The certification program of Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Stores Overseas
Interview of Suppoter Stores JAPAN RAIL CAFE
Information dissemination site where Japan lovers in Singapore often visit
Japanese local cuisine and culture featured monthly are popular.
Oasis for Japan fans to take a breather with “exactly the same quality provided in Japan”
The East Japan Railway Company Group opened “JAPAN RAIL CAFE” in 2016 as a site to attract inbound tourists, with the concept of “a place that offers an opportunity to experience Japan and exchange information among Japan fans,” targeting Singaporeans who love Japan. Located on the ground floor of the tallest building, "Tanjong Pagar Centre," in the heart of Singapore's business district, the cafe is overcrowded every day with many business people and Japan fans who visit there seeking Japanese culture. "The taste of each dish served here remains the same even if the cooking staff change, as the ingredients are accurately measured and cooked based on the same operation manual as in Japan. We always serve the same quality of food,” said Mr. Jun Kobayashi, General Manager. He added, “I think about 90% of our customers are locals. Most of them are in their 20s and 30s who like Japan and have been to Japan three or four times." The cafe also functions as a hangout with a lot of events where Japan lovers get together and enjoy themselves. At Niigata Fair, a skiing/snowboarding experience event using snow mats was held with the cooperation of GALA Yuzawa Ski Resort. He also recalled, satisfied with positive responses from customers, “At the Shizuoka Fair, we made a plan to grate and eat wasabi or Japanese horseradish, a specialty of Shizuoka, and promoted wasabi while introducing a wasabi mayo burger.” Bright-eyed and eager, he said, “I would like to plan a Japanese festival and an athletic meeting where families are able to participate together by making full use of the spacious event space in front of the store.”
Staff fluent in Japanese and “obsessed with Japanese culture” welcome you
"JAPAN RAIL CAFE" runs a monthly campaign featuring a region in Japan and disseminates information about attractions of the region, hoping that their customers will have a deeper and sustained interest in Japan. The staff who are big Japan fans have a lot of things to talk about because they are learning a wide range of Japanese culture, such as tea ceremony, calligraphy, and pottery. They enthusiastically give you highly recommended information. In addition, there are full-time specialist staff in the store to help you plan your itinerary for your trip to Japan. There is also a travel counter that sells rail passes. The cafe has a good reputation from regular customers, receiving feedback such as "I am very happy because the staff are kind enough to tell me about Japan," and "It's a cafe with an unprecedented concept, which gives me a fresh feeling. And food is also very good.”
“Highlighting ingredients and slightly hiding rice” is Singaporean-style.
“WATASHINO CURRY RICE” (S$18) is a popular dish among regular customers, who assure that the curry here has the same taste as Japanese curry and is the best curry in Singapore. It is a hearty dish with crispy fried chicken, salad, and a sunny-side up egg over ten-grain rice. In Singapore where Indian-style curry is mainstream, mild spicy Japanese curry with chunky pieces of vegetables and meat is very popular. The ratio of rice and curry is 5:5 in Japan, however, in Singapore, meat is preferred and carbohydrates play a supporting role, so the dish is served with the ingredients placed on rice. The cafe uses rice produced in Japan such as Iwate Prefecture, mixes with 10 kinds of grains and cooks them in a luxurious way.
Research on the needs of Singaporeans at the product sales corner
"As here is a place where Japan fans get together, we provide store shelves to Japanese local governments and manufacturers that promote new products to allow them to use it as a space to carry out research on the needs of Singaporeans. During the fair featuring a region, we sometimes sell products focusing on local ingredients related to the region. At commercial areas inside stations in Japan, products are sold focusing on themes such as ‘Setouchi Lemon (snacks, drinks, and jams made using Setouchi Lemons and the introduction of the Setouchi region,’ ‘Sakura (Sakura rusk, Sakura bread, Sakura tea, and information on cherry blossom viewing),’ ‘Grape (raisin bread, wine, and jelly),’ and so on. We will continue to create a new value by featuring various themes," said Mr. Kobayashi.