The certification program of Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Stores Overseas
Interview of Suppoter Stores TAMPOPO
Offering authentic Japanese dishes at reasonable prices
Family restaurant popular among locals and Japanese residents
Located in a large-scale shopping center, Liang Court, including a Japanese favorite supermarket, “MEIDI-YA,” and a large Japanese bookstore, "Books Kinokuniya,” "Tampopo" is a Japanese family restaurant offering a wide variety of menu options with three main menu items of ramen, sushi/sashimi, and tonkatsu (pork cutlet). They opened their first store in Singapore in 2004 and now have expanded to four stores in the island. Tampopo has grown into a popular restaurant where people are waiting in line at dinner time.
Actively using ingredients from Japan with stable quality
"As a result of continuing to place importance on quality and stable import of good ingredients, most of the ingredients we use in our restaurants are now from Japan," says Takaaki Takagi, Managing Director who himself chooses ingredients. Since opening the restaurant, he has actively visited Japan, looked for ingredients until he is satisfied, and committed to focusing on quality. As an example, the Japanese beef he has purchased is "Kyoto Beef MIYABI," a brand of Japanese beef raised at the Kyoto Tanba Ranch. Due to the limited production, it is a premium brand beef that is rarely marketed in other prefectures. As for noodles, they use the highest-grade Etanbetsu soba made from 100% buckwheat flour from Hokkaido, and use special noodles jointly developed with a manufacturer for ramen. They also use breadcrumbs for tonkatsu made of materials that can decrease the oil absorption rate by 30% compared to the normal rate, and they pay attention to health by deep-frying until crisp in 100% vegetable oil produced by a Japanese oil maker. Besides, they also import specially made soy source and vinegar from a long-established shop and a brewery, and thoroughly examine everything from food ingredients to cooking oil to seasonings.
With own three containers, importing straight from Japan for reasonable prices
Tampopo at Liang Court serves nearly 200 kinds of menu options at all times. Mr. Takagi proudly says, “We keep the prices reasonable by directly importing ingredients.” They have their own three containers and import ingredients by air four times a week. The number of bluefin tuna purchased straight from Japan reaches as many as 100 per year.
In addition, he utilizes the network of a sake brewery run by his family in Gifu Prefecture to import sake in partnership with sake breweries in the Hida region, and also sells Japanese ingredients at one corner of the restaurants. They hold a sales event and sell grapes produced in Yamanashi Prefecture when they are in season in order to differentiate their restaurants from others. Mr. Takagi said, “The fresh vegetables and fruits shipped by air are very popular because of their wide variety and freshness.”
"We would like to accurately convey what authentic Japanese food is like."
"Japanese food is originally healthy. However, in Singapore around 2004 when Tampopo first opened, Japanese food there was not always healthy. There used to be many Japanese restaurants that served what they called ‘Japanese dishes,’ but they used ingredients whose origin was not known, so they did not seem to be authentic,” said Mr. Takagi, looking back on that time. Although nearly 15 years have passed since the opening of their first restaurant, he has consistently thought that the important thing is to adhere to the basics of Japanese food and that he wants to accurately convey what authentic Japanese food is like.
Their dishes are not specially seasoned for Singaporeans, but he has chosen Japanese dishes that suit their tastes and put them on the menu. The most popular dish in the restaurants is the "Deluxe Tampopo Black Pig (Kurobuta) Shabu Ramen." They were the first to introduce Kurobuta before it was not recognized in Singapore. Tonkatsu is another popular menu item. "While providing the dishes that locals liked, the menu was naturally narrowed down to dishes, focusing on ramen, sushi/sashimi, and tonkatsu," he said with a smile and added quietly and passionately, "I think that my initial resolution and mission are to adhere to the basics of Japanese food."