A taste of Japan KONDO SHOTEN CO.,LTD.

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Category: Japanese Food

Beyond sushi

For many people around the world, the first element of Japanese culture they think of is the food. With sushi and tempura being household names across the globe, people love Japanese cuisine for its subtle and mild flavor and its minimalist approach to fresh seafood. But the majority of international diners know little about what Japanese people really eat on a day-to-day basis. Beyond the well-known iconic dishes, Japan has much more to offer. Fisheries company Kondo Shoten Co., Ltd. is determined to introduce the world to another dimension of Japanese cuisine.

Kondo Shoten CEO Kazutaka Kondo

The shores of Kamaishi

The business

Kondo Shoten specializes in the production and sale of seafood with an emphasis on pre-cooked, vacuum-packed frozen food. Aptly, the company and its factory are located in the port town of Kamaishi in Iwate Prefecture. There, they overlook the Sanriku coast, whose waters are bountiful with fish and shellfish, namely salmon, mackerel, Japanese yellowtail and Pacific saury. These fish are the mainstays of Kondo's output.

"Fish from the Sanriku ocean region are very rich in flavor," says CEO Kazutaka Kondo. "Currents from the north and south meet here, carrying salt from their respective areas. The mixture of these minerals results in this taste."

The process

The fish, freshly caught by local fishermen, are instantly run through various machines at Kondo Shoten's factory. They're thoroughly washed, deboned and processed. The cleansed fish are then forwarded for cooking by veteran chefs, many of whom have been culinary professionals for over three decades.

Finally, they're frozen and packed using minimal but effective freezing procedures to preserve maximum freshness. Only then are they sent out to Kondo Shoten's varied clientele, ranging from shops selling bento (ready-made lunch boxes) to nursing homes and also distributed to upscale businesses, such as hotels and department stores.

While Kondo Shoten also distributes raw fish and dried seafood, its range of frozen products has gained more popularity due to its variety of flavors-including shioyaki (seasoned with salt), teriyaki, kabayaki (broiled with sweet soy-based sauce) and saikyoyaki (marinated with miso)-and the prolonged shelf life.

"Our frozen fish can last for about one and a half years, making it ideal for export," Kondo points out. "Effective sealing also ensures the product doesn't give off any odor, which is especially useful for fish like the saury."

Furthermore, the ease with which the fish can be prepared, either by microwaving the products or boiling the packs for a few minutes, has also added to its appeal among consumers.

Kondo-brand cooked salmon

Kondo's delicious fish is highly recommended by overseas clients

The dream

In recent years, Kondo Shoten has begun exporting overseas to China and South Korea, and is working toward expanding into Southeast Asia. But the move isn't all about business. The CEO sees it as a step toward introducing the world to another side of Japan.

"I want to present to the world Japan's 'grilled fish' culture," Kondo professes. "Our style of grilled fish has a refreshing, subtle flavoring that suits the Japanese aesthetic very well, and we want to let others experience this."

"More than anything, we want to spread the taste of Japan."