pm. No alcohol is served. I heard that almost all the people who eat out in this town is the residents of Pacific Palisades. It is very difficult to acquire the alcohol license because it is such a quiet residential town. So rather than spending time and making efforts to fight for it, their strategy is to offer reasonable prices and a healthy style to eat sushi with no alcohol. The net profit of 25% indicates the strategy is working.

Kana, the able manager, surprisingly has not been working in the restaurant industry long. She actually used to work in the apparel business. A fresh view point must have been needed more than experience, which is evident with the successful innovation. However, they will face a new challenge 3 years from now. A large-scale shopping mall will be built across the street. Outsiders will start coming into this quiet town, Pacific Palisades, and the rent is expected to go up a lot. I should look forward to seeing how they take this challenge as a chance, and persevere through the challenge.


パシフィックパリセーズはサンタモニカからマリブ方面に10分ほど北上した場所にあり、海と山に挟まれた高級住宅街だ。エンターテインメント関係の住民が多いのが特徴。この街の中心街はサンセット・ブールバード沿いの限られた数ブロック。エリア唯一の日本食レストランとして営業しているSasabune Expressもまた、この中心地にある。

Sasabuneと聞けば、ロサンゼルスの寿司ファンなら「あの店」と思い浮かぶ。1990年代にウエストロサンゼルスのソーテルで長蛇の行列ができる店として人々の噂にのぼった、あのSasabuneだ。温かい寿司飯と零れ落ちる大盛りのネタが実に新鮮で革新的だった。パシフィックパリセーズのSasabune Expressは、その本店からの暖簾分けという形で10年近く前に開店。最初は店名にあるように「エクスプレス」、つまり持ち帰り寿司の店だったが、2011年にマネージャーとして森田加奈さんが店を任せられるようになってから、スタイルを大幅に変えた。落ち着いて食事ができる内装に一新し、現在では持ち帰りは40%、店内での食事は60%という割合になった。



また、メニューも絞り込んでいる。フードコストを下げるために寿司中心でメニューを構成、天ぷらは海老のみ。ランチもディナーもメニューは統一。最も人気があるのはツナ、サーモン、ハマチ1貫ずつにアバコア2貫、ハンドロール、サラダか味噌汁が付くコンボB。値段は14ドル90セント。また、本店での看板メニューのお任せは「Trust Me」というメニューで42ドル。刺身に9貫の握り、ハンドロールという内容だ。Sasabune本店で修行を積んでいるシェフによるものだから、店は変わっても同じクオリティで楽しめる。

さらにこの店、閉店時間は8時半。早く閉める分、ディナーは4時から営業している。しかもアルコールを一切提供していない。聞けば、パシフィックパリセーズの街で外食をする人々はほぼ確実にこの住宅地の住人なのだそうだ。静かな住宅街ということで、アルコールライセンスを取ることが困難。そこまで時間と労力をかけてアルコールの免許を取るよりも、アルコール抜き、リーズナブルな値段で健康的に寿司を食べてもらうのがSasabune Expressの作戦なのだ。しかも純利益率25%と聞けば、その作戦が成功していることがわかる。

手腕を発揮しているマネージャーの加奈さん、てっきりレストラン業界の経験が長いのかと思ったら、以前はアパレルの仕事に就いていたそうだ。経営改革には経験よりもフレッシュな視点が功を奏した。そして、3年後には新たな課題が降りかかってくる。通りを挟んだ反対側に大規模ショッピングモールが完成するのだ。静かな街だったパシフィックパリセーズに外部から人が流入するようになり、リース料も高騰することが予想される。しかし、それをチャンスと捉え、Sasabune Expressがどのような奮闘ぶりを見せるのかが楽しみだ。

Sushi Sasabune Express
970 Monument St. Suite 118
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

Mon– Sat 12:00pm-2:30pm,4:00pm-8:30pm
Sun 4:00pm-8:30pm
#alljapannews #pacificpalisades #sushi #sasabune #expo


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