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!
The First Sake Brewery in Mexico
Our guest is Matthieu Guerpillon, the Marketing Manager & Brand Ambassador of NAMI, the first sake brewery in Mexico.
Japanese sake has been produced outside of Japan in recent years, and it is very exciting to see that there is a sake brewery in Mexico, which is the home of excellent beer and spirits such as tequila and mezcal!
NAMI is not just the first sake brewery in Mexico. Their products have proved to be outstanding. For example, The International Sake Challenge, which is an annual event held in Tokyo to recognize the best sakes in the world, has awarded the Gold, Silver, and Bronze prizes to NAMI’s sake.
In this episode, we will discuss how NAMI was born, how the all-Mexican team found a Japanese mentor to make premium sake, the unique terroir of Mexico, how to pair sake with Mexican flavors, and much, much more!!!
Bridging The Tea Ceremony And Your Daily Tea Habit
Our guest today is Ryo Iwamoto, who is the founder and CEO of TeaRoom based in Tokyo.
Ryo began studying tea 15 years ago at the age of 9 and now he is a certified instructor of the Japanese tea ceremony. He even has a special name that is only given to outstanding tea practitioners.
Ryo founded TeaRoom in 2018 while he was still a student at the prestigious Waseda University to inspire the world with the power of Japanese tea culture.
In this episode, we will discuss how Ryo got into the world of tea at such a young age, the essence of Japanese tea culture he has been passionate about, how tea can help us to make the world a more caring and peaceful place, his various projects to make his vision come true including his eye-opening products to attract new tea drinkers, and much, much more!!!
A Film for Ramen Lovers: Come Back Anytime
Our guests today are John Daschbach, the director of the fantastic new documentary film Come Back Anytime, and Wataru Yamamoto, the producer of the film.
Our mutual friend Yukari Sakamoto, who is an influential food specialist based in Tokyo, introduced me to the new film Come Back Anytime, or mata irasshai (またいらっしゃい) in Japanese. It premiered at DOC NYC, which is the largest documentary festival in America, and at the IFC Center in November 2021.
This documentary is about a ramen chef in Tokyo and the close-knit community of his regulars. It sounds simple but there was a lot to digest in your heart and mind. I suggest everyone watch it, especially in the current isolating social situation due to the pandemic.
In this episode, we will discuss why John and Wataru decided to make a documentary about a tiny ramen shop in Tokyo, the profound messages they hope to convey to the audience through the film, how ramen can be instrumental in community building, and much, much more!!!
Saving Vanishing Culture And Tradition
Our guest today is Kou Sundburg, who is the founder of Kiraku. Kiraku operates multiple projects that aim to preserve Japan’s rich cultural and natural heritage for future generations. Kou has a strong business background with a unique bi-cultural vantage point of the Japanese tradition.
Kou’s diverse projects include transforming abandoned machiya, or a traditional Japanese townhouse, in Kyoto into a Michelin-awarded luxury ryokan and reviving a sake brewery that was founded in 1793 but unfortunately shut down in 2012. Now the brewery became a micro-sake brewery to express the rich local terroir.
In this episode, we will discuss how Kou came up with the business to preserve Japanese culture and tradition, his intriguing projects of hotels and restaurants that you would want to experience on your next trip to Japan, how seriously Japan is losing cultural heritage, and much, much more!!!
Authentic Shochu Comes From Maryland, U.S.A.
Our guest is Takatsugu 'Taka' Amano who is the co-Founder and CEO of American Shochu Company based in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Shochu is a traditional Japanese spirit and it is more popular than Japanese sake in Japan. If you compare sake and shochu, 4.2% of liquor tax comes from premium sake, whereas 14.8% comes from shochu, according to the Japanese government’s data in 2019. But the number flips when it comes to overseas. In 2020, Japan exported about $212 million worth of premium sake but only $10.6 million of shochu was brought outside the country, which was just 5% of sake’s export.
It is a shame because shochu is as delicious and artisanal as premium sake. That is why Taka decided to introduce the charm of shochu to America by producing his own brand in 2015. He makes 100% barley shochu with his wife Lynn Amano in Maryland and they have already won the 2020 American Craft Spirits Awards.
In this episode, we will discuss why the successful biotech industry executive decided to produce the traditional Japanese spirit in America, how he studied shochu production techniques, how he produces his award-winning shochu with American ingredients in the climate of Maryland, why we should drink more shochu and much, much more!!!
Supplying Japanese Seafood Culture for 40+ Years
Our guest is Nobu Yamanashi, the director of Yama Seafood. Founded in 1980 by his father Kengo Yamanashi, Yama Seafood has been one of the most reliable sources of high-quality seafood in the U.S. for over 40 years.
Thanks to superior suppliers like Yama Seafood, our diet has shifted dramatically towards fresh seafood like sushi in the last decades.
For example, people used to be frightened by the idea of eating raw fish in the 1950s, but now $300 per person omakase sushi dinner is not unusual these days. And it is hard to find a supermarket that does not carry sushi. Without a doubt, sushi has become part of New Yorkers’ diet because of the stable supply of premium fish.
In this episode, we will discuss how Yama Seafood started when no one was buying specialty fish like tuna in the U.S., why Nobu decided to succeed in the highly demanding job in the seafood business, the changing needs for seafood in New York City dining scenes, why Yama Seafood has many employees who have worked for the company over 30 years, and much, much more!!!
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.
One of my favorite shows...
I’m a big fan of this show. Akiko brings the best and most interesting guests regarding Japanese cuisine and culture. I’m looking forward to every episode.
Knack for the obvious
Material has been covered often elsewhere over the years in various travel/食べ物 books. Though most guests are contemporaneous for the podcast generation. The guests are often cool but recent guy was a real tool, talking about himself while claiming to be humble.