The certification program of Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Stores Overseas
Interview of Suppoter Stores SushiCo
Best Japanese food in the city where Europe and Asia meets
Istanbul / Turkey
A fine spirit in the heart of Istanbul
SushiCo Kalamış opened 7 years ago as a branch of Turkey’s first and largest far-east restaurant chain “SushiCo”. SushiCo is a 20 year old brand with 37 branches all over Turkey and has an extensive menu of Japanese, Chinese and Thai cuisine. SushiCo Kalamış is located right across the Kalamış Marina, one of the most beautiful marinas of Istanbul. Kalamış is a luxury residential neighborhood located on the Asian side of Istanbul. The neighborhood has been one of the favorite spots of Istanbulites since the second half of the 19th century. It attracts visitors from all over the city with its upscale restaurants and cafes.
Being located in one of the most popular neighborhoods of Istanbul, the restaurant has its own regulars and well-loved by local community. SushiCo Kalamış has a cozy and harmonious atmosphere. When you enter the restaurant, the majestic sushi bar instantly welcomes you. According to Özkan Keskin, the general manager of SushiCo, “The design of this restaurant sets an example for the others and the sushi bar reflects the core of Japanese culture.” With its impressive design, the restaurant is also a popular location for shootings of beloved Turkish television series.
The chef who made the first sushi roll for SushiCo
Japanese chef Yutaka Hoshino has been serving as the executive chef of SushiCo for the last 20 years since opening of the first SushiCo branch. As Keskin said: “We have a special and unique relationship with Yutaka. He has been living in this city for a very long time now, he knows the true essence of SushiCo and Turkish culture. He teaches sushi workshops which we organize every week for adults and sometimes for children.”
Traditional and top-notch food quality
Being the largest far-east restaurant chain in Turkey, SushiCo has its own supplier company “Bimak Gıda” in 2011, which imports the food to Turkey for the company from all over the world. SushiCo is supplied with about 70 percent of the foods and ingredients by Bimak Gıda. As Keskin said: “Our main focus is the quality of the products we use. We hand-pick every single ingredient and disregard the price. As a Turkish-cultural expression, we say that 'serve the dishes you yourself eat' which means what you yourself can not eat, you should not serve to the others. When we began our journey, it was hard for us to have the original Asian food we wanted because we relied on different importers for different products. But now through Bimak, we mainly import the products by our decision which gives the advantage of keeping the quality of the products and be sustainable. Now, we dominate the market and bring the traditional ingredients to serve our customers the finest quality.” The restaurant changes its menu every 6 months in order to introduce different types of tempting far-east food items.
The restaurant uses local suppliers for essential food like red meat, vegetables, flour, sugar, etc. The chicken, the brand of “Sakura Chicken” comes from the Aegean part of the country but the company has a well-known Japanese partner. Considering the enthusiastic and exclusive customer profile, SushiCo Kalamış has a carefully selected wine and alcoholic beverages menu. Keskin underlines that they always feature the sake in the menu. The restaurant has Gekkeikan Sake and handles in different brands of sake like Haiku, Ozeki and Black & Gold from time to time. “When our customers learn that sake is made by fermenting rice, you can see an immediate shock reflecting on their faces. Because in our culture, we only use rice to make pilaf. 90 percent of the time they decide to try the sakes and always come back to have more.”
Turkey’s first Japanese food supplier & a proud Japanese cultural ambassador
Last year, in order to serve high quality soy sauce to Turkish people, SushiCo imported the world-famous soy sauce with a 320 year old history, Shibanuma Soy Sauce to Turkey. This act not only upgraded the taste of the food, but also increased the reputation of the restaurant globally. Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan issued the “Japanese Food Supporter” certificate to SushiCo for promoting the food culture and food products of Japan. There are only 3.075 restaurants and 1.327 retail shops in the world which have this certification. SushiCo is the first restaurant in Turkey with this certification and became one of the very few verified Japanese restaurants in the world. The restaurant has a very important role in representing and promoting the Japanese culture and cuisine in Turkey.
A delicious dream: “Istanbul Roll”
Having 20 years of experience with Japanese cuisine, SushiCo and its chefs decided to invent a special sushi roll for Istanbul and the roll instantly became the most popular item on the menu. The roll has shrimp tempura, avocado, mayonnaise, cucumber and masago inside, covered with fried crispy salmon and teriyaki sauce. What’s interesting about Istanbul roll is that the chefs fry the sushi before serving. Keskin mentions that this is where the localization of the cuisine begins. “Turkish people were a bit afraid of eating raw fish at first. So, we decided to meld the cultures and added fried sushi in our menu and it became a hit. We started promoting Istanbul Roll all over the world. The taste is exquisite and we want Istanbul Roll to be globally recognized.”