Beautiful Japanese cuisine created by a young chef who won the "Rising Star" award

Beautiful Japanese cuisine crea... Beautiful Japanese cuisine crea...
By Elli Sekine

“Ju-Ni”, which opened recently in the popular NOPA district where more and more trendy restaurants and cafés are coming in, is one of those places which people are talking about for their Japanese cuisine influence, the newest trend.

They have been open only for a short time, but the restaurant is already so busy you cannot make a reservation until three months ahead. All they have as the eating space is a chef counter with 12 seats. Every 4 seats are well taken care of by one chef. The name “Ju-Ni (twelve)” derives from this concept. The owner/chef, Geoffrey Lee, recently won the title of the rising star (the rookie of the year award of the sushi chef division) by the local paper, “San Francisco Chronicle”, which gave him instant fame in the cooking scene. He is only 32 years old. It is quite an achievement that he has surpassed Japanese sushi chefs.

Mr. Lee is Chinese American. He was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area. “I want people to taste authentic Japanese food made in San Francisco,” says Mr. Lee. He became enchanted by Japanese food when he was still in school working part-time at a Japanese restaurant. At the beginning of his career, he was mainly making sushi rolls. While he was working at a high-end Japanese restaurant, “Sushi Ran”, he experienced an awakening. He learned the depth of sushi. He decided to become a high-end sushi chef, and started to re-learn and master the basics such as how to make sushi rice, and how to cut fresh fish properly. The places where he worked and learned those skills are all top 10 level sushi restaurants in the Bay area. This is his first restaurant he runs himself, and there is no Japanese staff. All the associates were born and/or raised in the U.S. Here, his creative menu where Californian food culture is reflected is receiving great reviews.

A restaurant with only 12 seats may give you an image of a very small place; however, it actually is unexpectedly spacious. The main counter is wide and deep. The interior decoration is simple and clean with hanging plants and abstract paintings. The food plates served on the counter must be the main art. The menu offers omakase style dishes and a-la-carte dishes you can order afterwards. After the salad and the appetizer, 12 different individual sushi is served. The course finishes with owan and the dessert. The Today’s salad was more Californian than Japanese prepared with fresh Californian vegetables including beets, and looked and tasted elegant. Next, bite-size oysters refresh your mouth and prepare it for the next sushi course. You can also add special menu items to the course at the same time. Today’s specials included a set of zuke maguro, seaurchin, and shirayaki ($34). Food science is used for Mr. Lee’s plates from checking the ultimate temperature of each sushi for well-balanced combination to caring for one drop of soy sauce to maximize umami in your mouth. For example, he slightly scorches, adds acidity with a few drops of lemon juice, salt, herbs, or cooks and sprinkles bonito powder on the food. He is fastidious about such details, and creates plates that are so artistic to look at. The last course item is A5 rank wagyu from Miyazaki prefecture. Despite of the small bite size, it is very satisfying and worthwhile. The general course menu, priced at $90 for these contents is relatively reasonable among other fellow SF restaurants with the tendency of increasing in price.

The vegetables are procured from the local farmers, and 90% of the fish is from Tsukiji. Also, whenever fresh local seasonal fish becomes available, they get it from there. Mr. Lee is very selective about the fish he gets including how it is caught, and the work ethic of the Fishermen. He is also carrying over the rule and spirit of Japanese cuisine – “Do not waste food ingredients!” By using up all the ingredients for 24 people every night, the sustainability of the business is realized. For the customers, it is a big point that they can always expect freshest ingredients.

For drinks, they carry 15 sake brands, wine, and beer. The premium sake Mr. Lee is particular about are imported from all over Japan, and a detailed description of each paring is offered.

Until recently, non-Japanese sushi chefs were rarely featured in the media. Now, we are definitely in a different era. As presented in the comment of Mr. Lee, “Sushi is simple, yet complicated at the same time”, non-Japanese first class sushi chefs who understand the delicate process of Japanese cuisine are beginning to arise. And tonight, four of such chefs were exhibiting the skills in front of the entertained customers at Ju-Ni’s counter.



リー氏は、生まれも育ちもサンフランシスコ、ベイエリアのチャイニーズアメリカン。「サンフランシスコメイドの本格派和食を味わっていただきたい」という彼は、学生時代に日本食レストランでアルバイトをしたのがきっかけで和食の魅力にとりつかれたという。最初はロール中心の寿司を握っていたが、ハイエンドレストラン、「Sushi Ran」に勤めた時ある” 気づき” があった。寿司の奥深さを知った彼はその後ハイエンドの寿司シェフを目指し、米の炊き方から魚の切り方を丁寧に学んでいった。修行したレストランもベイエリアでトップ10に入る寿司屋ばかりだ。今回初めての経営となる同店に日本人は一人も働いていない。全員がアメリカ育ちのシェフとスタッフによる構成だ。ここではカリフォルニアの食文化を取り込んだリー氏の独創的なメニューが高い評価を得ている。


テーブルに置かれるプレートこそが最大のアートなのだろう。メニューは、オマカセと食事のあとに注文できるアラカルトがある。サラダとアペタイザーの後、寿司一貫ずづのコースが12品続き、お椀とデザートで締めくくる。品目に出てくる[本日のサラダ」は、和食というよりカリフォルニアの新鮮な野菜にビーツが加わり、ドレッシングや仕上げもエレガントに飾られていた。次に一口サイズの絶品オイスターが口の中をリフレッシュし次の寿司コースの食欲に備えられる。並行して特別メニューも加えることもできる。今日は漬け中トロ、海水雲丹、白焼きをセット($34)などがあった。リー氏は寿司一つ一つを最高の温度、バランスが良い組み合わせを計り、1滴の醤油に至るまで口の中で旨味が十分味わえるよう食科学をも駆使したプレート作りをしている。例えば、少し炙りをかける、酸味を加える、レモンを数滴たらす、塩、薬味、調理した鰹節をパウダーのように振りかけるなど、細部までこだわり、見た目も芸術的に仕上げる。コースの最後には、宮崎産、A5の和牛の握りが盛られる。一口サイズなのだが、その脂のノリと柔らかさで、満足度の高い一品が価値観を齎せている。この内容でコース料理は$90 ~ と比較的リーズナブルだ。高騰するサンフ ランシスコのレストランの中でも価値が高い。




1335 Fulton Street
Ste 101
San Francisco, CA 94117


Mon-Thu: 5:30 pm - 10:30 pm
Thu-Sat: 5:30 pm - 11:30 pm
Closed on Sunday
#alljapannews #japanese #cuisine #sushi #juni #nopa


Sake Q & A

By Yuji Matsumoto

1. Cold or Hot
Many people think that high quality sake should be enjoyed chilled, but that is wrong. Compared to not needing to worry about the temperature for the better quality sakes, it is better to really chill the poor balanced sakes on the contrary. For one guideline, if it is a refreshing sake that has a flower or fruit type aroma, it’s better to chill them to enjoy the clean cut taste and aroma. On the contrary, for the dry sake with the fermented taste of rice or aroma of sourness etc it’s better to warm it to bring out the fullness of it and seemly make it taste delicious.

2. Which Sake is Better?
Which sake you like changes if the food you like regularly is rich or light so there is no exact answer, but I feel there is a tendency that someone that likes full body red wine will probably like a Junmai Kimoto or Honjozo type sake and someone that likes a young, fruity chardonnay will like a Daiginjo of Niigata prefecture type sake. Matching with the food is extremely important and if you don’t particularly care for drinking the sake by itself, you might make a surprising discovery if you have it with a particular dish so I ask if you will give a try.

3. Tasting Method
Same as wine, drink it while sipping in air. Choose a glass for white wines type, pouring a small amount and lightly mixing it with air is important. If the temperature of the sake is too low it becomes hard to distinguish the aroma so you can slightly warm it with both hands in that case.

4. Drinking Cup
Not only for sake but for wines or beers, it’s amazing that the taste can drastically change depending on the glass. If you want to enjoy the taste and especially the aroma, a small white wine glass is good. For hot sake, so the steam of the alcohol is not smothering, a ceramic type with a slightly large mouth that holds the temperature is good. A wooden square doesn’t go well with aromatic Ginjo types but for sakes with definite body like Junmai types, you can enjoy them with the aroma of Cypress. Please enjoy cold or at room temperature if you have it that way.


1. 冷か燗か

2. いいお酒はどれ

3. テイスティング方法

4. 飲む器
#alljapannews #sake #japanese #testing


Enjoy Jizake at Tokyo Station Underground Shopping Center

By Kosuke Kuji

Tokyo Station that is located in Tokyo which is also the center of Japan.

Tokyo Station has been newly born and changed with a large scale renovation construction in recent years and Japanese sake is being offered at different locations so there are more opportunities to try Japanese sakes.

With the increase of foreign visitors in the last few years, many foreigners can be seen even at Tokyo Station also. One place where a foreigner will definitely visit when they come to Japan is Tokyo Station.

Within the station, after you go thru the ticket gates and go underground there is a shopping area that spreads in front of you called “Gransta.”

Once you go thru the ticket gates of the station in the past, there were only a few souvenir, convenience or station bento stores, and a small ‘tachigui soba’ (eat noodles while standing) restaurant, but that image has greatly changed after the opening of Gransta.

Gransta has many specialty and unique stores from restaurants that have all kinds of Japanese/foreign/Chinese bentos, special restaurants from resort specialty chains, cakes or Japanese-style confectionery stores, or gift stores with brand name items, there is so much delight just from looking around.

Would like to share that there is a store here where you can enjoy Japanese sake by the glass for reasonable prices. It is Hasegawasaketen Tokyo Station Gransta operated by Hasegawa Shoten which we introduced to you in a previous column.
This bar only has about 10 seats at the counter but there is always a line of customers waiting outside in the evening and is such a popular bar where you can see customers savoring Japanese sake even in the early morning hours.

There is no other ideal bar-style pub that can used during the short time you are waiting for the Shinkansen (Japanese high-speed rail) or express trains and it couldn’t be a better place for the people that like sake.

