The certification program of Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Stores Overseas
Interview of Suppoter Stores IZARIYA-Madrid
Kaiseki Restaurant from Kochi Prefecture
“Aims at Offering the Dishes with Seasonal Ingredients”
Madrid / Spain
In Madrid, customers can enjoy the same dishes that are provided in Japan
Izariya, a Kaiseki (Japanese haute cuisine) restaurant chain from Kochi prefecture, opened their fourth restaurant, “IZARIYA-Madrid,” in Spain in 2016, following the ones in Kobe and Ginza. The president and chef, Mr. Masahito Okazoe, who is from Kochi prefecture says, “(At the Madrid branch) customers can enjoy the same dishes that we provide in Japan.
” As of August 2017, three Japanese chefs who were trained in Japan, including Mr. Okazoe, prepare dishes. The ingredients from Japan include dried kelp (kombu) and dried bonito flakes used to make dashi, an essential stock in Japanese cooking, along with sake, vinegar, pickled ume plum (umeboshi), Japanese horseradish (wasabi), perilla (ohba), arrowroot (kuzu), and other local produce from Kochi prefecture.
Kaiseki meal has attracted Spanish people
According to Mr. Okazoe, “Most customers come for the Kaiseki course meal, and not many order à la carte.” For lunch, they offer three types of set meals (teishoku) for 19.80, 28.80, and 39.80 euros each, as well as a course meal for 48 euros. Among them, the most popular is the set meal for 28.80 euros, which includes assorted sashimi, this month’s special, braised Iberian pork belly (kakuni), tempura, steamed rice, and dessert (either coffee, tea, or homemade ice cream). For dinner, monthly Kaiseki meal (65 euros) consisting of 12 dishes is the most popular. Furthermore, customers especially enjoy the counter seats from which they can see the chef cooking. As the waiters/waitresses serve the dishes, they always explain the dishes and ingredients, and how to enjoy Japanese food. In some cases, they even show the real ingredients such as dried kelp (konbu) and dried bonito flakes (kezuribushi)
The restaurant is popular for its traditional Japanese cuisine
Mr. Okazoe thinks the restaurant attracts many customers because “it makes you feel as if you were in Japan.” At Izariya, they offer the real Japanese Kaiseki meal consisting of the dishes for each season. Commenting on the Japanese restaurants in Madrid, Mr. Okazoe says, “Many restaurants offer Japanese fusion dishes that Spanish chefs create based on the Spanish cuisine. They are good but not quite Japanese.” In fact, in Madrid, only a small number of restaurants offer traditional Japanese food as Izariya does. They say that very few restaurants except for Izariya use the soup stock that is made only from the selected dried kelp (konbu) and dried bonito flakes (kezuribushi) and that does not contain MSG at all.
Maria, a waitress, recommends the scattered sushi (chirashi-zushi), saying, “In Madrid, sushi means a bite-size oval-shaped rice ball topped with some seafood (nigiri-zushi) or a sushi roll (maki-zushi). Although it is not well known yet, I would especially like the customers to try chirashi-zushi to enjoy various toppings such as tuna, salmon, salmon roe, and egg in one dish.”
Ingredients from Japan are essential
At Izariya, main ingredients such as vegetables, meat, and fish are from Spain, while the soup stock made from Japanese dried kelp (konbu) and dried bonito flakes (kezuribushi) is used for all the dishes, as previously mentioned. According to Mr. Okazoe, ingredients from Japan are “more of a necessity to bring out our own taste, than an advantage.”
The restaurant introduces the Japanese sake from Tosa region in Madrid
The restaurant currently offers the Japanese sake from 18 sake breweries in Kochi prefecture, formerly called Tosa and known for its good water quality. Sake breweries in Kochi prefecture cooperate to improve the quality of their sake, and as a result, brands such as tosatsuru, kikusui, shiragiku, tsukasabotan, and fujimusume have won gold prizes at the Annual Japan Sake Awards. “While I can find tasty Japanese sake across Japan, I only offer the sake from the selected production areas as I increase my knowledge, in order to express my own cuisine,” says Mr. Okazoe. Those who order wine and those who order sake are almost fifty-fifty, and for now, only a few customers order the specific sake brands. The restaurant recommends the sake suitable for the ordered dish, among the already opened sake bottles, so they will finish the sake bottle while it is still good, or within approximately ten days after opening it.
“I would like to use more seasonal ingredients.”
Wagyu, a Japanese beef, which is slightly more fatty than a Spanish beef, is char-grilled and seasoned with wasabi and salt, and it is widely appreciated by Spanish customers. Mr. Okazoe says, “It is ideal to procure high-quality ingredients such as rice, sake, and live fish from Japan, but at the same time, we would like to keep the distribution cost, which is passed on to the customers as low as possible. Personally, I hope more condiments become available.” Currently, Izariya uses the soy sauce that Japanese companies produce in Europe, and Mr. Okazoe sometimes wishes if he could use the soy sauce from the brewery that he uses in Japan. Apart from condiments, he also hopes to use Japanese seasonal vegetables. Mr. Okazoe wishes to see more varieties of import items, saying, “It would be even better if we could have seasonal ingredients such as Japanese summer vegetables, matsutake mushrooms for autumn flavor, and edible wild plants for spring flavor. Japanese cuisine offers a lot of seasonal dishes, and I would like to introduce such dishes to Spanish customers.”