Restau­rant chain shows its sushi roots

China Daily (USA) - - DINING | LIFE - By CHI­NADAILY

Hav­ing won the open­ing auc­tion for bluefin tuna at Tsuk­iji’s first fish mar­ket of the year for four years in a row, Ita­mae Sushi is now look­ing for glory from long ago.

The com­pany has opened around 60 restau­rants in Ja­pan, theChi­nese main­land and Hong Kong, Sin­ga­pore and In­done­sia — op­er­at­ing Ita­cho Sushi out­lets in Beijing, Shang­hai, Guangzhou, Shen­zhen, Tian­jin, and Guang­dong prov­ince’s Fos­han and Zhuhai.

Nowit’s hop­ing that global fans will come to ex­pe­ri­ence the cul­ture­an­dart of theEdo pe­riod (1603-1868), which “brought sushi to life”, at its brand-new con­cept restau­rant in Tokyo.

“Dur­ing this pe­riod, sushi was born from food stands,” says the com­pany’s Clau­dia Sun. “Food is one of the things that sup­ported the evo­lu­tion of Edo. Food items came to­gether at Tsuk­iji, and thus present-day Tokyo was formed, and be­came a city where many peo­ple gath­ered.”

The Ita­mae Sushi Edo restau­rant, which is modeled af­ter the sajiki-seki box seat­ing in a kabuki the­ater, fea­tures an in­te­rior de­sign that con­veys the feel­ing of Ja­panese tra­di­tion through el­e­ments such as Ja­panese panel screens and ukiyo-e paint­ings. “Edo Food Stand” ar­eas fea­ture in­gre­di­ents care­fully se­lected from all around the coun­try, and guests can en­joy watch­ing a live per­for­mance where Ita­mae chefs pre­pare meals on the spot, us­ing the food and cook­ing style of each guest’s choice.

In the Edo pe­riod, sushi was lined up in wooden boxes called neta-bako. In­spired by this tra­di­tion, the food stands line up neta-bako in neat rows, al­most as if they were part of a pic­ture, fea­tur­ing foods care­fully se­lected from all over Ja­pan. This col­lec­tion of neta-bako makes for an at­mos­phere like a “Lit­tle Tsuk­iji” where sea­sonal foods from all over Ja­pan come to­gether. Guests can choose the food of their pref­er­ence and also or­der from a wide range of prepa­ra­tion styles, in­clud­ing sushi, sashimi, sauteed, steamed and boiled.

Sun says the restau­rant is unique and cre­ated not only to ap­peal to Ja­panese cus­tomers, but also for­eign guests vis­it­ing Ja­pan, who are pro­jected to ex­ceed 40 mil­lion in 2020 and 50 mil­lion in 2025, ac­cord­ing to the Ja­panese Na­tional Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion. The pho­to­genic in­te­rior de­sign, ex­pe­ri­ence­din­ing and a col­or­ful menu are de­signed to in­spire guests to take pic­tures and share them via SNS, in an ef­fort to spread Ja­panese cul­ture — and par­tic­u­larly sushi cul­ture — around the world.

The restau­rant opens on Thurs­day, com­bin­ing Ja­pan’s fa­mously fresh seafood with the tra­di­tional tech­niques the coun­try’s sushi masters have in­her­ited from the past. It also of­fers a wide se­lec­tion of Ja­panese sake care­fully se­lected from all around the coun­try.

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