Next Shark: Female sushi chefs fight for acceptance after being harassed by sexist customers

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Next Shark (by Laura Dang):

When was the last time you saw a woman behind a sushi counter? Many people have never encountered such a sight in all their years of sushi eating. It may come as a surprise to those who are realizing this now, but there is a strongly held Japanese belief that sushi chefs must possess a macho “Edo-style” swagger.

The cultural norm in Japan dictates that the sushi made by men taste better and are of higher quality than sushi made by women. The son of famous master sushi chef Jiro once said women can’t be sushi chefs because their menstrual cycle interferes with their sense of taste. This stereotype that women’s warmer body temperatures contributes to their inferiority in making sushi has also played a key role in making the realm of sushi cuisine a predominantly male tradition in Japan.

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According to the Dallas Morning News, 28-year-old Yuki Chidui is now fighting for the inclusion of women in the art of sushi preparation. The sushi chef and manager at the all-women Nadeshico sushi restaurant in Tokyo is challenging age-old tradition and gender stereotypes. She said of female sushi chefs’ strengths:

“I think women are better at communicating with customers, and they’re kind and gentle.”

Chidui is soft-spoken and unlike other itamae, or sushi chefs, in dress and demeanor. Fliers portray her as a doe-eyed manga character to promote her store’s motto of “fresh and kawaii,” or “cute.”

She has intentionally strived to move away from the traditional look of sushi chefs who sport closely cropped hair as a statement to challenging tradition. Chidui can be found dressed in a white summer kimono decorated with pink blossoms.

Since opening Nadeshico in 2010, the pioneering restaurant owner says she has encountered rude remarks from male customers who question her capabilities and ask:

“Can you really do it?”

Although there are no official statistics on female sushi chefs in Japan, the All Japan Sushi Association, which groups 5,000 sushi restaurant owners nationwide, says they are rare.

Drew Barrymore arrives in Japan and begins chronicling her #tokyofoodtour on Instagram

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RocketNews 24:

Drew Barrymore is in Japan right now, and while we’re sure she’s got some sightseeing and interviews on her schedule, what she seems most fired up about is the food, as the actress looks to be on a mission to sample all that Tokyo has to offer her taste buds, from cheap ramen joints to Michelin-ranked fine dining.

Barrymore has been chronicling her culinary exploits through her Instagram account, marking updates with the hashtag #tokyofoodtour. The very first entry shows the star looking a little sleepy as she poses, chopsticks in hand, behind a balanced and beautifully arranged Japanese breakfast.

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Next up, a stop by Sukibayashi Jiro, made famous by 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

▼ The famously strict Jiro even cracks a smile.

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The actress isn’t solely interested in such exclusive establishments, though. As a matter of fact, she was up at about at 7 a.m. to stop by popular ramen restaurant Inoue, located in the Tsukiji neighborhood.

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Barrymore also stopped by a Tokyo shrine for a little spiritualism/digesting…

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…plus took time to pose with a fan.

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The hidden drawback to Tokyo’s extremely diverse dining scene is that there’s so much good food to try, it’s hard to find time for all of it. It seems Barrymore knows that when you’re looking to maximize the variety in your meal, a visit to a robatayaki, a type of restaurant where customers can choose from a large number of small dishes, is in order

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Japan doesn’t just have a deep food culture, though. A walk through Tokyo will present you with a staggering amount of beverage options, many of them waiting for you inside the city’s ubiquitous vending machines.

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And, like a true foodie, Barrymore remembers to save room for dessert, which on this day came from a Tokyo branch of American donut chain Krispy Kreme.

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Unfortunately, it looks as though the Tokyo portion of Barrymore’s trip to Japan is over, as the most recent photo of her Tokyo Food Tour has her posing in the middle of Shibuya’s famous Scramble Intersection with the caption “Sayonara! Goodbye Tokyo.”

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Restaurant information
Inoue / 井上
Address: Tokyo-tom Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 4-9-16
東京都中央区築地4-9-16
Open 5 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Website (Tabelog)

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Drink like a world leader with the $10 sake President Obama and Prime Minister Abe shared

 

RocketNews 24:

 

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During his visit to Tokyo, American President Barack Obama stepped out for a bite to eat with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Sukibayashi Jiro, widely held to be one of the finest sushi restaurants in the world. As you’d expect from their lofty positions, Sukibayashi Jiro isn’t an eatery for ordinary folks, what with its months-long reservation waiting list and set courses that cost 30,000 yen (US$294) yet only an amount of food that can be polished off in just 15 minutes.

