Organic vegan Japanese restaurant
2016-05-16
Organic vegan Japanese resta...

Organic vegan Japanese resta...

Organic vegan Japanese resta...

Organic vegan Japanese restaurant
Popularity has resulted in two L.A. locations

By Keiko Fukuda

“Shojin” located in a shopping mall in downtown Los Angeles is a vegan restaurant where only organic vegetables are used for their dishes, but you can still enjoy the taste of authentic and creative Japanese cuisine. This reputation has been attracting vegan and gluten-free food lovers not only from all over California, but even from overseas. In order to respond to the requests from the regular visitors, the second restaurant opened in Culver City in March of 2013.

The core of this restaurant is its concept that has 4 principles; organically grown chemical-free ingredients, natural ingredients with no additives for the concern of the health of the customers, body-pleasing macrobiotic cooking originated in Japan, and vegan food which means no meat, fish, eggs or milk.

The owner, Mr. Tsuguhiro Morishima is so particular about the ingredients. He says, “There are several different ranks of organic state. We check the contents, and select what is closest possible to their natural state, and make sure that there are no additives. The price won’t affect the selection. Our head chef is a skilled cook who studied the traditional way of how to add flavors in Japanese cuisine in Japan, and is able to utilize the natural energies of the ingredients that are organic vegetables, takes them and gives them a nice subtle flavor. He makes everything - even sauces and dressings from scratch. He selects the ingredients and cooks them as a mother cooks for her children at home, so to speak.”

However, as successful as they are now, the first 3 years from the opening of the first restaurant in 2008 was a struggle. “We managed to stay in business thanks to the regular customers who agreed with and supported our concept.”

Mr. Morishima analyzes the success as follows: While many other restaurants aim for better numbers in sales and lowering of cost, we rather strived for making healthy Japanese cuisine that would impress customers. The slow but steady efforts for that goal might have been well understood and conveyed to the outside through our regular customers, and resulted in bringing people even from overseas now. Another contributing factor is the characteristic of the city of Los Angeles where many people have a strong consciousness about health and love for animals, and those people, including celebrities, are naturally attracted to the concept.”

Through his career, Mr. Morishima worked for French and Japanese restaurants in Japan, and then became in charge of hiring, educating, and allocating the staff as the chief of the banquet room staff. Moreover, he has handled big banquets for as many as 2,000 people in hotel weddings, catering events, or cruising parties with VIP including royalty and government officials. The head chef, Mr. Jun Matoshiro who built his career in Japanese cuisine in Japan has been with this restaurant since 2011.

Lastly, I asked Mr. Morishima about his future goals. He said, “I remember what a well-known Michelin chef once said. He said that chefs who can create dishes that not only taste good, but also provide health to the customers will be the true chefs of the future. Many of Shojin’s customers have allergies or cannot eat certain foods. I strongly hope that we can help such customers enjoy the experience of eating out without worry. I know that some children cannot eat birthday cakes due to allergies, so they just blow out the candles. I would like to offer such children and even adults the cakes they can eat safely. In order to realize his hope, he will open a dessert shop “Pomegranate” in April with the same concept as Shojin; Organic, natural, vegan, and gluten-free.


オーガニックヴィーガンジャパニーズ
人気集めLAに2店舗


ロサンゼルス・ダウンタウンのショッピングモール内にあるSHOJIN。有機野菜だけを使ったVEGANながらも、本格的かつクリエイティブな日本料理が堪能できると評判を呼び、カリフォルニア州内はもちろん、遠くは海外からもVEGANやグルテンフリー志向の人々が来店する。2013年3月には常連客のリクエストに応える形でカルバーシティに2号店を出店した。

同店の柱となっているのは、顧客の健康を考えた農薬不使用のオーガニック、添加物も不使用のナチュラル、そして身体が喜ぶ食事法である日本発祥のマクロビオティック、肉、魚、卵、牛乳を使わないVEGANという4つのコンセプトである。

オーナーの森島嗣博さんの食材へのこだわりは徹底している。「オーガニックでもいくつかのランクがありますが、内容物を確認し、一番自然に近いもの、添加物不使用のものを厳選します。安さでは食材を選びません。当店のヘッドシェフは古典的な日本料理の味付けを勉強した日本からの職人で、有機野菜など食材の持つエネルギーを活かし、優しい味付けに腕を振るいます。すべてのソース、ドレッシングに至るまでシェフがスクラッチから調理をしています。ある意味、家庭で母親が自分の子どもに作るのと同じような気持ちで食材を選び、調理しているのです」

ただし、2008年にダウンタウンの1号店を開店してから3年目までは、経営が軌道に乗ることがなかった。「私たちのコンセプトに共感し、支持してくださった常連のお客様に支えられ、何とか営業を続けていくことができました」。多くの店が売上や原価率などを目標に掲げる中、数字よりも「顧客に感動を与える健康的な日本料理」を目標に地道に努力してきた結果が、常連客発信の口コミを経由して海外からも集客できる現在につながっているのだと森島さんは分析する。
また、ロサンゼルスという、健康志向や動物愛護への意識が高い人々が多く暮らす土地柄も追い風となり有名人やセレブも訪れる店となった。

森島さんは日本でフレンチや日本料理屋での勤務経験を経て、ホテルのバンケットルームの主任として人材採用、教育、配置までを担当。ホテルでは結婚披露宴、ケータリング、船上パーティーなど最大2000人規模の宴会を任され、皇族政財界人など多数のVIPのサービス経験を誇る。また、日本国内の日本料理店で経験を積んだヘッドシェフの的代純さんは、2011年より現職を務めている。

最後に、森島さんに今後の目標を聞いた。「あるフランスの有名なミシュランシェフの言葉を覚えています。『これからの時代は、ただ美味しいだけではなく、お客様の健康を作り出せるシェフこそが本物のシェフである』と。SHOJINに来るお客様は、アレルギーがあったり、何か食べられない物があったりする方が中心です。そんなお客様が安全に安心して楽しく外食ができるようになれば、と強く願っています。また、誕生日にキャンドルを吹き消すだけでアレルギーが原因でケーキを口にできない子供がいます。そんな子供や大人たちに安心して食べられるケーキを提供したい。そこで、SHOJINと同じコンセプト、ORGANIC,NATURAL,VEGAN, GLUTEN-FREのデザートショップ「ポメグラネイトPOMEGRANATE」を4月にオープンさせます」



SHOJIN
Little Tokyo Shopping Center 3F, 333 S Alameda St #310, Los Angeles, CA 90013, United States
http://www.theshojin.com/dtla.htm

Monday - Friday
5:30 - 11:00 p.m. (L.C. 10:30 p.m.)
Saturday
12 - 11:00 p.m. (L.C. 10:30 p.m.)
Sunday
12 - 10:00 p.m. (L.C. 9:30 p.m.)


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