All of you in the U.S. coming home or for your sightseeing trip to Japan, I think you will have a good time if you stop by Tokyo Station and have a drink at the bar where you can enjoy a glass of Jizake (regional sake) before you leave. Another pleasure is you can certainly buy a bottle of the sake you enjoyed there.








#alljapannews #japan #sake #jizake #tokyo #station


Surprising unification of two trendy cuisines – Japanese and Mexican

Surprising unif... Surprising unif... Surprising unif... Surprising unif...
By Aya Ota

“Takumi Taco”, a fast food eatery in New York which serves unified dishes of Japanese and Mexican, the two trendiest cuisines, has become the talk of the town. The tacos in which various Japanese ingredients are used as an accent are getting a lot of attention from New Yorkers who are flexible and tend to welcome new food cultures willingly.

Mr. Derek Kaye, the co-founder of the shop, told us how the concept of this eatery came about. “I got the idea for the menu from the dishes that used to be served for the employees of a high-end sushi restaurant.” Derek majored in Hotel Management at Cornell University. He took a strong interest in the restaurant industry, and learned about the industry through his experiences in working various jobs from dish washing to cooking in well-known restaurants, hotels, and his uncle’s eatery. He launched a food truck business called “Eddie’s Pizza Truck” in 2010, and has been passionate about the mobile food business. During that time, he met Mr. Mark Spitzer, the executive chef of 10 years at a high-end sushi restaurant called “BONDST” which is the favorite of many celebrities, decided to make him the partner, and launched the food truck “Takumi Taco”, in April of 2014.

They started out in the outdoor food market called “Smorgasburg”, and the quick success there resulted in having three street stores in Manhattan in no time. They are a tenant of Manhattan’s popular establishments, “Chelsea Market”, “Urbanspace Vanderbilt”, and “Starrett Lehigh”. The food truck at the Smorgusburg is still in operation, and their catering business is also strengthening.

The “Spicy Tuna Taco” made with sashimi quality fresh tuna reminds you of the popular tuna sushi roll. Some of the menu items such as “Japanese Curry Beef Taco”, which reminds you of Japanese curry rice, and “Chicken Teriyaki Bowl” are the nice examples of the combinations with Japanese modern tastes that have been well accepted among Americans. The “Sapporo Beer Braised Short Rib” reminds you of Japanese pork Kakuni. Other Japanese ingredients effectively used include edamame, yuzu, and miso. The taco made with “Gyoza Shell”, their original, is also very popular. Most of the menu items are created by the partner chef Marc. His 10-year experience and refined skills as the executive chef for a well-known sushi restaurant is clearly reflected in the well-balanced and unique combinations of Japanese and Mexican foods. The Japanese ingredients are used not to overpower, but to add a nice accent to each item. One of the reasons for their long-lasting popularity may be the fact that the original taste and the casualness of Mexican tacos are well preserved in their menu.

Their strategy to obtain more customers is to have their shop located in a place where people naturally gather, rather than trying to attract them to the shop. In fact, an average of 4,000 people gather at Chelsea Market every day. This market has become a famous gathering place in Brooklyn, and a second location has been added. The Smorgusburg collects as many as 10,000 people a day, and many of them stop by for the “Japanese inspired tacos” concept.

Please try the new taste created by this unique unification yourself.


ジャパニーズとメキシカン、ニューヨークで人気の二大食文化が融合したユニークなファストフード『Takumi Taco』が話題だ。さまざまな日本食材をアクセントに使ったタコスが、新しい食文化も柔軟に受け入れるニューヨーカーの注目を浴びている。


そして、2010年にフードトラック『Eddies Pizza Truck』を立ち上げ、モバイル・フード・ビジネスに情熱を注いできた。そして、ニューヨークのセレブが足繁く通う高級寿司店『Bond St』のエグゼクティブ・シェフを10年以上務める、マーク・スピッツァー氏と出会い、パートナー提携。2012年4月にフードトラック『Takumi Taco』を立ち上げた。

立ち上げ当初は、フード専門野外マーケット『Smorgasburg』への出店からスタートしたが、瞬く間に人気となり、今では路面店3店舗を構えるまでに急成長。マンハッタンの人気商業施設『Chelsea Market』『Urbanspace Vanderbilt』『Starrett Lehigh』にテナントとして入っている。『Smorgasburg』にもフードトラックを出店し続けているほか、ケータリングにも力を入れている。

刺身同様の鮮度のマグロを使ったタコス「スパイシーツナ」は、人気の巻き寿司を彷彿とさせる具材だ。日本のカレーライスをイメージしたタコス「ジャパニーズ・カレー・ビーフ」や「鳥の照り焼き丼」など、米国人好みの現代的な日本食のテイストがうまく取り入れられている。「ショートリブ、サッポロビール煮込み」は、豚の角煮を思わせる。ほかにも枝豆や柚子、味噌などを巧みに取り入れている。同店が独自開発した「Gyoza Shell」で具材を挟んだタコスも人気がある。メニュー考案・開発は主に、パートナーのマーク氏が担当。さすが有名寿司店で10年以上エグゼクティブ・シェフとして腕を奮っているだけのことはあり、それぞれ個性の強いメキシカンとジャパニーズを組み合わせ、絶妙な調和を創り出している。全体的に日本食材は主張しすぎず、あくまでもアクセントとして活用。メキシカン・タコスとしての美味しさやカジュアルさを維持しているのも、安定した人気の秘訣かもしれない。

同店の集客戦略は「自分たちが集客するのではなくて、人が集まるところに出店すること」だという。実際、チェルシーマーケットには一日平均4,000人が訪れるといい、今やブルックリン名物となり開催地も2カ所に増えた『Smorgasburg』も1日1万人以上の来場者があるという。多くの人が「Japanese Inspired Tacos」というコンセプトに足を止めるという。

Takumi Taco
75 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
Tel: 212-989-4200

Website: http://takumitaco.com

Monday-Thursday 11am-9pm
Sunday 11am-8pm
#alljapannews #japanese #mexican #restaurant #taco


Fastidiously created steamed pork buns

Fastidiously created steamed p... Fastidiously created steamed p...
By Keiko Fukuda

The Pacific Square is a shopping mall in Gardena which is a city where many Japanese and Japanese Americans reside. After the recent change of the Japanese grocery store there, which has been reborn as “Tokyo Central & Main”, a small pork buns shop that used to be located at a corner of the food court in the previous market has moved to a new location in the new market. Since the new location is 3 times larger than the previous space, the interior of this shop has been redesigned to provide a red and black color-themed brighter ambience, and a large sign of the menu with photos that are visible from everywhere in the food court has been displayed. A designer/photographer was specifically hired to redesign the shop space for better visibility. The bigger space allowed to expand the menu items such as fried rice and an-kake pan-fried noodles that require larger utensils and space.

The number of customers has been increasing every time I visit this shop. It is like I have been witnessing a great example of a successful case achieved by a small effective change – in this case, a change of location, interior, and addition of an easy-to-read menu sign. Although the taste of the buns has been constantly evolving, the basic concept has been the same – serving of very tasty authentic steamed pork buns, the kind you find in the Tokyo area, which has been the purpose of the owner/chef Kenichi Usui since the opening in 2012. Chef Usui’s career spans 23 years. He worked in a Chinese restaurant in Tokyo for a long time, and then came here 15 years ago. After running a sushi restaurant for a while, he entrusted the shop with the partner and left to start a ramen food truck business.

He said, “I was mainly serving ramen, but the pork buns I tried to add to the menu was such a big hit, and that convinced me to turn it into a pork buns only business.”

First, he started out with an outdoor vendor style shop, and then moved to a small corner shop in the market before turning to Tokyo Central & Main in 2012.

The pork buns are made from scratch by chef Usui with the ingredients procured himself. The size of the buns are overwhelmingly large. You cannot help but smile when tasting its tender voluminous pork and crispy vegetable contents. However, I thought that the price, $3.75, for one pork bun might sound a bit expensive if you have not tasted it yet. I asked him if he ever worried that people may think twice about buying because of the high price. He said, “You pay over 500yen for a good-quality pork bun in Tokyo. My price indicates the kind of quality I am striving for to achieve in my creation.”

For the people who don’t eat pork for religious reasons, and for the many vegans who live in the Los Angeles area, he makes Vegan Yasai Buns. He says, “My wife suddenly became a vegan, which triggered the idea of serving vegan buns. Some customers also asked if I sell vegan buns at the shop.” He told me that there is a regular customer who lives far away who is absolutely hooked on both pork and vegan buns, and buys as many as 30 buns each time to freeze them and defrost one by one to enjoy a few at a time.

Other menu items include meaty cheese buns, crab & pork shumai dumplings, veggie spring rolls, pork & takana dumplings, etc. Besides the pork buns, there are even more items that prove his skills as chef such as grilled gyozas which have been highly recommended by the Los Angeles Times, and chicken wings made by a specially developed recipe by Mr. Usui because it is one of his favorite foods. For the noodle dishes, the House Special An-kake Fried Noodles is sold often.

This pork buns shop has stepped up from an outdoor vendor style shop to a small in-market corner shop, and now to a shop 3 times larger. “People say that I am probably taking too many steps (lol).” Mr. Usui, the fastidious pork bun maker told me his prospect, “I want to come up with a strategy as my next step to have more and more Americans try my pork buns”.










1620 W.Redondo Beach Blvd.
Gardena, CA 90247

Everyday open
#alljapannews #steamedpokbuns #thepacific #square #gardena


Becoming a trend setter in a very short time

Becoming a trend setter in a ... Becoming a trend setter in a ... Becoming a trend setter in a ...
By Aya Ota

The “Zuma” group has opened 10 contemporary Japanese restaurants all over the world in the cities such as Hong Kong, Istanbul, Dhaka, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, and Rome since they opened the first location in London in 2002. In the United States, following the first location in Miami in 2010, another one opened in the Midtown district of New York in January of 2015, which has already become a trend setter almost immediately.

