Food - Drink
The Tokyo Sushi Restaurants Run Completely By Women
BY CLAIRE REDDEN
In a 2011 interview, Yoshikazu Ono, son of Jiro Ono and heir to his father's prestigious sushi restaurant, stated that “Because of the menstrual cycle, women have an imbalance in their taste, and […] can't be sushi chefs." Some Tokyo sushi restaurants are now challenging Ono's controversial remarks with their female-only staff.
Tokyo's Akihabara district has many female-staffed maid cafes, so restauranteur Kazuya Nishikiori saw an opportunity to open a female-run sushi restaurant, Nadeshico Sushi. The venture was not without challenge, as the restaurant's manager, Yuki Chizui, was only trained for about two weeks, and men often refused to sell fish to her.
Additionally, Tsurutokame in Tokyo's Ginza district is a 100% women-run kaiseki restaurant owned by couple Harumi and Osamu Mikuni. "Kaiseki" refers to Japan's seasonal fine dining and is one of the most challenging cuisines to prepare, so until now, it was unheard of for female chefs to be allowed to cook this type of cuisine.
Yuki Chizui has secured Nadeshico Sushi's fish supply from a woman-owned fishing boat in Yamaguchi Prefecture, and trains other female chefs at her school Next Generation Sushi Association. Meanwhile, reservations at Tsurutokame are often booked a month ahead, a good sign for Harumi Mikuni and her current team of seven female chefs.