The certification program of Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Stores Overseas
Interview of Suppoter Stores Deigo
Prestigious long-established restaurant where local customers can enjoy real Japanese food that is both “traditional” and “avant garde”.
Mexico City / Mexico
Inherited Aspiration to “Offer Full-scale Authentic Japanese Cuisine”
In a quiet residential area of Mexico City, Colonia Del Valle, houses a full-scale Japanese restaurant “Deigo” near Arboledas Park, where local people often go to relax.
A Japanese chef who used to work at the ex-Nikko hotel opened the restaurant in 1995, and in 2013 Mr. Yoshitake Yanagi, the current owner, acquired Deigo’s restaurant business.
Since its opening, both Japanese and Mexican chefs work hard every day to operate the restaurant based on Deigo’s concept of “Offering a Full-scale Authentic Japanese Cuisine.”
90% of the Deigo’s customers are Mexican, and the place is crowded with office workers during lunch hours and bustled with people from all ages at dinner time. The main customers on weekends and holidays are Mexican families. Besides paying a lot of attention to fresh and locally produced vegetables and sea food, they purchase and use a variety of products from Japan in line with their concept of “full-scale authentic Japanese food”.
Kobe Beef and Fresh Green Horse Radish (Wasabi) - Aspiration for Authentic Japanese Dishes
Yanagi, son of a Japanese father and a Mexican mother, was born and raised in Mexico City. He has kept keen interest in Japan, has a strong intellectual curiosity and adheres to the concept of “Authentic Japanese”. He says he still cannot forget the excitement he felt with his first bite of “Kobe Beef” when he visited Japan. After his returning, Deigo became the first restaurant in Mexico to offer Kobe Beef. Since then, they started to handle other Japanese ingredients as well. Deigo is always open to new challenges. They import fresh green radish (Wasabi) from Japan and grate it right before the customers’ eyes. The freshly grated aroma and sophisticated spiciness of Wasabi appeal not only to the palate of those customers in search of authentic flavors, but also to their sense of smell. It shows Yanagi’s uncompromising attitude towards authentic Japanese food.
“We are now considering importing Kurobuta pork (Berkshire pork) and Jidori chicken (Japanese native chicken breed) from Japan, and later on, fresh fish. Regarding Japanese whisky, I personally see it has more business opportunities than Sake. We receive lots of requests for Japanese whisky from our customers, but there are still few brands that we can import from Japan”.
I Want to Provide a "Visit to Japan" Experience at Deigo
There are many people who dream of traveling to Japan, since travel from Mexico to Japan is now more convenient than before thanks to new direct flights between Mexico City Airport and Narita Airport. The number of Japanese restaurants in Mexico has increased due to a growing interest in Japanese food and the boom of Anime and Manga. However, traveling to Japan is still economically unrealistic except for a limited number of wealthy people.
“At Deigo, I want to offer the experience of a simulated “Visit to Japan” through our services, food and space for those who cannot travel to Japan regardless of the reason. Therefore, I think it is necessary to order ingredients and beverages from Japan, in addition to improving the quality of food," says Yanagi. On the other hand, Deigo mixes locally procured fresh sea urchins and mackerels with Japanese ingredients, creating something unique that is only available at Deigo.
The Key to Success is Digital Marketing
If you look at Deigo's Instagram from your smartphone, you'll find lots of colorful, high-resolution photos and fascinating videos. Yanagi tells us "I think that in the future, 99% of restaurants will fail if they do not utilize digital marketing. Newspapers, television and magazines were effective communication means before, but social and digital media are used in all over the world now. Some may say that word-of-mouth is enough, but I don't think so. Social and digital media are indispensable tools to promote concept appeal and increase customer traffic”.
Deigo never stopped investing into digital marketing during the COVID-19 pandemic period. It spent 16 times more money on digital marketing than it did a few years ago. These investments have paid off, and surprisingly, the sales on August 2020 exceeded those of the pre-COVID sales. Even now, the recognition of the restaurant is increasing day by day. "Unlike big companies with affluent capital, we have a limited budget to invest. Still, we will continue to invest into digital marketing so that more people here will be aware of the Japanese food and products we offer, "says Yanagi.
We Want to Contribute Making Genuine Japanese Food More Recognized and Loved.
Mr. Yanagi says he is considering entering into the Japanese fast-food industry. COVID-19 significantly changed the business model surrounding "food”. He sees more business opportunity in increasing number of stores that specialize in Japanese fast food, such as Ramen shops, allowing you to finish your meal in a short time, than building a big restaurant. Yanagi says he wants to maintain high customer satisfaction without changing his belief of being authentic even when entering into a market similar to that of the fast-food industry.
Nowadays, most of the Japanese food you find in Mexico is what is known as "localized" Japanese food. Many Mexicans like sushi rolls with mango and cream cheese, and think that these are "real Japanese food". "It is not easy for many Mexicans to travel to Japan. For those Mexicans, I hope this “Supporter of Made-In-Japan Food Ingredients Certificate" may be a kind of guideline to help them to enjoy the authentic Japanese food comfortably and with ease. I really wish this certificate should be recognized more in all over Mexico. “By the way”, Yanagi continued with a smile. “I would like the Mexican Government to establish a “Supporter of Made-in-Mexico Food Ingredients Certificate”, to be widely spread in the USA and Japan as well. Mexican dishes, just like Japanese dishes, have a long tradition and they are delicious. But sometimes I have seen excessive localization in other countries”.