- ▼ 8月 (5)
Mr. Mayumu Saitama
Would you tell me your story of opening up the sushi world?
I liked to cook for someone when I was young. More than that, I like to do something for someone in general. About 25 years ago, I started training at the kaiseki meal restaurant. It was in the middle of bubble period, and we sold lunch with the price of $500.00. I trained about half a year there, and I wanted to clean fish more so I knocked the sushi world.
For me, sushi restaurant needs to control space. A guest would have totally different reaction depending on how he is served by a sushi chef. For example, it will be more effective to be whispered in low voice “This special tuna part is really tasty” rather than just simply said “This is a home grown tuna”. There is a time a sushi chef needs to shake customer’s heart aggressively. Therefore, I am confident that our hospitality especially conversation with guests is very satisfying compare to other sushi places.
It is unnecessary for me to keep talking for a long time. That is my own thing and different point from other sushi places.
Our head sushi restaurant is located in Tsukiji and it is a very competitive place for sushi restaurants. Our guests are mostly between 30s to 50s who want to get energy and passion from me. There is a feeling of relief in them thinking “Mr. Saitama will listen to me whatever I talk.”
Since I do have a confidence that I can serve delicious sushi, I can talk to the guests. There is veteran technique and skill trained in this world for a long time, and that is why I can entertain guests with the best conversation.
There was a time I wanted to quit this world since I could not talk to the guests well when I was 25 years old. Since the age-appropriate behavior meant “working earnestly” so I learned a lot from the guests at that time.
Then I went to see Yoshimoto comedy to learn “talking” as a professional. That made me realize the person who was talking enjoy what they talked. Since then, I save all my energy to give the best performance over the sushi counter. Most of my co-workers are not able to talk to me before dinner time since they know I want to save my talk to please the guests from the evening.
I had trained both at the middle class and high class sushi restaurants, then I have been working the current place for seven years.
At the high class restaurant, the owner was very specific about the details like the placement of chopsticks. Sometimes he slapped me because I was not punctilious. I did not repeat the same mistakes ever again once I was slapped.
In the sushi world, it takes about seven years to be able to serve over the counter. It sounds hard but I was not thinking seriously when I was young. I was just mentally prepared not to quit.
In the circumstance of several different opinions said by several different seniors, how you receive and understand their opinions were laboriousness. To state the bottom line first, I think it is important to be able to respond to all the people around you. Because it will be very effective when you stand behind the counter to serve your guests who have different characters and opinions.
This is the world where behaving seniors gives you next assignment. Since seniors will recognize your effort and spirit, they will give you next assignment. I practiced at home buying daikon radish and fish from the supermarket before seniors asked me next assignment so that I can somehow perform what I practiced rather than just saying “I do not know how to do this”. That is the training and gaining endurance and experience. This custom no longer exists nowadays.
I did not quit working in the sushi world since there is no point of leaving there because of someone else’s opinion. Of course, there were many of bullying situations both physically and psychologically. But I can do better and conformed to decorum, so I concentrated on living for my won.
I do not have any stress or pressure since I am loved by many guests. I enjoy serving sushi behind the counter until the midnight. I value fun and active conversation to please my guests with delicious sushi.
What is the signature of Sushi Tomi that other sushi restaurants do not have?
There are six branches and the new branch will be open in Ginza Matsuzakaya after the renewal next year. We have about 50 yeast of history.
Since Sushi Tomi is run by an intermediate wholesaler specialized in tuna market, we can serve the best tuna with in good condition and reasonable price. Our president is a tuna bidder and he devises the hospitality to satisfy guests. We would like to serve fresh and natural grown tuna with reasonable price especially at the flagship store in Tsukiji.
What is your persistence when you prepare a piece of sushi?
I always visualize how I want to serve at the end on the plate. I prepare fish in appropriate way so that I can serve it in the best condition and timing. Although it takes a lot of time and effort to prepare just one fish, I cautiously prepare fish with a lot of feelings into. I do not want to serve something ended up not satisfying the certain level of tenderness or texture.
I usually use about 8g of rice for a piece of sushi which is rather small amount compare to the regular size of 12g. Because I want to present sushi as for one of the pairings while guests are still drinking alcohol. I decide rice amount depending on the repletion level of guests. I wish young chefs could learn these instantaneous force.
What would you like try next?
Because the accumulation of my effort in the past led where I am now, I do not have any visions. Maybe it would be a life time agenda for me. I would appreciate if my guests introduce us to someone who is important or who they trust to come to our place.
How do you recommend for the people from overseas to enjoy eating sushi?
There are many guests from the overseas at our place as well.
I think they can enjoy sushi if they can order “Please include my favorite fish of A and B, and I leave to your choice for the rest of all”. In this way, they can explore something that set menu does not include even though the prices are the same. When I am standing behind the counter, I would like to serve in the best manner so that any guests from any countries can be satisfied.
Please send a final message to the reading audience.
There are certain important things that the people in each age should struggle with. If they can find the meaning in each thing and do their best, the consequence will follow after 10 years. Since I keep showing the attitude of learning, my guests are teaching me continuously.