It’s another special guest edition of our Chef’s Blog and this time Sales and Marketing Director, Sarah Prentice, reminisces about a recent family trip to Japan and the innovation — and food — that captured her imagination…
On a recent trip to Japan I loved the balance between technology and tradition. Here traditional values and respect are really important to everyone and when integrated with their high level of technology, you really do have the perfect balance.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in Japan’s restaurant and hospitality industry and whilst technology in the UK is rapidly moving forward, we really could learn a thing or two from the Japanese in getting the balance right.
Whilst sushi and ramen are probably the first things that come to mind when you think of Japanese food, there’s so much more to be found at the humble izakaya. These bustling places are great for snacks and drinks and the array of grilled, fried, fresh and raw dishes pair perfectly with sake and beer. We visited some fantastic izakaya restaurants in Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo and they all had the perfect mix of technology combined with traditional service values. I loved removing my shoes and settling down to low tables in cosy booths and the waiting staff were all really lovely and extremely efficient. After taking your initial order, you were shown a call bell on your table and/or an iPad to reorder anything, which was perfect as you could order small plates and drinks throughout the meal with no hassle or waiting.
Other food highlights for me were Hiroshima’s famous oysters which were incredible and great value too. We also loved the Teppanyaki and Okonomiyaki restaurants which are hugely popular and it was great fun to have your food freshly prepared on a hotplate at your table, washed down with a ginger highball or Asahi beer – perfect!
On arrival at a Ramen bar in Tokyo we were pointed to a machine on the wall where you placed your order and paid, although this was a bit impersonal, it was actually very efficient and easy to do. You received a ticket and then took a high bar seat around the kitchen where the chefs cooked up your dish in front of you, then voila – one splendid bowl of food. No fuss, no waiting staff and no wrong orders. I even heard rumours of a robotic chef in a restaurant but I never found it!
Combining great customer service and cuisine with technology to make it more efficient and not impersonal is definitely the way to go. I loved having a bell on my table to call staff for another tasting delight or aperitif and think this would really work well in the UK …..ding ding.