Japanese region's cuisine is a hit in Southeast Asia
KANAZAWA, Japan -- Restaurant chain operators and food manufacturers based in Japan's Hokuriku region -- located in the northwestern part of Honshu, the country's largest island -- are expanding in Southeast Asia, riding a wave of popularity for Japanese food culture.
Gold Foods, a curry restaurant operator based in the city of Kanazawa, will more than double the number of its Gold Curry restaurants in Thailand this year. Of three planned restaurants in Bangkok, two have been opened so far in 2016. The company plans to add one more by the end of this year.
All the Gold Curry restaurants in Thailand will be directly managed by a local Gold Foods unit and promote Kanazawa-style curry, famous for its rich texture.
Gold Foods has seven restaurants in Japan, mainly in Ishikawa Prefecture. Its first restaurant in Thailand, opened four years ago, initially targeted Japanese residents in the Southeast Asian country, but most of the customers are now Thai. The thick sauce typical of Japanese-style curry is catching on among local customers.
The rising middle class in Asia has fueled strong growth in the restaurant market. Next year, Gold Foods will start a franchise operation and seek to tap into the Vietnamese and Cambodian markets.
Yamato Soysauce & Miso, also based in Kanazawa, plans to boost sales of condiments for business use in Singapore by 30%. The company will also supply dashi, or soup stock used in simmered dishes known as nimono, and udon noodles to a Japanese restaurant chain operating there.
Monthly exports of dashi, including those by Yamato Soysauce, are 30% higher than a year ago.
"We have received a number of inquiries from companies in high-end industries and are proceeding with business negotiations with them on other condiments," said Yamamoto Soysauce President Seiichi Yamamoto.
Kanazawa-based Hachi-Ban, which operates a ramen restaurant franchise chain in Thailand, opened three outlets between April and September and now has 114 in the country.
Toyama-based Tentakaku, which makes a local specialty known as "black ramen," has two ramen restaurants in Thailand. It plans to open the first such restaurant in Vietnam by the end of this fiscal year.