The certification program of Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Stores Overseas
Interview of Suppoter Stores RISTORANTE GIAPPONESE OSAKA
Fascinating Milanese with a Wide Range of Japanese Dishes, from Ramen to Shabu-shabu
Milan / Italy
Restaurant Osaka, where you can savor a wide lineup of Japanese dishes
Restaurant Osaka opened in 1999, when Japanese cuisine in Milan was in its infancy. Deep in an arcade branching off from Corso Garibaldi in the Moscova area, downtown Milan, it opened as a Japanese restaurant serving ramen noodles and bistro-style dishes. At that time, most guests were Japanese. The restaurant was loved by Japanese companies’ representatives in Italy, who spread information about it through word-of-mouth communication, saying, “If you want to have ramen, visit Restaurant Osaka in Milan.” After that, with full-fledged Japanese cooks and sushi chefs who had trained themselves in Japan, as well as a sushi counter added to it, Restaurant Osaka became able to serve a wide variety of dishes, including sushi, Japanese dishes and ramen noodles, just as it is.
Most guests order sushi, sashimi, and gyoza dumplings, suggesting the established popularity of sushi after the sushi boom in Milan and growing public interest in Japanese food. Currently, Italians account for 80% of all guests, and, in addition to younger generations, senior citizens have begun to visit the restaurant to savor sushi and sashimi. The restaurant aims to provide both dishes and services in the authentic Japanese style. In the kitchen, six Japanese cooks, including the executive chef, work. In addition, three service staff, who have experience in serving guests at Japanese-style inns, play a leading role in serving guests with warm hospitality. The restaurant has enjoyed a good reputation among Italian guests, some of whom, while at the restaurant, feel as if they were in Japan.
Ms. Naoko Aoki as the busy manager and Mr. Osamu Ikeda as the executive chef who protects the authentic flavors of Japanese cuisine
Since Restaurant Osaka does not face any major street, few guests happen to visit it by chance. Most guests reach it through word-of-mouth communication. People at age 40 or below, who grew up while enjoying Japanese anime and manga, and those who have been to Japan for business or tourism have a certain level of knowledge about Japanese food, and desire to savor quite a high level of Japanese dishes. The restaurant has made such people regular guests and thus won an increasing number of fans. Although the restaurant is usually filled with Italian guests, it gets crowded with Japanese guests who are in Italy for business purposes in the spring and fall exhibition seasons. Such guests from Japan often express their gratitude for delicious Japanese dishes that enable them feel calm and relaxed when they begin feeling tired of foreign dishes. “Such words bring us great joy and great reward for our effort,” Ms. Naoko Aoki, the manager of the restaurant, says. She is always busy in struggling to secure competent staff and procure more excellent foodstuffs.
Ms. Aoki places total trust on Mr. Osamu Ikeda from Akita Prefecture, the executive chef of the restaurant. Mr. Ikeda moved to France soon after obtaining a cooking license in 1987, and worked at Benkei, the Japanese restaurant at Hotel Nikko in Paris. After that, he trained himself at Restaurant Osaka in Paris for 11 years, and became the executive chef of Restaurant Osaka in Milan in 2001. Taking advantage of his long cooking experience in Europe, he continues to protect the authentic flavor of Japanese cuisine while also using local Italian ingredients. He pays careful attention to selecting ingredients. The restaurant uses Japanese-produced products for most seasonings, seaweeds, such as nori, wakame and kelp, natto (fermented soybeans), pickles, and cooked adzuki beans to maintain high-quality flavors.
An extensive menu of Japanese beverages
The restaurant, featuring a Japanese-style interior design, has a well-polished counter with lacquered plates arranged neatly on it. Guests can enjoy having meals in a relaxed atmosphere. Tables are placed in the depth of the first floor and on the second floor to cater to the needs of group guests.
As one of the restaurants that began to serve sake earliest in Milan, Restaurant Osaka boasts a wide lineup of sake. The sake menu thoroughly explains the flavor and aroma of each sake variety, as well as the recommended way of savoring it, for example, hot or chilled. This menu is designed to enable even Italians to easily select from various sake. When an order is placed, the sake is poured into a glass placed in a masu (square wooden cup) until it spills out. This way of serving sake is also popular and highly reputed. Recently, a growing number of guests began choosing to have sake besides wine, while eating. In addition, the restaurant serves various kinds of shochu—made from sweet potatoes, from barley or from rice—in various styles—on the rocks, straight up, or with water. Ume plum liqueur also can be served as a digestif on request. Furthermore, a variety of Japanese-produced whiskeys, which are drawing increasing attention, are ready to be served to provide guests a wide choice of beverages.
Also serving hot pot dishes that bring out the rich flavor of black Wagyu beef from Joshu
The food menu features many photos so that guests can easily imagine what the dishes are like. The menu includes not only sashimi, nigiri-zushi and chirashi-zushi, but also tempura as a staple Japanese dish, vinegared mozuku seaweed with grated yam, boiled tofu, oden (a kind of Japanese hot pot), shaomai dumplings, and delicacies such as grilled mullet roe served with radish. The extensive menu also includes various hot pot dishes, as well as ramen and udon noodles, satisfying the needs of all Japanese food lovers. During the lunch hours, the restaurant serves daily set meals and other various affordable set meals, including a set meal with ramen and gyoza dumplings, which is popular among ramen fans.
If you order shabu-shabu or sukiyaki, you can choose from two varieties of beef: Italian-produced beef or marbled black Wagyu beef from the Joshu area (Gunma Prefecture), Japan. Although the price of Joshu black Wagyu beef is double the price of Italian-produced beef, the former features soft meat, a rich flavor and an excellent aroma, so is popular especially among gourmands. For these hot pot dishes, other Japanese-produced foodstuffs are also used, such as Malony (potato starch noodles) and Sanuki udon noodles, which are thrown in at the end. In addition to hot pots, Joshu Wagyu beef steak is also served.
Because guests understand that ingredients imported from Japan are precious, Japanese Food Supporter certification has high value.
All those working at Restaurant Osaka hope that Japanese herbs and spices—such as shiso spikes, benitade (knotweed), and aromatic yuzu, Japanese vegetables—including Japanese yam and burdock, edible wild plants—including udo and young Japanese angelica-tree leaves, will be delivered to Italy, because they play an important role in adding a Japanese touch to dishes even in small amount.