“To me, cooking is the same as languages. Cooking is communication”, says the executive chef, Oliver Lange. He was already interested in cooking at a tender age. There was a sushi restaurant in the neighborhood where he grew up, which got him familiarized with Japanese cuisine. Later, he toured all over Japan to learn about Japanese cuisine, and was deeply influenced by the Japanese food culture.

While he was expanding his career and gaining excellent reviews as a chef worldwide in Munich, Frankfurt, and London, he met Rainer Becker, the founder of the Zuma Group, at one occasion, and ended up becoming the head chef of the Group’s London restaurant. His superb ability got him promoted to Executive Chef of Zuma in New York in September of 2015, only several months later.

At “Zuma”, you can enjoy modern and elegant Japanese cuisine evolved from traditional and philosophical Japanese culture. In order to create a casual relaxing atmosphere despite of the high-end rich looking interior, the izakaya style of serving was chosen. The dishes delivered one by one from any of the three different sections - the sushi bar, the robata grill, and the principal kitchen - can be shared with your family and friends at your table. For those who are not familiar with izakaya style dining, your server is most willing to explain or answer questions. Many of the customers prefer “omakase” style ordering.

In addition to the standard menu items shared by all the Zuma restaurants worldwide, each one offers different items based on the local ingredients and favorites. Here in New York, there are some original items such as “Freshly Seared Wagyu Sirloin Tataki with Black Truffle Ponzu”, “Saikyo Miso Bun with Uni”, “Grilled Octopus, Lemon Chili Sauce and Yuzu Pickled Fennel”, “Smoked Chutoro, White Asparagus and Yuzu Shallots”. Chef Oliver’s newest creation, “Black Cod Marinated in Saikyo Miso with Wasabi Citrus Sauce” is superb. As he says, “I love to combine miso and citrus flavors”, he delivers this favorite combination of Japanese ingredients well in this dish by gently and flavorfully grilling the thick piece of black cod filet in magnolia leaves, and enhancing its flavor with Saikyo miso sauce mixed with wasabi and citrus juice. The Sankyo miso used in this dish was created specifically for this restaurant. They carry more than 150 different kind of sake. “Zuma Ginjo”, brewed exclusively for the Zuma Group by a brewer in Akita prefecture is a very smooth one.

As described in the words of the founder, Mr. Rainer Becker, “Zuma is about a complete dining experience”, and the interior of the restaurant is definitely included in its concept. As you step into the 2-story, 9,959 sqf of luxurious space, it overwhelms you. The natural materials such as wood and stones used generously and accentuated by Japanese motifs create a gorgeous yet relaxing ambience. The main dining room on the first floor has an atrium style ceiling, which gives an open feeling. The tables are far apart, and some are very private. The second floor lounge provides an intimate and comfortable space. You can get a customized service in one of the 6 private rooms for a party from a meeting to a cocktail reception. This modern and functional interior space was designed by a Japanese architect, Noriyoshi Muramatsu.

The Group is in the process of opening another one in Las Vegas by the end of this year. “Zuma” is definitely the kind of restaurant you should try.




 『Zuma』では、日本食文化の伝統と哲学を重視しつつも、現代的かつ優雅に進化させた料理の数々を楽しめる。高級感あふれる店内でありつつも、くつろいだ雰囲気で過ごしてもらいたいという想いから、居酒屋スタイルを採用。3つのセクション、 “寿司バー”、“炉端グリル”、“メインキッチン”から次々と運ばれてくる料理を、友人や家族とシェアできるよう考慮されている。居酒屋スタイルに不慣れな客には、サーバーが丁寧に説明するほか、“おまかせ”を用意し利用する客が多い。

 日本酒も150銘柄以上取りそろえている。秋田県の蔵元が特別に醸した「Zuma Ginjo」は喉ごしが柔らかく格別の一本だ。



261 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Tel: 212-544-9862

Monday - Friday
Lunch 11:45am – 3:00pm
Dinner 5:45pm – 11:30pm
Dinner 5:45pm – 11:30pm
Dinner 5:45pm – 10:00pm

Monday - Saturday
Dinner 5:45pm – 11:30pm

Monday - Saturday
Bar & Snacks 5:00pm – 12:00am
#alljapannews #newyork #suma #sushibar #izakaya


High-end restaurant opened where first-class food and service are offered

High-end restaurant opened w... High-end restaurant opened w... High-end restaurant opened w... High-end restaurant opened w... High-end restaurant opened w...
By Elli Sekine

In the May, an anticipated and well talked-about true authentic Japanese restaurant called “Hashiri” opened in downtown San Francisco. Mr. Ikuo Hayashi, the CEO of an IT enterprise, “Digital Garage, Inc.”, and also the owner of “Hashiri” of Daikanyama, Tokyo, had an idea of having a first-rated authentic Japanese restaurant in San Francisco which could become the center location of his business expansion, and started this joint venture with Mr.Ryuichi Terayama and Mr. Yasuyuki Rokuyata. The menu displays only omakase-style courses of kaiseki and sushi prepared with unified Japanese and Californian ingredients. The average food cost per customer is $450, which is as high-end as other Michelin 3-star San Francisco restaurants. This “Hashiri” in S.F. is their first overseas restaurant with a new concept where the owners’ careers have been reflected, and demonstrated everywhere.

