What is Japanese food? Sushi, or ramen, or kaiseki? What about Izakaya? Akiko Katayama, a Japanese native, New York-based food writer and director of the New York Japanese Culinary Academy, tells you all about real Japanese food and food culture. With guests ranging from sake producers with generations of experience to American chefs pushing the envelope of Japanese gastronomy, Japanese cuisine is demystified here!
Wagyu: The Most Prized Meat In The World
Our guest is Yuki Ueki, the assistant vice president of Zen-Noh America. Zen-Noh America is a subsidiary of the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations of Japan.
As you may know, Wagyu beef is known for its extreme marbling and delicateness, as well as its unique, pleasant flavor. Behind its deliciousness, there is so much to discover such as its breeds, how it is raised, and the healthy unsaturated fat it contains.
In this episode, we will discuss what wagyu is by definition, the difference between wagyu, washu, and Kobe beef, the grading program to guarantee wagyu’s quality on your plate, why wagyu’s fatty marbling is not bad for you, and much, much more!!!
Ramen Lord’s New Chapter: His Own Ramen Shop Akahoshi Ramen
Our guest is Mike Satinover, the chef/owner of Akahoshi Ramen in Chicago, which opened in November 2023.
Mike joined us on Episode 280 in November 2022 and shared his fascinating story of how a young man who grew up in Chicago got into Japanese culture, ended up living in Japan, and discovered the profound world of ramen.
Among ramen connoisseurs and aficionados, Mike has been known as Ramen Lord on Reddit and Instagram. He has been generously sharing valuable knowledge and educating whoever wants to learn about ramen so that they don’t have to find out how to make a good bowl on their own.
Ramen has become very popular in the U.S. in the last two decades or so, arguably becoming a part of American food culture. Akahoshi Ramen has been gaining huge attention since its opening and represents the potential of ramen as a global cuisine beyond a Japanese traditional noodle dish.
On this episode, we will discuss how Mike got into ramen, why he decided to quit his successful job as a market research analyst to open a ramen shop, the challenges he has faced in opening and running a ramen shop in Chicago, the soulful ramen he offers at Akahoshi Ramen and much, much more!!!
Dassai Blue: The American Brewery By Japan’s Biggest Sake Brand Aims To Exceed Its Parent
Our guest is Kazuhiro Sakurai, the 4th generation and CEO of Asahi Shuzo, the maker of Dassai sake. Dassai is the biggest export brand of Japanese sake. Kazuhiro joined us on Episode 233 in July 2021 and shared the unique sake-making philosophy of the company, as well as why Dassai became so popular globally.
In September 2023, Asahi Shuzo opened its first overseas brewery Dassai Blue in upstate New York. But it is not another brewery producing the same sake as in Japan to save costs. Dassai Blue aims to exceed its parent brewery in Japan.
On this episode, we will discuss why the company decided to open a brewery in New York, the goal of Dassai Blue, the special ingredients Dassai Blue uses to express the local terroir, its collaboration with the Culinary Institute of America, and much, much more!!!
America’s Best Sushi Made in the Meat Kingdom
Our guest today is David Yoshitomo Utterback, the chef/owner of Yoshitomo in Omaha, Nebraska.
Japanese sushi has become a big part of American food culture. The presence of many great non-Japanese sushi chefs in the U.S. proves that sushi does not belong only to Japan. These chefs serve to inspire the tradition and help push it further.
David is a classic example of one of these chefs. He was nominated for Best Chef: Midwest by the James Beard Foundation in 2023, and this year, his restaurant Yoshitomo has been nominated for the 2024 Outstanding Restaurant Award by the Foundation as a semifinalist (the results of this competition will be announced on June 10th in Chicago). Also, the Washington Post named Yoshitomo one of America’s best sushi restaurants in December 2023.
On this episode, we will discuss how David got into the world of sushi, how he studied sushi-making in Omaha, Nebraska (where beef is king), his original sushi that merges the tradition and American-style umami, his collaborations with Japanese sushi chefs, and much, much more!!!
Photo courtesy of Joshua Foo.
Stubbornly Serving Sustainable Sushi in New York
Our guests are Jeff Miller, the chef/owner of Rosella and Bar Miller in the East Village in NYC, and James Dumapit, the executive chef at Bar Miller. They both worked at Uchiko in Austin, Texas, which is one of the most influential sushi restaurants in America. In 2017, Jeff opened Mayanoki, the first sustainable sushi restaurant in New York, with his business partner TJ Provenzano. They joined us on Episode 129 to discuss their unique philosophy. Since then, their business evolved into Rosella, which earned many accolades and was named one of the Best New Restaurants in America by Esquire Magazine in 2021. James joined Rosella shortly after its opening.
In September 2023, the team opened Bar Miller, the 8-seat Omakase-only sushi bar where James leads the entire sushi bar with a pleasant energy and offers exciting culinary discoveries. Along with the expansion of the team’s business, Jeff has been deepening his knowledge and experience of serving sustainable sushi.
On this episode, we will discuss the meaning and importance of sustainable sushi, the overlooked delicious and sustainable seafood you should try, the challenges and advantages of running sustainable sushi restaurants, and much, much more!!!
Photo courtesy of Melissa Hom.
The Fascinating Life of a Japanese Private Chef In America
Our guest today is Isao Yoshimura, a private chef based in New York. Isao grew up in the countryside of Japan and came to New York in 1996 where he jumped into the restaurant industry, when authentic Japanese restaurants were still few and far between.
His approach to Japanese cuisine is traditional, but his work reflects his free, creative adaptive mindset. For example, he fishes and grows produce by himself to achieve the best taste and flavors he wants to offer to his clients.
In this episode, we will discuss how a young man from Japan became a private sushi chef in New York, his unique philosophy of cooking authentic Japanese food, the joy and challenges in his life as a private chef in America, and much, much more!!!
So wonderful to learn about all the Japanese foods I love and more!
From the moment I started listening, I found myself learning about Japanese foods and places I love - like the original Ramen Burger from Smorgasburg, Tsukemen, Shalom Japan - and so much more. This is both so relevant and informative!
Lots of Learning!!!
Even you are Japanese, why don’t you listen this program for your understanding to foods and ingredients correctly?
Akiko is a first class interviewer, has great guests on but she’s always able to draw the best and most interesting things out of them.