Trends: the world of Japanese-Brazilian cuisine

Trends: the world of Japanese-Brazilian cuisine

The largest Japanese community outside of Japan resides in the Libertade district of Sao Paulo in Brazil: and how Japanese-Brazilian cuisine was born.

If we had to find a state of mind to define the mood of world cuisine today, this would be the identity crisis. In fact, never as in recent years the continuous contaminations have given a creative force that pushes towards more poles.the largest Japanese community outside of japan resides in the libertade district of san paolo in brazil If on the one hand some styles of cooking have yet to find the right way to express themselves, on the other there are fusion kitchens with perfect contamination and matured over time, this is the case of Japanese-Brazilian cuisine . On the other hand, Brazil is one of the cradles of the melting pot of the last century, having been a destination for millions of emigrants from all over the world. Just think of Bossa Nova, a syncretism of Jazz and Samba born in the 1950s. Rich in history, Nikkei Burajiru jin cuisine, developed mainly in Sao Paulo in Brazil throughout the 1900s in the Libertade district, where the largest Japanese community outside of Japan resides. The story tells of a first boat, the Kasato Maru, which landed from Japan in the port of the economic capital of Brazil in 1907. Initially, the Japanese immigrants were essentially farmers who went to help in the coffee plantations.

Brazilian Japanese sushi

The Brazilian cuisine had some similarities with respect to the Japanese one, in the use of rice and beans, although they were of totally different varieties and textures from those used by them, but also unknown ingredients. the first technique introduced by the japanese in brazil was the preservation and fermentation of food The first technique that the Japanese introduced was the preservation and fermentation of food , non-existent at the time in Brazil, and used on fruits and vegetables. The Japanese later began adopting cassava and cassava flour in their diet only when rice prices went up. At the same time, vegetables and crops that did not exist before the Japanese settlement in Japan were introduced. The home cooking was different from that of the Libertade restaurants, where sushi bars were more common, due to the quick and easy-to-prepare format. The first to open, between the 1950s and 1970s, was Okina Sushi. At the time, it must have been a great culture shock to find a restaurant in the middle of São Paulo that basically served warm rice and raw fish. Yet the kitchenNikkei Burajiru jin has been able to create her own identity, strong and capable of influencing Japanese cuisine itself.

George Yuji Koshoji

A singular episode highlights the strong creativity of emigrated chefs. In the 1980s, following the non-arrival of a cargo from Japan, nori seaweed became scarce for some time. It was then that restaurateur George Yuji Koshoji decided to use salmon or avocado to wrap maki , rice rolls filled with fish or vegetables. Since then the technique has spread all over the world. Again, it was the Nikkei Burajiru jin restaurants , also in the 1980s, that introduced the idea of ​​a sushi buffet., and it is basically to this format of service that the Japanese-Brazilian cuisine owes its diffusion throughout the world. The Japanese emigrants have managed to make the rigorous and surgical process of preparing sushi simple, shaking off the weight of tradition by offering simplified sushi .


André Saburó Matsumoto
André Saburó Matsumoto


But in what direction is Japanese-Brazilian cuisine moving now that, spreading around the world, it encounters new cultures and new ingredients? We asked one of the most influential and award-winning restaurateurs in the industry, André Saburó Matsumoto , owner of the Quina do Futuro restaurant and other addresses in Recife, northern Brazil.

André, tell us about yourself and your restaurant.
“ I grew up in the family restaurant, I often fell asleep on chairs with tablecloths on them. Mum was in the dining room and Dad was in the kitchen. I learned very early from my father Shigeru the basics and secrets of Japanese cuisine, preparing family lunches on Sundays and cooking in our restaurant, Quina do Futuro. We opened it on the ground floor of our house in 1986, it is here that I learned the art of choosing the ingredients and the work of the restaurateur from my family: papa Shigeru, mother Tomiko, uncle Masayoshi and my older brother Taro ”.

When and how was Burajuru Nikkei-jin cuisine born?
” Japanese cuisine has been in Brazil for over 50 years now, but I think it was in the mid-90s that it began to transform, driven mainly by the media in Brazil, where Japanese food began to appear on television and when famous people began to go to this kind of restaurants. At that time there was a lot of talk about light and healthy food. I think the combination of these two factors has made Burajuru Nikkei cuisine a trend. I remember that in that period they opened a lot of modern Japanese-Brazilian kitchen chains in which the sushimen innovated in the preparations. Until then this type of catering was mainly a family business “.


quina do future
quina do future


Describe this cuisine in 3 words. How do you interpret it in your restaurant?
“ Unexpected, surprising and akin to the Brazilian palate. I always try to apply local products in my restaurant, my father loved them, they have an incredible freshness that enhances Japanese cuisine “.

How has this cuisine evolved recently?
” After years of total innovation, we have returned a little to the fundamentals of Japanese cuisine in Brazil, the sushimen now try to harmonize their recipes much more and to respect the ingredients “.

What does the Burajuru Nikkei-jin culture look like today in Brazil and Sao Paulo?
“ The Japanese food culture has integrated itself in all its forms. Let me explain: on the one hand there are the traditionalists, linked to the pure side of Japanese cuisine, made up of craftsmanship and minimalism. For young people, on the other hand, there are many restaurants and bars that offer modern cuisine with an overall good quality. Finally, there are the innovators, luminaries who set trends and use excellent products ”.

Who are the most influential and innovative chefs today? 
“ Each city has its masters. In São Paulo Adriano Kanashiro, Ignacio Ito, Alexandre Tanamate, Tsuyoshi Murakami, Jun Sakamoto and Shin Koike; in Rio de Janeiro, Francivaldo “Franca” Chagas and Nao Hara ”.

What do you think this kitchen owes its success to?
“ It is an unexpected cuisine. Brazilian chefs are very creative, over the years they have learned to understand the essence of Japanese cuisine which is respect for ingredients, knowing how to combine creativity and harmony “.

Your favorite Burajuru Nikkei-jin restaurant abroad?
“ Samba in Miami, Florida ”.

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