Thursday, September 30, 2010

Recap of the JapanTown Soul Food Festival

Well, the JapanTown Soul Food Festival certainly lucked out with the weather this Sunday given all the rain we're getting this week. We were blessed with a gorgeous day, neither too hot nor too cold, which brought out a great turnout. Pervading the air, the smell of grilling meat and other exotic foods definitely acted as a people magnet as well. Plenty of loyal fans showed up as well as many of the area's residents, who were pleasantly surprised to discover the festival. We found it interesting that some people we talked to confessed that they didn't really know all that much about Japanese food., so we're glad the Soul Food Festival helped to broaden their perspective!

Kyushu Soul Food
The highlight of the festival was the soul food from Kyushu, from which several vendors traveled all the way here to promote their company and products to the New York market. These vendors include:

Daichi Ohama, Soy Sauce Sommelier

Eita Segawa, an artist from Kobe who is friends with the Amakusa guys, created art and poetry for visitors

There were even some vendors who came from Tokyo:
IFUU Powered by ZAAP (warabimochi, yakitori, kakuni)
Anything (maekake and handbags)

Other Eats
Other veteran JapanTown vendors sold new dishes that fit the regional specialties theme of the event. Negiya restaurant had Jingisukan steak, a grilled mutton dish from Hokkaido. They sold tebasaki, or seasoned deep-fried chicken wings that Nagoya is famous for, at our last festival. Souen, the macrobiotic restaurant, had organic vegan pocket burgers, scones, and sweet corn with miso instead of the ramen salad they served in the past festivals.

The many families in the area made the kingyo sukui fishing game incredibly popular, and the booth was constantly beseiged by strollers. In Japan, kingyo sukui (goldfish scooping) is done with real fish, but here, we made it easier with cute bath toys. Dr. Robot again invited people to battle robots as well as taught them basic robot engineering.

The Soul Food Festival's success can be measured by how quickly some vendors sold out their food. Cafe Zaiya and Go! Go! Curry!, both selling curry dishes, were completely sold out by 3 PM, three hours before the festival closed. Shiki Kamaboko, Billy Strynkowski, Hakata Tonton, East Restaurant, Negiya, Umi No Ie, and Hide-Chan Ramen followed suit shortly.

This wasn't very surprising, considering that all of the Japanese regional foods offered smelled and looked mouth-watering. Most of the afternoon saw lines of people snaking through our two-block festival, and some of the wait times were almost an hour long, like the one for Hakata Tonton's delicious tonton pork. East Restaurant's inexpensively priced $5 whole grilled calamari and $3 squid legs tempted many a hungry visitor.

Lines of people waiting to buy some Japanese soul food
East Restaurant's grilled squid
East Restaurant's whole squid
Hakata Tonton's tonton pork

Non-Food Stuff
Besides food, there were lots of accessories, clothes, and Japanese items from stores such as Tesage by Yukiko Sato, Wuhao NYC, Kiteya, Web Japan, Anime Castle, and Video Games New York.

Tesage by Yukiko Sato
Wuhao NYC
Anime Castle

Overall, everyone was happy. We couldn't ask for a more perfect day for the Soul Food Festival. We want to thank everyone who came and to all of our vendors and sponsors who made this festival such a wonderful success! We look forward to seeing all of you at the next festival for another year of successes. Stay tuned for plenty of professional photos taken by by Takahiko Marumoto.

If you are interested in exhibiting next year, please contact us at

THANK YOU and until next time!