Japan External Trade Organization brings new flavors to Plano

Photos by Jill Baethge

A select group of restauranteurs and food distributors gathered at the Mitsuwa Marketplace on Legacy Drive in Plano Monday night to sample fish and sake offerings from the Ehime Prefecture region of Japan.  These are items typically not found in local stores or restaurants.

The Japan External Trade Organization, also known as JETRO, sponsored the event. Officials with the organization chose the Dallas area based on surveys that showed the region has many Japanese restaurants and an established demand for imported seafood.

They saw it as an opportunity for Japanese farmed fish to extend beyond Japanese restaurants into high-end restaurants of French and American cuisine, as well as supermarkets and distributors.

“Japan is very famous for fishery products but most of the products imported are in the west coast or the east coast restaurants,” JETRO Chief Executive Director Masahiro Sakurauchi said. “But in Texas, the Midwest and the Southeast not so much. That is why we started doing this promotion.”

The Ehime Prefecture is one of the leading farmed-fish producers in Japan. Among the items it is known for are red sea bream, striped jack, tuna, long tooth grouper and hirame. One popular fish is called the “Aiiku-fish,” which means “a lovingly raised fish” in Japanese.

The wide selection of sake from the region will included Junmai-Daiginjo Yumetukiyo (Dreamy Moon), made with “Shizuku-Hime sake rice.” This is a local sake rice only cultivated in the Ehime region. It is brewed with underground water from Mt. Takanawa to create a soft and gentle Ginjo aroma with a subtle taste.

Then there is the kuramoto no umeshu, a shochu-based plum liquor containing fine pieces of local nakoume plum.  Promotors claim that the additive-free liquor enables drinkers to enjoy a natural refreshing taste balanced with the sharpness of rice shochu.

According to a JETRO spokesperson broad distribution of Ehime fish and sake in North Texas should begin this spring.

“We did a business promotional event in L.A. and now we decided to go inland to Dallas as a place to promote because of its market standing,” Sakurauchi said. “People love different cultures here and it’s a very diverse city so it’s a good spot for this.


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