The first thing that draws your attention is its innovative appearance. The modern CA/Japan cross-cultural art by LA resident modernism designer, Yutaka Tamura, sweeps away everybody’s image of Japanese restaurants. Abstract modern art on the walls create a metropolitan pop culture-like ambience, and as a good contrast, the sushi bar is decorated with very quiet and Japan-like designs. The Japanese calligraphic letters that spell “Hashiri” are lighted up to create an impressive image. Projected on the ceiling of the dining room area are 4 seasons of Japanese scenery created by Hiroyuki Nakano, a Japanese film writer, on a very high-tech looking projector screen which gives you the feel of every season at the table.

Every department, from the reception to the kitchen, consists of a strong team of professionals who are well experienced in working for Japanese restaurants both in Japan and the U.S. The executive chef is Mr. Takashi Saito who used to be the head chef of “Yunoki”, the kaiseki chef is Mr. Shinichi Aoki who used to be the head chef of “Keigetsu” (no longer in business), and the sushi chef at the counter is Mr. Tokunori Makari from “Hashiri” Daikanyama.

“Hashiri”’s theme is the presentation of seasonal freshness. Each dish expresses the first crops, in-season produce, and ending-season produce of each seasonal period. Mr. Saito wants the customers to taste the season with all 5 senses because season is the secret ingredient of the traditional Japanese cuisine.

Californian produce must be organic, and he visits the local farmer’s market to acquire it directly from the farmers. The fresh fish is sent directly from Tsukiji by air. The omakase course created by the soul of the chef is prepared with the fresh crops of the season (hashiri) of both Japan and California, each artistically arranged in beautiful Japanese pottery imported from various regions of Japan.

The course with 12 dishes starts with the appetizer of Japanese mustard spinach which is the hashiri of spring or summer, steamed shrimp dumpling in a starchy sauce, young sweetfish karaage, etc. which are artfully arranged on a plate. The soup dish called “oan” is pike congera sea eel in broth lightly flavored with yuzu. The next is “otsukuri” (sashimi) accentuated by lotus stem and myoga ginger followed by “hachi no mono” (in a bowl) which contains eggplant topped with elegant sea urchin, then, nenrin daikon (steamed ground meat and daikon layered roll), and well-seasoned jellied meat and vegetable dish. The main dish is top-grade Kagoshima wagyu grilled on Bincho charcoal, and black-throat sea perch. The generous portion of side vegetables are also very tastefully seasoned. After that are the three sushi plates soulfully prepared by chef Makari. It takes 3 hours to finish the course all the way to the dessert, but it is a very relaxed and very worthy time spent.

The manager, Kenichiro Matsuura offers first-class service with his rich experience working in various high-end Japanese restaurants, and his language skill. The spirit of hospitality can be felt everywhere, in welcoming of the customers, immaculately clean appearance, service at the table, etc., all the way to seeing off the customers to make every customer feel special.

The drink menu is the hot target for the restaurant. In order to accommodate businessmen who like Japanese food and local foodies as well, their attractive menu includes California wines, close to 200 kinds of French wines carefully selected by the sommelier, as well as sake, shochu, spirits, Japanese whiskey, beer, etc. The restaurant is located in the middle of downtown, but despite of such a location, the area is also for the local residents to come and relax with the surrounding trees and installed benches. In order to connect with the community, and take advantage of such a location, they started to run an outdoor drink garden lounge where people can drop by for a drink after work or a convention.

You can make a reservation for three different courses; Hashiri "Omakase" at Table ($250), Hashiri "Omakase" at Sushi Bar ($300), and Hashiri " Omakase" at Chef's Table ($500) (The reservation has to be made at least 2 weeks in advance.) The private dining for up to 8 people can be reserved, and you can request for sushi-making right at the table. “Hashiri” is the one and only high-end Japanese restaurant in San Francisco, where you can enjoy beautiful traditional seasonal Japanese course meals with all of your 5 senses.


5月中旬、サンフランシスコ ダウンタウンに、予々前評判で噂になっていた本格的和食レストラン、「Hashiri」がオープンした。IT 企業「デジタルガラージ」の代表取締役社長で代官山の寿司店「はしり」のオーナーである、林 都 氏がビジネス拠点となるサンフランシスコに「日本の「はしり」のコンセプトをそのままSFに」と考案し、寺山隆一氏、六彌太 恭行氏との共同経営で始動した。メニューの特徴は、日本とカリフォルニアの食材を融合させた会席と寿司のおまかせコース。客単価は一人平均$450とサンフランシスコのミシュラン三ツ星店と並ぶ高級店だ。今回海外初店舗となる「Hashiri」は、経営者達のキャリアを活かした斬新なアイディアが随所に見られる。

まず注目されるのは、洗練されたインテリアデザイン。ニューヨーク在住“モダニズム”デザイナー、滝浦 浩氏が手がけたカリフォルニアと日本の”クロスカルチャー”をイメージしたモダンアートは今までの和食レストランのイメージを一世風靡する内容。壁には抽象近代美術や肖像写真が都会的でポップなイメージを創り、一方メインの寿司カウンターは、静粛で和風。毛筆で書かれた「はしり」の文字がライトアップされ聡明な印象だ。また、ダイニングの天井には、日本の映像作家、中野裕之氏による美しい日本の四季折々の風景がハイテク技術を搭載したプロジェクターパネルに映し出され、テーブルに居ながら「季節」を感じることができる。


