“Not many people really know about real Japanese food. They know ramen. We have ramen, of course, and yakitori, and kushiage; they are the real popular Japanese food, but not many people really know about them. I hope that I can introduce some real Japanese food to them.”
Chikahiro Tamura is the owner and operator of Ietsu Japan Dining, an amazingly authentic Japanese cuisine restaurant in Downtown Yangon. He has been in Yangon since 2014, when he opened his first Japanese restaurant and began his efforts to introduce his country’s culture and food to Myanmar.
“Our fish is imported from Toyosu Fish Market directly every week, every Friday by air. It’s so fresh and never frozen. It is real, real Japanese.” The catch Ietsu imports changes with the availability in the fish markets of Japan, keeping with traditional Japanese seasonality and fare.
To pair carefully selected fish with the perfect drink, Mr. Chikahiro imports Japanese sake with care, offering his customers the best taste, not just an expected product. From Japanese whiskeys to sake, he chooses his drink with discerning taste.
“This sake,” Chikahiro Tamura waved his hands toward bottles of the Japanese rice wine, “are all hand carried because if you import it with a ship the high temperature changes the taste. So we carefully bring every single of them. It tastes good, tastes better.”
I sat down with Mr. Chikahiro to enjoy some of his soba and a little pufferfish fin sake and our interview turned into more of a discussion of passion for food. If you see him in the restaurant ask him about his soba.
“Every single day we are making fresh soba,” he explained and then he told me where he gets his raw materials. Ietsu gets their ingredients for their soba from Shan State. He is excited to be encouraging farmers to grow agricultural products instead of less savory alternatives.
You expect if someone is opening a restaurant that they would be passionate about food. Mr. Chikahiro meets that expectation and passes it. He is not only excited about the food he serves, but the culture he represents.
The food isn’t the only genuine experience that Ietsu Japan Dining offers. Private rooms for large groups and a really private VIP room with its own back entrance, a private bathroom, and a sliding bookcase for wait staff to enter and exit as needed. And what’s more, the restaurant adds to its authenticity by importing Japanese style toilets–and adventure in its self.
In the future, Mr. Chikahiro hopes to bring products from different regions of Japan into his restaurant to introduce his customers to a little more of what Japan has to offer.
“I really want to serve Myanmar local people. That’s why I am here. I did not come here to make Japanese food for only Japanese people. I really want to introduce this (Japanese food and culture) to the people.”
Try Ietsu and find the difference in authenticity and quality. Try the sushi–so good–and have some soba. Ask what pairs well with your food. Ask how to eat it. Enjoy a Japanese cultural experience as you enjoy great Japanese food.
Address: Ground Floor, Urban Asia Center, Corner of 48th Street and Mahabandoola Road, Botahtaung Twp, Yangon
Hours: 11am – 10pm