On the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto -- April 11, 2016
Greg Dunmore and Chris Bonomo
Co-Founders of The Japanese Pantry
Most likely, The Japanese Pantry would not exist without Takehiro Wada. He and I met at Nojo about 3 years ago while he was visiting San Francisco working to promote small Japanese producers who wanted to import into the US. Takehiro’s 133 year old family company makes sesame everything in Osaka and I fell in love with his amazing black sesame paste. I got to know him and his product a little while he was in the States and I told him I was coming to Osaka.
My wife and I took our 10 month old son on that trip. Takehiro picked us up at our hotel at 7am and took us to the Central Osaka Fish Market, where we ate sushi and my son chowed down on Uni and Ikura for breakfast. He took us all around: to his friend Katsuobushi shop and to his other friends Konbu shop then to another amazing lunch and finally to his sesame factory...incredible. I had never tasted sesame products like this: perfectly-roasted sesame seeds, fresh-pressed sesame oils that reminded me of the best extra virgin olive oils, and his unique sesame pastes. Then, after all that, Takehiro took me to his friends yakitori shop, a place that has become one of my all time favorite restaurants.
Importing his product to the United States was an ongoing topic of conversation. The logistics were challenging to say the least - he had a buisness to take care of and I had a restaurant to run. However, our friendship blossomed and we kept in touch, visiting our respective homes when traveling and keeping the dream alive. When my partner Chris Bonomo and I finally opened TJP, the first thing I did was send him to visit Takehiro. When Chris saw what Wadaman did and tasted the products they produced, he too was blown away.
Takehiro has opened the door for us. He takes time out of his crazy schedule to introduce us to his friends - friends who also happen to make amazing products. We are visiting them on this trip in order to bring you more of the amazing and hard to find products that food artists in Japan have to offer. Takehiro is truly an awesome person.
Adapted from an article originally published on ChefsFeeds.com on April 14, 2016