And what about the sake the two leaders drank together? Surely, that must be an equally rarified brew, far out of the price range of anyone who isn’t the most powerful individual in his or her country. You probably even need a direct connection with someone in the industry to buy some, right?

Nope. Not only can you score a bottle for less than 10 bucks, but you can order it online right now.

While the two heads of state enjoyed a tipple in downtown Tokyo, their sake actually comes from the other side of the country. The brewer is Hiroshima Prefecture’s Kamotsuru. While their product recently graced the cup of Japan’s prime minister, Kamotsuru’s history stretches back to when Japan was still ruled by a shogun, as the company was founded in 1623.

▼ The Kamotsuru brewery

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Thanks to the distinctive square-based bottle Prime Minister Abe is seen pouring from, it didn’t take long for sake aficionados to discern that the specific brew the two were drinking is Kamotsuru’s Diginjo Tokusei Gold, which the brewer later confirmed through its website. Kamotsuru proudly states that the Diginjo Tokusei Gold is the finest representation of its techniques and traditions, made with water drawn from subterranean sources in Hiroshima’s northern Takahara highlands.

 

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Daiginjo Tokusei Gold is highly esteemed, having received more than 95 awards for its flavor since 1970. According to its maker, the sake has a refined aroma, with a rich, full flavor, and is best served chilled or at room temperature.

Kamotsuru also claims to be the first brewer to think of adding decorative flakes of gold to its sake, and as you pour the Daiginjo Tokusei Gold into your glass, you’ll see cherry blossom-shaped gold leaves floating in your beverage.

 

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Even more surprising than this clever visual design point, though, is the price. Kamotsuru sells the Daiginjo Tokusei Gold through its website here, with prices starting at just 1,378 yen (US$13.50) for a set of two 180 milliliter (6.1 ounce) bottles.

 

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With prices like that, Kamotsuru’s sake can be enjoyed by anyone, even if the only seat of power you have is the sofa in your living room.

Sources: LivedoorKamotsuru

 

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Drink like a world leader with the $10 sake President Obama and Prime Minister Abe shared

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Obama begins Asia trip with ‘the best sushi I’ve ever had’

 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took President Barack Obama to famed sushi restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro for a private dinner on Wednesday night.

 

Anyone who imagines U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed territorial disputes with China or the U.S.’s “pivot to Asia” foreign policy during their private dinner in Tokyo on Wednesday likely isn’t familiar with the restaurant where the two leaders dined.

Ahead of a protocol-bound formal state visit that officially begins on Thursday, Abe took Obama to Sukiyabashi Jiro, the fabled restaurant in Tokyo’s fashionable Ginza district widely regarded as the best sushi restaurant in the world.

Diners approach Sukiyabashi Jiro with a sense of reverence.

The experience provided by head chef and proprietor Jiro Ono leaves little time for small talk, much less big talk.

The focus is on the fish.

Heralded as a Japanese national treasure, Ono, who turns 90 next year, is the first sushi chef in the world to receive three Michelin stars.

With hundreds of onlookers behind police barriers lining the streets near the restaurant, Obama and Abe, neither wearing neckties, shook hands and entered the basement restaurant. New U.S. ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, also attended the dinner, which lasted about an hour and a half.

Sukiyabashi Jiro, a tiny restaurant with a coveted three Michelin-star rating, has only ten seats and is run by its 89-year-old owner, Jiro.

Like those who have gone before him into this shrine of sushi, Obama did not leave disappointed.

President Obama told me that, ‘I was born in Hawaii and ate a lot of sushi, but this was the best sushi I’ve ever had in my life,'” Abe told Japan‘s NHK network after the meal.

Inside the restaurant, Abe poured sake for Obama at the sushi counter.

While Obama praised the sushi enthusiastically, some onlookers said he stopped eating halfway through the meal.

The owner of another restaurant that is located in the same subway station told Tokyo Broadcasting System that Obama had put his chopsticks down midway into the dinner.

He also said a sushi chef from Sukiyabashi Jiro said Obama did not make small talk, but was quite serious, jumping into a discussion on trade immediately.

Japan’s chief government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, refused Thursday to cite exactly how much Obama ate, saying instead: “It’s true that he ate a good amount.”

 

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Obama begins Asia trip with ‘the best sushi I’ve ever had’

"President Obama told me that, 'I was born in Hawaii and ate a lot of sushi, but this was the best sushi I've ever had in my life,'" Abe told Japan's NHK network after the meal.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster