David and Nick Miller say hello from Japan as they enter the second phase of their experience frying fish and chips at the country’s biggest department store
We left for Japan at the beginning of this month to cook fish and chips in two of Japan’s biggest department stores as part of the Hankyu British Fair 2018. We’ve spent four days cooking at the Hataka Hankyu department store and just finished our first day at the Umeda store.
We’re surrounded by loads of other amazing traders from the UK and the set-up here is perfect. We’ve been some of the first traders to arrive every morning as the tartare sauce is made fresh on site and we have to prepare the fish for the day and make sure we have enough.
There’s so much enthusiasm here for British food and seeing the general excitement of people visiting is honestly mind-blowing. The queues have reached 100-people deep so our first day today at the Umeda Hankyu department store has seen us serve over 1100 people.
Japanese diets don’t have as much wheat in them as a western diet, so the fish and chips we have been preparing is gluten free as it’s generally more palatable for the Japanese. A lot of the people visiting our stand come to the fair every year but it’s been great talking to customers who were trying British fish and chips for the very first time. For many of them, this is their first taste of British culture.
Of course, we’ve been making the most of this opportunity to throw ourselves into the Japanese culture too. There are so many friendly people out here and we’re starting to pick up bits of the language. We’ve probably sampled about 20 different species of raw fish so far and we’ve even tried a bowl of intestines, which were …interesting! More interesting is that the general consensus from customers seems to be that Dad and I are brothers, so either I’m a lot older than I look or Dad is a lot younger – I think he comes off better from that!
We hope you’ve all made the most of National Seafood Week back home. We’ve left our new manager Mark in charge of the shop with James Ritchie, who’s made the journey down from his award-winning shop in Cheltenham. They spent the week serving Japanese-inspired seafood dishes to customers such as Teriyaki salmon with an Asian ‘slaw and panko king prawns.
It’s important for everyone in the fish and chip industry to keep spreading positive messages to our customers despite the headlines around potato crop shortages and potential price hikes. If you do think you’ll be forced to hike prices, there’s never been a better time to engage with your customers and explain the honest reasons why. As the NFFF covered in their blog, this isn’t about turning an easier profit – it’s about covering costs. Just as important is keeping a check on your portion sizes as serving up really large portions of chips could end up costing you your business unnecessarily.
We’ve got a few days left in Japan and we can’t wait to see how many customers we end up serving by the end of the week.