👱♀：Staff from The Limelight Kyoto
👩🍳：Chef from Tojiya
👱♀When did you open your restaurant?
👩🍳We opened in September 2017, so it’s been two years now.
👱♀What’s your favorite item on the menu?
👩🍳It changes depending on the season or my mood that day.
👱♀What’s the most popular item on the menu
👩🍳We have two: Chicken Nanban (which is a fried chicken with a special type of sauce)and Grilled Chicken with Tomato Salsa, but our Chicken Nanban is especially popular.Both items are part of our regular menu. Sometimes I feel like making an original dishand adding it to the menu as a daily special. I think about how most of the dishes we serve are chicken, so I worry that it seems like we lack a variety. I’ll usually decide what to make and prepare for it the night before, then in the morning I’ll whip it up so that I can give it a taste. Since we get a lot of customers from many different countries, I try not to focus only on one kind of meat.
👱♀Do you run the restaurant on your own?
👩🍳During the daytime, there’s two of us. On Sundays, we’re three.
👱♀Do you get a lot of foreign customers?
👩🍳I think about one-third of the customers are non-Japanese. That’s why we addedEnglish to our menu. Because not everyone who comes in understands English, thepictures that we have really help them. The photos we use are just used for referenceand are not exactly how the dishes will be served, but everyone can see that it’s chicken, fish, or what have you. Since I myself can’t speak English, I use Pocketalk to communicate with foreign customers!
👱♀Are there any dishes that are particularly popular with foreign customers or Japanese customers?
👩🍳They have the same favorites!
👱♀What makes you glad that you opened your restaurant?
👩🍳It makes me really happy when customers clean their plates. It shows me that they really liked the food.
👱♀Have you always liked to cook?
👩🍳I did, but ever since my daughters have grown up, they’ve started to make suggestions of their own like, “This’ll make you fat” and “You should cook the vegetables,” so it gets sort of irritating. I honestly wanted to start my own restaurant so that people can tell me that they like my food.
👱♀Which dish do you recommend?
👩🍳We usually get media people coming in and seeking out our version of a Scotch egg.
We stuff hamburger meat with a soft-boiled egg, coat it in panko breadcrumbs, and fry it. Then after they publish their articles, we get people coming in who’ve read the articles and want to try it, but since it’s not easy to prepare, we don’t have it on our regular menu. Whenever we feel like making it, we’ll make it a daily special. Also, everyday before we open for lunch, we upload “Today’s Lunch Special” on our Instagram feed, and every day we get the usual customers coming in!
👱♀Do you have a lot of local customers?
👩🍳Local customers frequent our restaurant the most! We’ve kind of become like are staurant where you can get set meals. Single Japanese men tend not to eat enough vegetables, so I cook with vegetables that are freshly picked off the farm. You should try to finish all the vegetables on your plate!
👱♀Are all the dishes hand-made?
👩🍳Yes, of course. I live in Saga (Arashiyama area), and we have farms everywhere. The neighborhood farmers and I raise all our vegetables from seeds until they’re fully ripe.That’s why I taste-test everything every morning. Even if the vegetable doesn’t look perfect, it’s still tastes good because it’s fresh. I make all our sauces and dressings from scratch.
👱♀What do you recommend for dessert?
👩🍳That would be our cheesecake made from sake-kasu (the lees left over when making sake). There actually isn’t any cheese in our cheesecake. The family of Kuranosuke Sasaki (a famous Japanese actor who’s from Kyoto) own a sake shop, and theybrought me the sake-kasu once, asking me if I can make a dish out of it. Since I’m highly competitive, I thought about it very intently and decided to turn it into a dessert.It’s really good, but I can only make it in the winter due to the time of year when sake is produced. I made the cheesecake again from things I bought from sake shops in that same area, but it didn’t taste the same. That’s why our cheesecake is a seasonal special.
👱♀What do you like most about Hanazono?
👩🍳Personally, before I started my restaurant here two years ago, I didn’t have any connection to Hanazono. Hanazono isn’t a bustling area, and there isn’t too much to do here. Luckily, we’re right across from Hanazono Station and have Myoshinji Temple inour backyard, so people who are waiting for the train or bus usually stop in. I think thearea becomes more energized when new people come by doing whatever it is thatthey’re on their way to do. I think what’s important is that they can get along with uslocals since we know a lot about the area. That’s why I think I like that sense of closeness. Also, I like how old-fashioned buildings are still around. In the spring, the area around the Kyoto City Fureai Culture Hall has so many beautiful cherry blossom(sakura) trees. When the petals start to fall, it makes me want to stick out both of my hands to try to catch them.
👱♀What makes your restaurant unique?
👩🍳Anyone is welcome to come in! I purposely made my restaurant as inviting as possible.If we get customers who are vegetarians or who are about to go to the hospital and are having a hard time finding something that they can eat, I’ll consider what they can eat,leave the kitchen to my staff, then go out and buy ingredients to make them a dish on the spot. All I want is to have them enjoy their meals. I want them to feel as relaxed as they are at home. For example, if someone brought in a bouquet of shiso leaves(beefsteak plants), I’d make them anything they wanted. When I bring out dishes to foreigners, I also show the actual ingredients so that they know what it is.