The certification program of Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Stores Overseas

Interview of Supporter Stores SEIKI SUSHI

A chef who continuously satisfied customers’ tastebuds with his superb sushi making skills in New York and Miami has now made a foray into Colombia, his new frontier, to breathe new life into the country’s culinary scene

Bogota / Colombia

A well-known Japanese restaurant serving authentic Japanese dishes in Colombia

In Bogota, the capital of Colombia, there stands a restaurant with a noren curtain hanging in its doorway along an alley in a quiet quarter within some 15 minutes’ walk from the city’s financial district lined with the Embassy of Japan, the Colombian Securities Exchange and other important buildings. The restaurant is SEIKI SUSHI, a well-known Japanese restaurant in Colombia that embodies the spirits of authentic Japanese cuisine. Its chef-owner, Mr. Seiki Yamada, received professional training in a culinary school in Fukuoka. After becoming a certified cook, he started to work for a sushi restaurant, a branch of the famous sushi restaurant in Tsukiji, to learn the art of sushi making.

After completing his stint in the restaurant, Yamada moved to the United States to work at a Japanese restaurant in New York City’s Midtown and then Zuma, a classy sushi restaurant in Miami, making finest sushi that fascinated his clienteles all the while. While working in the U.S., he got to know a Colombian person who offered to become Yamada’s business partner. With this person’s support, in 2016, Yamada opened a Japanese restaurant named after himself in the northern part of Bogota. One year after the opening, his restaurant was relocated to the current location that is quite close to the area lined with representative offices of Japanese companies and embassies of various countries and to the city’s high-end residential areas.

Struggles in finding Japanese food ingredients

“At first, I struggled to find the ingredients I wanted such as seasonings and vegetables produced in Japan,” Yamada said as he recalled the early days of his life in Bogota. As Bogota is located some 2,600 meters above sea level in the country’s highlands, he also had a hard time finding fresh seafood. Nevertheless, he kept on looking for suppliers who can procure quality food ingredients and, little by little, he managed to add such suppliers to his list. Yamada also asked the suppliers to procure Japanese ingredients that they had never dealt with before so as to expand the list of ingredients that he can use in SEIKI SUSHI.

Catching the fancy of Colombian customers with Chef’s Special Course of uncompromising quality

SEIKI SUSHI offers a wide range of Japanese dishes including nigiri zushi, maki zushi, makunouchi bento (lunch box containing rice and assorted Japanese dishes) as well as ramen, udon and soba noodles, katsudon (a bowl of rice topped with a deep-fried pork cutlet cooked with egg in a soy sauce-based sweet and salty soup) and oyakodon (a bowl of rice topped with chicken, egg and vegetables cooked in a soy sauce-based sweet and salty soup). In addition to these popular household dishes, Yamada also offers the Chef’s Special Course comprising six authentic Japanese dishes starting from appetizer to dessert, all of which are carefully thought out and cooked with the best possiblefood ingredients. The purpose of this course is to give Colombian people an opportunity to experience the traditional, full-fledged Japanese cuisine.

Although some ingredients used in sauces and desserts served in his restaurant are made in Colombia, there are quite a few seasonings and ingredients Yamada always makes sure that they are made in Japan in order to make his dishes as close as possible to the ones served in Japanese restaurants in Japan. As for the food ingredients that cannot be found in Colombia, he sometimes procures them by using the connections he made while working in New York and Miami. Due to these extra efforts, the prices of the dishes served at SEIKI SUSHI are a bit expensive for ordinary people in Colombia. But Yamada is optimistic, saying confidently, “My restaurant has successfully differentiated itself from other sushi and Asian food restaurants run by Colombians by having let locals to taste traditional, authentic Japanese dishes that are not rolled sushi or ramen noodles while continuing to offer unique and high-quality dishes that can be made only by me.” SEIKI SUSHI has always offered its customers Japanese dishes and sushi that are worlds apart from “pseudo-Japanese food” served widely in Colombia by cooking them by faithfully sticking to the basics of Japanese cuisine. Because of this attitude, the restaurant has become embraced by many Colombian people.

Recently, he started offering Japanese seasonal delicacies related to Japan’s traditional festivals including setsubun (Bean-throwing festival in February), hinamatsuri (Doll’s festival in March) and kodomonohi (Children’s Day in May), hoping to make his restaurant a place for customers to enjoy not only Japanese cuisine but also the traditional culture of Japan.

Introducing locally unfamiliar Japanese food and ingredients to Colombia

About the Japanese Food Supporter certification his restaurant obtained, Yamada said, “I am certain that this certification will give SEIKI SUSHI credibility as a Japanese restaurant customers can rely on when they want to have good Japanese food. This kind of certification will be helpful not only to Colombian people but also foreigners visiting Colombia.”

In the future, Yamada hopes to start using Japan’s indigenous vegetables such as renkon (lotus root), takenoko (bamboo shoot), konnyaku (yam cake), enoki and shimeji mushrooms. He also intends to increase the variety of Japanese sake and shochu beverages in hist restaurant and hold sake-tasting events by inviting sake sommeliers. As a pioneer of genuine Japanese cuisine in Colombia, SEIKI SUSHI will continue to deliver the authentic taste of Japanese food to Colombian people.

List of shops

Carrera 6 #58-43, Bogotá, Colombia
+57-601-236-5728 site: a new window will open. site: a new window will open. site: a new window will open.