「Hashiri」のテーマは季節の旬を創作する事。それぞれの季節の「はしり」(季節に初めて出回るもの)、「旬」(出盛りのもの)、「なごり」(そろそろ終わりだなという時期)への繋がりが一つ一つの器に表現されている。「日本の伝統料理の極意である季節を五感で味わってほしい」と 斎藤氏は、カリフォルニア食材はオーガニックにこだわり、仕入先も地元のファーマーズマーケットに出向き農家から直接調達している。良質で新鮮な魚は築地からの空輸。まさに日本とカリフォルニア食材が融合したおまかせ料理は、日本各地から取り寄せた美しい陶器に、シェフの職人魂が込められた「はしり」独特の季節の料理が盛られる。

12品のコースの内容は、春、夏のはしりである小松菜、豆腐、海老しんじょう、稚鮎の唐揚げなどがアートのように盛られた前菜から始まる。「おわん」は、はしり牡丹鱧が優しい旬のブロスと柚子がほのかに香る一品。蓮の茎やミョウガを添えた「お造り」に続き「鉢のもの」は、翡翠茄子の上にバフン雲丹をあしらい、年輪大根、風味を閉じ込めたうまだしゼリーのお膳。メインの焼き物には、Aグレード, 鹿児島和牛の備長炭焼、ノドグロ、それを取り巻く旬の野菜も絶妙な炊き加減でボリュームはあるが上品な味付けだ。その後、銘苅氏が腕を奮う握りが3コース続く。デザートまで約3時間を要するディナーだが、ゆったりとした上質な時が流れる。

マネージャーの 松浦顕一郎氏は、これまで各高級和食レストランに勤めた経験と語学力を活かし一流のサービスを手がけている。店の清掃、予約客の“お迎え”から接客、“お見送り”に至るまでで、“おもてなし”の精神は、店全体に行き渡り訪れる客を特別な気持ちにさせている。


4 Mint Plaza
San Francisco, CA 94103

first seating begins at 5:00 pm and second seating time starts at 8:00 pm.
#alljapannews #sanfrancisco #japanesefood #sushi #hashiri


A health-conscious Japanese restaurant

A health-conscious Japanese r... A health-conscious Japanese r... A health-conscious Japanese r... A health-conscious Japanese r...
By Keiko Fukuda

Lately, more and more restaurants are adopting a popular concept called “Farm to Table”. As it says literally, “Farm to Table” is a method of cooking knowing exactly which farms the ingredients are from. “necco”, a Japanese restaurant near Westwood is one of those restaurants which uses this concept.

The owner/chef, Kenji Koyama, goes to Santa Monica Farmers Market 3 times a week to select vegetables by himself carefully with his own eyes and hands. He says, “I go there as early as 7 o’clock in the morning. Otherwise somebody else can get better produce before me.” On the days when the farmers market is not open, he goes to a few different grocers which carry organic and natural produce.

The ingredients carefully selected by Kenji himself get transformed and appear on the menu, and served at “necco”, a health-conscious Japanese restaurant. Many of the menu items are safe with vegetarian customers because they are gluten-free, prepared with vegetarian mayonnaise, and no MSG. For sweetness, beet sugar is mainly used instead of regular white cane sugar. One of the secrets to the popularity of this place seems to be the fact that meat lovers and vegetarians can come together to dine.

Kenji’s career as a chef spans over 25 years. His career started by working for an izakaya during his high-school days. After graduating, he came to the U.S., and worked for a Japanese restaurant near Los Angeles for 3 years. During that time, he felt the needs of serious training as a chef, and went back to Japan to be trained as a sushi chef in Tokyo.

He says, “My specialty is sushi making, however, after I came back, I realized that so many people in Los Angeles area are very health-conscious. For instance, people who practice Yoga have the extension of a healthy Yoga concept in their diet. I opened this restaurant hoping to offer a new style of cuisine which is natural and based on Japanese cuisine.”

As the location, he initially wanted somewhere between downtown L.A. and Hollywood such as Echo Park or Silver Lake where many health-conscious restaurants already existed, but none of them were based on Japanese cuisine.

Unfortunately, at the time, he could not find any available property that matched his conditions. However, he could still expect many vegan or vegetarian customers who live in the area to come to the current location near Westwood which is also right next to Beverly Hills.

The simple wooden interior provides natural warm ambience. You can see the chef cooking in their open kitchen from all angles inside of the restaurant. Some customers want to sit at the counter in front of the kitchen to watch Kenji cook closely. They even thank Kenji for the enjoyable cooking show when they leave.

Although the number of customers are increasing through word of mouth, Kenji knows well how effective it is to use social networking is in this modern society, and formed a special marketing team for it. He kept showing the news, press releases and photos of the menu items of the restaurant on the media such as Instagram and Facebook, which led to being featured in some magazine articles and interviews.

