Category Archives: Japanese Dining Room

French Gastronomy with Shizuoka Products at Tetsuya Sugimoto (Summer 2012)

Service: Highly professional and friendly
Facilities: Great overall cleanliness. Beautiful washroom
Prices: Appropriate
Strong points: Freshest produce and ingredients only, mainly from Shizuoka Prefecture. Organic vegetables, top-class Shizuoka-bred meat and Suruga Bay seafood. Seasonal food only.

Map (Japanese)

If one wants to know what could be possibly created as French Gastronomy with mainly Shizuoka products whatever the time of the year, Tetsuya Sugimoto in Shizuoka City must be the reference in spite of the fierce competition from like-minded chefs all over the Prefecture.
Since pictures and simple explanations are better than a long and heavy prose, let me relate you my visit for lunch the other day!

The entrance sports a great noren/Japanese entrance curtain bearing the name of the restaurant!

Tetsuya Sugimoto has just celebrated its 3rd Anniversary!
Have a good look at the blackboard for seasonal offerings.
If you can’t read Japanese, no worries. Chef Sugimoto will be glad to explain everything in detail with a rare passion!

Look at both sides of the blackboard!

Although Tetsuya does everything by himself from purchasing his ingredients to cleaning the place spotless every day he still finds the time to add his personal touch to the entrance!

All these decorative vegetables past the door are organic!

Poached “Bioran” egg (by Mr. Shimizu in Shizuoka City) and delicious Hokkaido urchin on a cold jelly soup made with vegetables and agar from Shizuoka prefecture!

Aji/Horse mackerel Tartare on organic tomato with amazu/sweet rice vinegar dressing!

The horse mackerel was caught in the Suruga Bay, the richest sea in Japan.
The flowers are edible and organic!

Serrano Jamon ham from Spain astride a green eggplant!

From another angle!

I felt like a voyeur when I took a picture of the green eggplant! LOL

Anago/Conger eel (a fish which made Western Shizuoka famous all over Japan) on zucchini and tomato and topped with zucchini parpadelle.
All vegetables are organic and local!

From another angle!
The sauce is balsamico-based.
Tetsuya went as far as deep-frying the conger eel backbone and place it between the fish and the tomato for an intriguing crunchy surprise!

Beef bred by Mr. Mineno in Hamamatsu City atop organic vegetables.
Testuya obtained this superlative meat after mmeeting the breeder in person in his farm!

The beef! Look at that color and texture! Extravagant!
The sauce is Banyuls wine based!

Always brace yourself before discovering desserts at Tetsuya Sugimoto!
There is always a surprise in store to throw you out of your seat!
This time:
Mousse cake made with passion fruit grown in Mariko, Shizuoka City.
The pips of the fruit were dried, grilled and crushed for the topping!
As for the ice cream it was made with porter beer crafted by Hamamatsu Tenjigura Brewery in Hamamatsu City!

Do I need more to say?

To be followed…

Tetsuya SUGIMOTO
420-0038 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Umeya,2-13,1F
Tel./Fax: 054-251-3051
Opening hours:11:30~14:30,17:30~21:30
Holidays: undecided (do make a call first!)
Credit cards OK
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)
Entirely non-smoking!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in kanzai by Nevitt Reagan!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

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A Japanese Tradition: Jouren/\-常連-Regular Customers

At Yasaitei,….

The Japanese are in perpetual search for harmony.
This constant pursuit of “wa/和” preoccupies them not only at the office with their fellow workers, at home with their family, but also, and probably most, when taking a pleasurable respite at the table or counter of their favorite restaurant or bar.

Whereas in many other countries patronizing the same establishment on a regular basis might be considered at best as an ostentatious show, and a disreputable habit at worst, eating and drinking out in Japan is a sine qua non prerequisite to a successful life, both professional and social.

“Jouren/常連” can be loosely translated as “regular customer”, although the term does not give justice to its real meaning.
The jouren is an essential feature at any establishment worth its salt. He oe she will usually sit quietly at the end of the counter if he/she is the only one present at the time, or next to another regular.
Now, if you observe him/her carefully (unobtrusively) you will notice that he/she is served food and drinks without orders or enquiries. There is a clear reason to that: the oyakata/chef or ofukuro/lady owner knows what the jouren likes to eat and drink within a tacitly agreed budget.
The jouren is not necessarily a well-off person, but he is a vital actor in the gastronomic theater because he/she will occasionally comes out of his/her reserve to gently recommend a dish or concoction when he/she notices a new customer experiencing some difficulty in choosing from an unknown menu. Very often a Japanese client will (politely) ask the local jouren for advice and enquire on the very food he/she is eating or on the best drink available.

At Tomii,…

Another peculiarity you will not fail to mark is that the jouren usually takes his leave without paying. He simply has a bill in the books that he will pay at a more or less determined date away from the inquisitive eyes of other diners and drinkers. This last arrangement is more practical for the owner’s accounts and tax returns. You will know that you have become a jouren the day or night the owner tells you to pay later, which of course means that he/she expects you to grace the place again soon!

Be it a posh kaiseki restaurant, an expensive sushi bar, a simple but popular izakaya, or a late night cocktail lounge, the “rules” are the same.
The jouren possesses an unfailing instinct as to the timing of his visits. He will avoid the really busy period of the evening, and will retreat with a smile and wave when his favorite haunt is unseasonably busy. He will also take leave when other customers start flowing in. On the other hand, a jouren will get full satisfaction and no questions asked if he requests a few seats for a party or some friends. Simply put, he is priority.

Jouren usually has his/her “bottle keep”, or own bottle of favourite spirits in situ, although the notion can be double-edged. Some izakayas or Japanese restaurants and bars make it rule for all customers, regular or not to acquire their own bottle with the attached condition that it must be consumed within a certain time limit. But a real jouren at an establishment worthy of its salt will probably keep a hard to find whisky or an extravagant shochu for his/her sole usage. On the other hand, if the jouren kindly offers you a glass of his/her own nectar, you may assume you will be part of the selected clientele very soon!

At Ekimae Matsuno Sushi,…

Japanese owners value their jouren very much for another reason.
In a tightly preordained world where the customer and the owner/chef are literally sitting on either side of a rigid fence, the jouren becomes an indispensable interlocutor you can talk shop with or even ask for advice. Japanese chefs have very little free time to spend outside work and take the pulse of their society to keep in touch with the prevalent trends of their fellow citizens. The jouren will bring in the news and information on any subject and the answers to questions that the chef will not hesitate to ask.
It works both ways: high-class geishas in Kyoto, who are not mere entertainers, do make a point to read at least two or three daily newspapers every morning, including one financial tabloid to ensure they can not only follow their clients’ conversations but give their own advice when solicited.

The nationality of a jouren is of little importance. Being a Japanese-fluent foreigner is actually an advantage as some social restrictions inherent to the Japanese society can easily be done without.
As a case in point a great majority of celebrated resident foreign chefs spend most of their free time patronizing local sushi and kaiseki restaurants for the dual purpose of relaxation and study in great company!

As a final word do not think jouren are exclusively male clients. There are certainly many ladies among them, although they will generally patronize a different type of establishment. But the same “rules” and traditions apply!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery