Trying Japanese and Jewish Fusion Food

(upbeat music) – [Sawako] We're not trying to make everything half Jewish and half Japanese (bell dings) It'd be easy to call it Jewish-Japanese, but it's more than that

– [Aaron] It comes from a very genuine place I think our food is a lot about building bridges, not about barriers between cultures (upbeat music) (bright music) – [Sawako] My name is Sawako Okochi I'm a chef owner of Shalom Japan – My name is Aaron Isarael, and I'm also a chef and owner of Shalom Japan

– So, we've been together for eight years – Eight years – [Aaron] Shalom Japan is our restaurant The food is a collaboration between the two of us – [Sawako] I grew up in Hiroshima, and I moved to New York to go to culinary school

– [Aaron] I grew up in Great Neck, New York, which is – Jewish (both laughing) – So Jewish

We grew the restaurant organically out of being dating, and then, living together and sharing different foods I really wanted to open my own restaurant, and so, I think we just decided at one point, we're like, "Hey, let's just do it together" (bright music) (metal door clattering) (quirky music) – [Sawako] Shalom Japan has been open for six years One of the first dishes that we put on the menu is a lox bowl – [Aaron] Our lox bowl is our version of chirashi, which is a Japanese dish of raw fish over sushi rice

We put our house-cured lox over sushi rice, and then we put a whole bunch of traditional Japanese ingredients, and then also, some Jewish ingredients So, Japanese pickles, fried capers, avocado and cilantro Our matzo ball ramen is our version of a great, classic Jewish soup And then, has the ramen noodles, matzo ball, has a little gyoza that we fill with chicken and foie gras, and a little garlic-chili oil Grandma didn't put garlic chili oil in the matzo ball soup in my house

Sake kasu challah is a, challah's a traditonal Jewish bread, almost like a brioche, and we bake sake kasu into it Sake kasu is the leftover mash when you make sake, so kind of yeasty, kind of fermented, kind of a little funky (quirky music) Our food seems like an unlikely combination It's sort of who we are It's what we cook at home, with the experiences we've had together, how we kind of, take those and then express them at our restaurant

– I hear that people are pleasantly surprised because people come in with like, "What is this place? "A funny name, Shalom Japan" And they have changed their mind by the end of the meal You know, that was delicious, never had anything like this, you know? Like, that's the response we get a lot, and that's what gets us going – I think our food is not about putting up barriers between cultures but looking at how can we relate to each other, like, through those ingredients (bright music) (bell echoes)