The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner every day except Tuesdays, the regular day-off, and Sunday lunch. The lunch menu includes 15-dollar one-plate lunches such as the meat plate, fish plate, and vegetable plate. I went there to have lunch for the first time with a friend of mine who recommended the place. I had the chicken plate, and my friend had the salmon plate. I was impressed with the tender flavor of my dish, and how money-worthy the meal was thanks to the generous portion of the side vegetables. You can enjoy a variety of foods in this one dish. For the dinner time, this place attracts many health-conscious customers as a tapas restaurant where you can enjoy the tapas menu with organic sake.

Kenji told me about his future prospect, “I want to offer omakase style dishes. My motto as a cook is to preserve the sense of fun in cooking, and to value the caring thought about making delicious dishes.” It sounds like he really cares about the health and the happiness of the people who eat his cooking. When I asked him about the possibility of having the second location, he said that he really wanted to concentrate on building a solid ground there first.












1929 Westwood Blvd.,Los Angeles
Mon.& Wed.-Sat.11:30-2:30LC,17:30-22:30LC
Closed on Tuesday and Sunday Lunch


Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/necco_japanese/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/neccorestaurant/

#alljapannews #japanese #restaurant #farmtotable


2016 International Wine Challenge Sake Judging

2016 International Wine Challenge Sake Judging
By Yuji Matsumoto

I have been a judge of IWC Sake division for 5 years and since 2011, I have been serving this organization as a Panel Chairman.

This year was our 10th anniversary since we added sake in the International Wine Challenge so the venue took place in Hyogo, Japan. It was nice to go to Japan and taste over 1,000 different sake which was the largest entry ever.

In order to have a balanced and fair judging, all the sakes are covered so the judges can not see what they are tasting.

This year there were 8~9 panel chair judges and each panel chair has 3~4 judges under them. We mix people’s nationality to balance their preference and taste.

The most important element to judge is not to be bias of their person preference and seek for the balance in the category which is Junmai, Junmai Ginjo, Junmai Daiginjo, Honjozo, Ginjo, Daiginjo, Koshu(aged sake) and sparkling.

The main responsibility for the panel chair is to speak last and listen to what other judges are trying to express and taste in each sake.

After we submit our results and score of each sake, there are senior judges who re-taste and confirm the results in order to make sure the panel chair judged sake fairly.

The last day (the 3rd day) is only for the panel chairman to determine the medal sake which are Gold, Silver, Bronze, Commended and Trophy.

These results will be announced one week after the event. Since this IWC sake is gaining more popularity and recognition, the sake that are awarded in Gold or Trophy have tremendous exposure through out the world, not only in sake industry but also in wine industry. I am very happy to be part of this organization and wishing more sake would participate.





今年は8〜9人のパネル審査員が参加し、各パネルチェアの下には審査員が3〜4人いる。 また、味の嗜好とバランスをとるために審査員の国籍も混成されている。





#alljapannews #wine #sake #judging


The 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake Part 3

The 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake Part 3
By Kosuke Kuji

I received a phone call from Master Sake Brewer Morikawa in "Kouro" of Kumamoto prefecture a few days after the Kumamoto Earthquake. It happens that while I was in the 3rd year of attending Tokyo University of Agriculture, Brewing and Fermentation, I had the experience of receiving student training at "Kouro", the birthplace of Kumamoto brewing yeast No. 9. For two weeks, I slept in the brewery with Master Sake Brewer and all of the brewery staff, learned the basics of sake making and fortunate to receive training of cultivating brewing yeast and also Kouro brewing yeast (Kumamoto brewing yeast).

At the time it was the Master Sake Brewer Morikawa that gave me warm and sometimes strict guidance.

To hear his voice after a long time since I graduated university brought back such fond memories, but beyond that I was so worried about the damage status that I asked about the damage in Kouro with asking about general matters.

Regarding Kouro brewing yeast (Kumamoto brewing yeast) that I was most worried about, they had already incorporated in-house generators since they occasionally experience outages from many typhoon passing through Kyushu, so there was absolutely no problem with the refrigeration of the yeast.

I found out that on top of that their preservation technology of yeast has advanced and they could now dry the yeast and store it in room temperature, and already as double insurance had preserved such dry yeast as a backup.

I was so relieved after I heard this. The original yeast of brewing yeast No. 9, Kouro brewing yeast was saved!

Regarding damage status of the entire brewery, serious condition was caused by a chimney breaking and falling directly on the electrical lines of the Kyushu Shinkansen, a large number of sake bottles were broken in the bottle storage, and there was threat that the storage brewery may collapse and was off limits etc, there was no way of grasping the total damage at that time.

However, Master Brewer Morikawa told me this regarding the yeast.

"Kumamoto yeast doesn't belong only to Kouro. I made sure that there was tight management of the yeast because many breweries across Japan depend on it."
I thought that was wonderful thinking and what wonderful responsibility he has.
Let's drink Kumamoto sake and support their quick recovery.

「熊本大地震 その3」










#alljapannews #kumamoto #earthquake #japan #sake


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