The certification program of Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Stores Overseas
Interview of Suppoter Stores Izakaya GOEN
Authentic Regional Japanese Restaurant in a Corner of Mexico.
Leon / Mexico
To Anyone Who is Interested in "Real Japanese Food"
“GOEN” is an authentic Japanese restaurant located in Leon, the largest city in the State of Guanajuato, where automobile-related companies are concentrated. It opened its doors since 2018, under the concept of "Mi casa es tu casa" (literally, "my house is your house", a phrase unique to Mexico that expresses the Mexican hospitality opening their homes to friends). GOEN is very well-liked, both by local Mexican and Japanese customers who feel as relaxed as if they were in their own home, enjoying "heartfelt service" and "authentic Japanese food". "Compared to other Japanese restaurants in Leon, the prices are not economic, but they are not very expensive either as we would like to be a cost friendly bistro. Our door is open to all those who are interested in "real Japanese food", says Matsuda, GOEN's manager. Needless to say, the food must be delicious, and the Japanese and Mexican staff never stops embracing new approaches in a daily effort to continue finding ways to provide an authentic taste that makes you feel "in Japan".
We Want to Deliver "Authentic Japanese Taste" Without Compromise
"GOEN” prides itself to be the number one restaurant where people can enjoy real Japanese flavors in Guanajuato”, says Matsuda. Customers love GOEN for its wide range of food variation, from popular classic menus such as ramen, chicken nanban, yakisoba, and okonomiyaki to limited sales of creative dishes using tuna and eel. Even for a bowl of ramen, GOEN cooks it with great care from the initial stage of making ramen soup stock. It is not just a single product that mixes water, granule soup stock, and seasonings, but it offers daily taste of Japan sparing no time and effort.
Making the most of the presence of Japanese staff and Japanese chefs, Mexican employees who have never traveled to Japan are diligently trained to understand the actual taste, presentation and food culture of Japan. They send Mexican chefs to Japan for medium periods of time to gain experience by being in direct contact with local ingredients, services, and quality so that they may have more chance of acquiring an authentic technique. And this uncompromising human resource development has paid off, GOEN now offers food and services that are as good as those of restaurants in Japan. Mr. Uriel Enrique, who actually got a job opportunity at a restaurant in a hotel in Akita prefecture, said, "Through my valuable experience in Japan, I learned not only cooking techniques but also various cooking methods for fresh fish, as well as a real experience of the Japanese culture. I would like to make use of all my leaning in Japan for the further development of GOEN."
We would like to Provide an "Experience as if You Were in Japan"
Using ingredients produced in Japan is indispensable for providing "real Japanese food" in Mexico. For example, the yellowtail comes from the Kagoshima prefecture and is not served as sashimi only. It is also prepared in other ways, such as grilled yellowtail head, which is very popular, available only to the first few customers that order it. "Especially for menus like sashimi, where you want the customers to enjoy the ’actual flavor of the ingredient’, we use ingredients produced in Japan. It is easier to feel the umami, but also the customers can enjoy it as one of a kind experience", says Matsuda. At GOEN, not only the taste but also the "experience" is important. In a country far away from Japan, GOEN tries to provide the feeling of “being in Japan” to those who haven’t been there and a taste of home to its Japanese customers, all comfortably from their table in Mexico. This is GOEN’s belief since its opening, and as a result it has been attracting many customers.
GOEN goes the extra mile to provide a memorable and fun experience for Mexican customers by giving them a little taste of the Japanese culture and customs such as serving Rafute, a dish from Okinawa, providing locally organizing Tanabata festivals and serving Temari-zushi at those events, or holding tuna dismantling shows. In fact, a Mexican customer once visited GOEN as the special place he chose to propose to his girlfriend. It shows that this place is accepted by many as "a place to enjoy a special experience" and "a place to bridge Japan and Mexico".
Collaboration with Local Sake and Miso Paste Makers in the Hiroshima Prefecture
GOEN put a special attention on sake to make people feel the "real Japan". They usually do business with wholesalers in Mexico who handle high quality Japanese ingredients, but for sake, they specifically order it from the sake brewery in Guanajuato’s sister state, the Hiroshima prefecture. Sake is useful at GOEN because it makes it easy for people to feel the connection between Mexico and Japan. "By handling the special sake, we not only pair the dish that goes well with sake, but also we make people feel special as we offer sake that is not available in other restaurants. We recommend a glass of “Hakuko Special Junmai Sake” to the customers who like sashimi, and it often turned out they would like to order it by the bottle. It is a very popular, customer’s favorite sake at our restaurant”. Matsuda says. GOEN devises and sells dessert menus using amazake manufactured and sold by the miso maker "Masuyamiso" as well. They make daily efforts to have their customers enjoy Japanese ingredients produced in Japan, in various ways.
We Want to be the One to Spread Japanese Food Culture
“We feel that our certification as a Supporter of Made-In-Japan Food Ingredients is extremely beneficial in gaining the trust of our Mexican customers. This certification is not only a way to specifically express that we ’offer authentic Japanese food’, but also a symbol of our commitment to our mission as a provider, to offer always a taste of Japan", says Matsuda. Needless to say, the use of Japanese ingredients produced in Japan has been and will be an integral part of GOEN.
"For the future development of GOEN, I would like to make more use of Japanese fresh fish and beef. Ingredients produced in Mexico have limitations when it comes to the range of expression and quality. I feel that the presence of ingredients and alcoholic beverages produced in Japan are very important for spreading the Japanese food culture in Mexico, because Japanese food enjoys the ingredient itself. We also would like to have business with manufacturers and sake breweries that continue to produce fine products in order to give ‘a more special experience’ for our customers, not to mention products from major sake manufacturers. In a country where there are so many Japanese restaurants, I hope that by using ingredients produced in Japan, we can grow to a point where our customers can say with confidence, If you've eaten at GOEN, you know Japan”, said Matsuda with a smile.