Friday, August 20, 2010

HM Burn baby burn

Scary stuff out here in the interior. Forest fires raging everywhere and it makes for a very smoky Kamloops. Even the dogs don't want to go outside and customers seem to be on the same page. Not completely deserted for lunch today, but not great either. Lots of regulars; thanks to Bryce and Michelle, Rob (and all the MJB boys and girls) Larry and others who helped make the afternoon enjoyable.

New dinner combo menu is a hit. Customers can choose their own sushi combos with dozens of possible combinations. Starting at $13 (which includes 2 rolls, miso soup, green salad and tea) they make for a healthy and reasonably priced meal. Doing some advertising now too which will hopefully get the word out.

Things difficult right now for everyone. Price is so important. Of course price is always important but these days it seems to be the deciding factor regarding how many people spend. Everyone wants to save; and I am no different. I'm on a first name basis with half the staff at Dollarama. Which Dollarama? The one in Lansdowne Village of course. I've shopped enough dollar stores to know where the good ones are... Strolling the low-lit, spacious aisles of Safeway in search of exotic flavours of Fancy Feast for our cats is a luxury that I rarely indulge. They get leftovers from the restaurant like the rest of us.

If anything good comes out of hard times, it is perhaps that we are forced to waste less, and reorganize to become more efficient. When the economy improves, we will hopefully be in a better position to grow. And things will improve. When they will improve is anybody's guess. And at this point, I think the economists, politicians and "experts" are doing just that; "guessing" as to whether or not the recession is over...or just beginning?

Never mind, enough doom and gloom. We have a great team at Sanbiki that do their best to take care of our customers. The "Sanbiki Service Industry Experience" is certainly not for everyone! Those who survive the first week usually stick with it and they are "keepers". We couldn't do it without them. On the other hand more than one "newbie" has gone MIA after their first shift, never to be heard from again...sometimes they are so shell-shocked they don't come back for their paycheck and we have to mail it out!

This month has seen something of a shake up on the Sanbiki schedule. Chie has entered her final month of pregnancy and has finished at the restaurant until after baby is born. Everyone is so happy for her! We will keep in touch with her and hope that in the future she will rejoin the team.

Danielle is away on a cross-Canada adventure for a month or so. Customers ask "Where's the girl with the cool dreads?" We don't know exactly...but we hope she is enjoying herself wherever she is. Come back soon...or eventually, anyway!

Soon-ja, Kishino and Jeff are Masato's support in our big, beautiful open kitchen. Soon-ja worked for us years ago at the old location but then had to return home to South Korea. Eventually, she and her partner came back to Kamloops to settle. We are delighted to have her back at the new and improved Sanbiki. She makes amazing homemade kim chi (a spicy Korean pickled veggie dish) and is introducing us to the flavours and traditions of Korean cuisine.

Kishino was born in Kyoto, Japan. Kyoto was once the capital of Japan and is famous for its food. "Kaiseki" cuisine is an ancient, traditional style of dining with guests enjoying many small courses of exquisitely arranged dishes made from the freshest, usually local, ingredients. Great care is taken with the presentation of the food and the season is always reflected in the Chef's choice of dishware and garnishes. Kishino appreciates this attention to detail and has also had experience with macrobiotic, vegan and gluten-free cooking. You may sometimes see her selling her homebaked treats at the Kamloops Farmers Market!

Jeff is the newest addition to the kitchen crew. Bred and Born in B.C. he has been in Kamloops for close to 10 years. He is picking things up quickly and learning the weird and (sometimes!) wonderful Sanbiki Way....Rumour has it BBQ is still his first love...We'll fix THAT!

School is going back soon and the Sanbiki student staff will have to do some schedule shuffling. Megumi has already graduated from TRU and may take some night courses but will stay on full time in the fall. She has also studied in Bejing and Shanghai and can speak Mandarin, Japanese and English. I speak English. Only. And not that well... Sigh! Megumi recently went home for a holiday to Fukushima in northern Japan. She returned to Kamloops bearing gifts...specialty sweets and dried seafood from her hometown. Delicious, and it's always fun for us to try new things!

Jessica is studying at TRU so back to school soon...BUT she will stick with us on a part time basis. Juicy Jessica tidbits I'll bet you didn't know...she was a Rodeo Queen and keeps on riding albeit now on a volunteer basis with a local therapeutic association. We had a nasty cut in the kitchen last week and it turns out Jessica once worked as a life guard and has had first aid/emergency care training! She took care of Sayuri's cut...good thing too...I faint at even the hint of blood....

As most of you know, when we relocated to our new location we brought our grocery store Mori Mori together with Sanbiki at the corner of 5th and Lansdowne. Tomoko is our manager and has been with us since the start. She has helped us establish the grocery and build relationships with our many regular customers. She is helping us do more at the store in our new location. We have an Asian take out deli at the store with sushi made fresh daily at Sanbiki. Tomoko knows loads about the products at Mori Mori and can help you find whatever you need to create your own Asian recipes at home.

We have expanded our line of products at Mori Mori to include dishware, Korean and Chinese products and are selling a lot more sushi quality seafood products. Local, sustainably sourced tuna and salmon are Oceanwise certified and can be served raw or cooked. We have lots of Japanese snacks and sweets that are superpopular with our young customers. Ever heard of Ramune, Pocky or Pocari Sweat? Have you met the Happy Cow or chewed up a White Rabbit? Chances are your son or daughter has.

Its amazing the number of young people interested in Asian culture and cuisine. They are studying Japanese in Kamloops high schools and some apply for educational exchanges with cities in Japan. Tell them to meet you at Uji Way and they know Uji is our sister city. They know the difference between sushi and sashimi and when they come to the restaurant we do our best to spoil them silly. Like all of our guests. We have a diverse clientele but they all appreciate quality. And its our job to make sure they get it.

Thats all for this entry..stay tuned for more on Mori Mori and Sanbiki!

is alwa

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