Since the late 70s, the burgeoning number of restaurants has had a strong presence on the city’s food map. With the growing dining culture, B360 spoke with some of the capital’s ace restaurateurs on their business, challenges and success mantra. Excerpts:
Japanese cuisine is gaining prominence as is evident from mushrooming Japanese restaurants in major parts of the city. Run by Tomita Kensei, a Japanese Chef, Kotetsu Restaurant is regarded as one of the most authentic Japanese restaurants which opened its door 13 years back. We spoke with Ramesh Balami, the F&B Manager.
What is the story behind Kotetsu Restaurant?
The 72-year-old Tomita Kensei loved Nepal and wanted to spend the rest of his life here. He soon realised that there weren’t any authentic Japanese restaurants in the city and ended up opening one. The huge pan for cooking Japanese cuisine is called ‘kotetsu’ and hence the name Kotetsu Restaurant came into existence. We started running this restaurant in Pani Pokhari 13 years back. I have been associated with the restaurant since then. When the country was hit by the massive earthquake, we faced huge destruction and this way we moved to Hotel Ambassador in 2016.
In today’s context, is the restaurant business more about experience than the food?
So far as our restaurant is concerned, food has proved to be more important than the rest. We do not believe in live music as offered by other restaurants; we only believe in a live kitchen. We also validate our authenticity through the presence of a Japanese chef. This has been the trend since our initial days. The chefs from Japan occasionally visit us and we are expecting one next year.
What are the challenges in terms of surviving in the market and growing business?
Earlier when we started this restaurant, there were around 4-5 Japanese restaurants in the city, but now the number has risen to 40. This statistic however has not lowered our footfall; rather every year we see a certain percent rise in the business.
Observing the food scene over the years, where does Kathmandu stand?
The first six months were really hard. We only had customers from the Japanese embassy and the earning was measly. After six months, it gradually picked up in the market and now we are usually full house.
What has been your success mantra?
Hand-picked raw fishes directly imported from Japan have been our USP. Our 90 % ingredients are from Japan. The focal point of the restaurant is the counter seating at the Teppanyaki grill.