The certification program of Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Stores Overseas
Interview of Suppoter Stores Hokkaido Crab Premium Restaurants Okadaya
Feasting on Japanese-style Crab Dishes in a Festive Atmosphere
Refined Sake from All Over Japan Adds to the Appeal
Shanghai / China
Crab Specialty Restaurant from Aichi Prefecture
Hokkaido Crab Premium Restaurants Okadaya, which has nine stores in Shanghai’s main commercial areas including Xian Xia Road, Jing’an Temple, and Xujiahui, is a Japanese restaurant chain specializing in crab. Since opening its first restaurant in Xujiahui in 2015, it has continued to provide seafood, mainly crab dishes, Japanese dishes, and a rich array of Japanese sake, under the motto “enriching people’s lives through food.” The restaurant is favored by many, ranking 8th (as of July 26, 2017) in the Japanese food category of China’s gourmet website www.dianping.com
The business is run by the Shanghai subsidiary of The Monogatari Corporation, which is based in Aichi Prefecture and operates 422 stores. Mr. Masamichi Okada, who has supervised the Japanese food business of Monogatari Corporation in Japan, acts as the general manager and head chef. After receiving culinary training, he joined the corporation and worked as a head chef, store manager, and development representative. He started working for the Shanghai subsidiary in 2015, supervising the business as the face of the restaurant, head chef, and as a part of the development team.
The Interior Lined with Lanterns from Asakusa Evokes a Summer Festival
The theme of the restaurant is a Japanese summer festival. Lanterns of various sizes, a Taiko-bashi bridge, kawadoko-style seating, and various other decorations attract notice. Staff wearing yukata with tasukigake sashes beat the Japanese wadaiko drum and yell out “irasshaimase” when greeting customers. “I want the customers to enjoy the food and regional sake and to feel that they are visiting Japan when they are here,” says Mr. Okada. The trademark lanterns and noren curtains were order-made by craftspeople in Asakusa and the interior done by a Japanese designer. The pots, iron plates, crab scissors are from Tsubame City Niigata Prefecture, which is renowned for metalwork.
A Wide Variety of Japanese Sake
Japanese sake is becoming increasingly popular in Shanghai, and the main Japanese products on offer are the different varieties of alcoholic beverages. Japanese sake from all over Japan is stocked, including Manzairaku (Ishikawa Prefecture), Heianshishin (Kyoto Prefecture), Dassai (Yamaguchi Prefecture), Chiyonokame (Ehime Prefecture), and Niwanouguisu (Fukuoka Prefecture). In addition, its own original brand products have been developed through the collaboration with Aichi Prefecture’s Horaisen by Sekiya Brewery in Kitashitara District and Shikaio by Fukui Syuzo in Toyohashi-shi. There is a selection of umeshu plum wine, which is popular among women, from Yamamoto Shuzo and Amamioshima Nishikawa Syuzou (Kagoshima Prefecture), Ooyama Yume Kobo (Oita Prefecture), and Nakano BC (Wakayama Prefecture). Among them are rare beverages such as fruit umeshu from Fukuoka Prefecture. In addition to the sake and umeshu are shochu and whiskey bottles that line neatly on both sides of the entrance like a winery and entertain the customer gaze. According to Mr. Okada, “We can strongly present ourselves as a Japanese food specialist by offering a rich selection of sake an umeshu. In this way, we can also convey the appeal of Japan to the rest of the world.”
Appealing Cocktails and Casual Drink Sets
Umeshu, liquor, and cocktails have recently become popular among the younger generation. The restaurant is putting more efforts than ever into appealing to a new set of customers, namely female clients and the younger generation, by serving sake cocktails such as sparkling refined sake, Mio, with raw wasabi. Additionally, a new menu is currently being developed to promote Japanese sake and will contain new offerings like the “Kikizake Set,” which includes appreciating three types of sake such as Chitosetsuru (Hokkaido Prefecture), accompanied with chilly miso paste. Furthermore, for the opening of new restaurants, Okadaya holds a wadaiko show together with a sake event, in which sake from various breweries, including Horaisen, will be served as part of their efforts to promote Japanese sake and culture.
Services Developed Especially for Chinese Customers
The dishes themselves are Japanese, from sukiyaki-style crab to sashimi, but each portion is big, and sashimi is arranged on a large plate in a way familiar to the Chinese. Customers can also enjoy watching food cooked in front of them on heated stones or a charcoal grill. Cake flown in from Hokkaido is one of the dessert menus.
The General Manager in a Happi Coat Explains the Specials
The general manager of the L’Avenue branch is Mr. Xia Yan, who is good at making recommendations. He wears a happi coat and completes each task quickly and efficiently. With a good command of the Japanese language, he can explain the seasonal specials to both Japanese and Chinese customers. The menu in all the restaurants contains detailed Japanese, Chinese, and English explanations accompanied by images of Japanese festivals, conveying the culture and atmosphere of Japan. Okadaya also has an official WeChat account with almost 30,000 followers and conducts PR activities on Alipay online TV.
“We want to spread Japanese culture”
Going forward, “we want to serve Japanese beef, pork, chicken, and sake produced in regions that are prohibited from import. If the regulations change, we hope to start using these products,” states Mr. Okada. He is enthusiastic about the future: “Next year, we are opening our first restaurant outside Shanghai. We are also thinking about establishing a new business in Shanghai by the end of the year. Our hope is to spread Japanese culture to a wider region.”