Japan trip reports 2: Toon

Want to know what our leading shop managers felt and learned on the Japan trip? Here are Toon from Newmarket Market Room’s thoughts!

This was my first trip to Japan and I was not sure what to expect with regard to their local food and culture, as in how it is different or similar to Japanese food and culture in New Zealand.

The first thing that stood out to me is how quiet people are in Japan. Even with more people in public spaces like malls and public transport, you don’t hear them. Everything seemed a lot quieter outside of the tourist areas.

Mr. Nakashima from a partner trading company took us to see Tokyo Station before visiting their offices

For general stores, most are quite small but nice arranged. At some shops you can have food standing up and the food is cooked right in front of you. All shops use machines to help take orders but you still can see that they put a lot of thought into good customer service. For example, many shops have small hooks under tables to hang your bag on so you don’t have to put it on the floor.

Our mayo supplier made us onigirazu (sushi sandwiches), a new food concept in Japan. Easy to eat, easy to make, and very yummy!

The outstanding thing for me, with regard to food in Japan, is the freshness. Their ingredients seem fresh from the sea, bento with many types, such as small BBQ on a stick and tempura options. I know it’s not always possible, but I would like to see more fresh ingredients incorporated into our menu, as opposed to frozen. I realise it will not make much of a difference in taste as our ingredients are as fresh as can be, but I think the visual difference will be appreciated if customers see us preparing food with fresh ingredients. We should work in a way that customers can see what goes into their food so they are assured that it is all fresh.

Also, I noticed a larger variety of tempura in Japan. I would like to see us try some fresh, crunchy ingredients in our Tempura, like capsicum or pumpkin for example.

Moving forward, I would like to see some western influence infused into the Japanese freshness. Possibly something like Basil Pesto that would work well with seafood. Beef aburi with our sauces (teriyaki, mayo). We could trial these in-house as a “fusion” option first.


Overall it was an amazing time for all of us to visit the factories. I could see how all suppliers welcomed us and the strength of our relationships. Their quality and innovation was clear to me in how they paid attention and time to discussing their products.

There are also some interesting new products coming soon, such as egg-free mayo and many new products from our soy sauce supplier. I hope to see them in our shops soon.


With Thanks to all who made this trip possible, and I very much appreciate the opportunity.

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