LIFESTYLE - INTERVIEW
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
LIFESTYLE - INTERVIEW
by Meryem Aksoy
Although there are about two hundred countries in the world, very few traditional culinary cultures of them have been accepted by other countries and spread all over the world. Japanese cuisine is one of the most important of these few culinary cultures. In every country and city, you go, you can find Japanese restaurants representing Japanese culinary culture and you can taste these delicacies. The name of Akachochin inspired by the traditional Japanese red lanterns that inform customers that a restaurant is open. In Melbourne, Akachochin welcomes its customers with modern Japanese culinary culture, food, and drinks. Since 2012, it has been offering many Japanese culinary classics to its customers from sushi to sashimi, from sake to yuzu sour. With the touch of Chef Seyong Park, who learned his craft from one of the world's most respected chefs, Akachochin is a Japanese restaurant that offers Japanese culinary culture in both traditional and modern aspects. I talked with David Phok, Venue Manager of Akachochin, about Japanese cuisine, Akachochin, and Melbourne.
David, before talking about Akachochin, I would like to learn more about you. How did you decide to pursue a career in the restaurant business?
I was born in Toulouse based in South West of France. I grew up in the restaurant business, my parents had restaurants before. I used to help them and became interested in the business. I got to work and experience any types of restaurants in England, France and Australia (From Asian restaurants to typical French cuisine). I like to improve myself and in the restaurant business, there is always a way to do it, by learning more about drinks, service, food, and culture.
Akachochin - Sushi Platter
Could you tell us about yourself and your journey to Akachochin?
I always loved Japanese food and culture. After working in many different types of restaurants (French, Spanish, Greek, Italian, American, Japanese, Thai, Chinese) I found myself more suitable for Japanese cuisine. I started working at Akachochin in 2013, I got to learn a lot about the culture, food, and drinks. The more I learnt the more I became interested, the way Japanese cuisine looks, the way they take care of the product, the quality of their drinks, make it more interesting. I started as a waiter in Akachochin and made my way to the venue manager. I want to make Akachochin a place you want to come because you feel home and comfortable.
Akachochin - Red Lantern
Could you tell us about Akachochin and the overall concept?
Akachochin is named after the red lantern. Red lanterns are really common in Japan to inform the customer that the restaurant is open. We are an Izakaya restaurant. Izakaya is the place where you enjoy good food to share with drinks and friends. The idea in Akachochin is to give to our customer this Japanese experience as if they were in real izakaya restaurant.
We are serving modern authentic Japanese tapas. We make everything following authentic Japanese cuisine and add modern or local ingredients to bring the best to our customer.
Enjoy sake or Japanese beer at the sushi bar watching the chef or in our terrace next to the Yarra River.
Akachochin - Sushi by Chef
You are working with South Wharf's most experienced Japanese chef. Could you tell us about Chef Seyong Park?
Our head chef Seyong Park is one of the best chefs I’ve ever worked with. He understands and always try’s to follow Japanese authentic cuisine with a touch of modern ingredients. He learnt from a highly respectable Japanese chef, Kengo Hiromatsu. Through the years he worked in Japanese restaurants, he has built a strong knowledge and many skills within Japanese cuisine.
How could you define the gastronomic diversity of Melbourne? Which aspects of this diversity does Akachochin represent?
Melbourne is the capital in the World when we talk about food. There is every type of food in Melbourne, this is due to such diversity of different people and cultures in the city. We can enjoy gastronomy from all over the world, American, Asian, French and European cuisine, also traditional to fusion cuisine.
Akachochin strongly represents Japanese culture with modern Japanese cuisine.
Akachochin - Wagyu Beef Yaki
Could you tell us about your menu?
Our menu is created following authentic Japanese food and adding a seasonal, modern or local ingredient. We serve tapas-style dishes, starting by traditional sushi and sashimi to grilled, steamed or deep fried dishes.
Akachochin - Tuna Tataki
How often do you change up your menu? What are you paying attention to while selecting new drinks and dishes for your new menu?
We change our menu following the season. We are looking for the best seasonal ingredients when we are changing the menu. Our chef wants to give to our customer those dishes which match perfectly to the season. The same goes for drinks where we choose the best drinks dependant of the season and the dishes we are serving.
Akachochin - Sake
What is the importance of Izakaya, Sushi, and Sake in Japanese cuisine and Akachochin?
In Japanese cuisine, the most important thing is how we look after the ingredient, how we take care of and how we use them. Izakaya has to be the place you come when you want to relax and have a good time with friends or family while enjoying good food and drinks. In Akachochin we offer the same. We want to give the best of the ingredients we use in a friendly environment. Our sake selection is made for everyone to enjoy, we pick our sake according to our dishes but also to our customer’s taste.
Which dishes and drinks are your customer's favourites?
The best 3 signature dishes of our restaurant are ‘Hiramasa Namerou’, kingfish tartare mixed with moromi miso and wasabi stem served with rice cracker. ‘Shake Aburi Sushi’, flamed salmon sushi with dashi soy, ‘Hapuka Sakamushi’, steamed white fish in sake served with dashi ponzu. But we also our Grilled wagyu with sweet wasabi or our chicken karaage are our favourite as well.
Our most popular drinks are sake, especially Hida No Tanbo Junmai and Irootoko Junmai Daiginjo, our cocktail, matcha martini and yuzu sour are also our customer’s favourites.
Akachochin - Sashimi Platter
Melbourne has lots of restaurants. How does Akachochin differentiate itself from other restaurants in Melbourne?
I would say that Akachochin is not only about food or drink but also about service. We treat our customers like they're in a real izakaya at the same time friendly and professional. We always give our best to the customer to make them feel like they are home and to give them an experience that they will never forget.
How do you describe Melbourne in one sentence?
Melbourne is the city, where different cultures and people can call home.
Akachochin - Sushi Bar
How can our readers find Akachochin when they visit Melbourne?
If they visit Melbourne, they will find us in South Wharf which is along the Yarra River, and not too far from Crown Casino.
What do you think about the importance of social media for restaurants?
Social media is getting more and more important, as nowadays people spend most of their time on social media. Social media has a big impact on a restaurant.
How can our readers follow Akachochin?
They can follow us on Instagram @akachochinmelb or facebook @akachochin
Thank you David for your time.