The certification program of Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Stores Overseas

Interview of Supporter Stores SUSHIMAMA

Authentic taste created by a chef living in Slovenia for 14 years
An authentic Japanese restaurant in Slovenia

Ljubljana / Slovenia

Savor authentic Japanese cuisine at the heart of the old town

In the old town of Slovania’s capital Ljubljana, where there are many tourist attractions, you will find Sushimama. Sushimama serves Japanese cuisine using selected ingredients and is very popular not only among tourists but also local people. The chef, Hiroki Ishikawa, moved to Slovenia 14 years ago after living in Spain and other places. When he moved to Slovenia, few local people knew about Japanese cuisine, but in recent years high-end department stores in Slovenia sell Japanese whiskey, wagyu beef, seaweed, soy sauce, miso, and other seasonings. Ishikawa feels that awareness of Japanese food is steadily increasing and has high expectations for further increase in awareness of Japanese food. This time, Ishikawa is very excited about having certified as a Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Store. “Until now, we have not specifically stated on our menu that we are using Japanse food ingredients. I hope this certification will allow our customers to compare Japanese food and others and realize their high quality,” says Ishiakwa, enthusiasitically.

Sushi and a wide variety of Japanese dishes on the menu

The restaurant has a stylish and mature atmosphere, and as you enter, you will see a magnificent countertop found in sushi restaurants. The staff members are all lively and friendly, and kindly guide you to your seat. Sushi and sashimi are popular items in the menu. Chef Ishikawa proudly says that scallops from Japan served raw are very rare in Slovenia and popular among local people. He uses miso (bean paste) made in Japan. In summer, okra dressed with vinegared miso and grilled sea bass seasoned with a mixture of yuzu citrus juice and sweet-flavored miso are on the menu. The chef is also particular about sake. The local staff learn about sake on their own initiative and actively recommend sake they have chosen to the customers. As a result, the recognition and popularity of sake in the local market has been steadily increasing. “Sake is not easily available here, so it is difficult to get customers interested in sake unless we promote them. Our waiters play that role.”

Difficulty in obtaining fresh food

“To tell the truth, it would be great if we could use fresh ingredients, but due to logistics and other issues in Slovenia, it is quite difficult to obtain fresh tuna and other fresh food from within Europe.” In Europe, people do not eat fish raw, so logistics for fresh food has not been established as in Japan. Chef Ishikawa complains that Slovenia, a relatively small country in Europe, handles only a small amount of fresh food, making it difficult to develop distribution routes of fresh food. There are few direct flights from Japan, and it is only in the past few years that fresh food ingredients are delivered once every two weeks via distributors. To make matters worse, there are many stockouts due to COVID-19 at present, and sometimes he receives only half of the order.

Chef’s challenge will continue

The main customers are Slovenians and tourists. With the decline of COVID-19 infection cases, Slovenia is currently developing country-wide efforts to promote tourism and gourmet. Michelin Guide Inspectors have been coming in for the past two years, and Chef Ishikawa expects that the use of Japanese ingredients by chefs of local starred restaurants will further increase awareness of Japanese food. As a new initiative, the chef himself has also added Japanese wagyu beef to his menu. “Japanese wagyu beef is of higher quality and simply tastier than local beef, so I would like to use it and introduce Japanese culture along with food. I also hope that this will spark interest in Japan and encourage local people to travel to Japan.” Chef Ishikawa's challenge to spread the charm of Japan to as many people as possible will continue.

List of shops

Wolfova ulica 12, 1000 Ljubljana
+386 40 70 20 70 site: a new window will open.