Monday, August 20, 2012

Meet Our Sanbiki Team!

             Sanbiki's Christmas/New Years Party brings together staff new and old!

You know their faces but you may not  know their names. This post is dedicated to the hardworking ladies and gentlemen that help us keep it together at Sanbiki, and next door at Mori Mori Grocery.

MEGUMI is usually the first face you'll see when you enter Sanbiki. Is it super busy? Megumi is probably still smiling; an oasis of calm in the controlled chaos. She'll always do her best to make sure you and all of our customers are fed, watered and well-cared for. She has studied here in Kamloops at TRU and also in Shanghai, China! She is originally from Fukushima, Japan.

                   Megumi (right) has been with us for over 3 years. Recognize Chie next to her? Chie left Sanbiki to start a family and restaurant of her own! Her and husband Yuki now own and operate the popular Tiger Ramen in Sahali.

                Chef Hiro is a little crazy, it's a survival strategy out here on planet Sanbiki.....
Chef Hiro joined Sanbiki last year. You'll often see him working at Sanbiki's sushi-making station. Previously, Hiro and his wife Seiko lived and worked in Fiji and Japan. They are the proud parents of beautful Reina-chan, their first daughter now 10 kilos and 10 months old!

                                      Hiro folding Sanbiki's homemade gyoza

Chef Yama came to Kamloops after an extended stay in Mongolia. Working at the Japanese Embassy there gave him the opportunity to cook not just Japanese dishes but to explore other cuisines as well. 
           Chef Yama visits with Reina-chan, daughter of  Hiro and Seiko and the newest
                              member of Sanbiki's extended family

It was natural that Yama was in charge of creating a special menu for a private luncheon recently hosted at Sanbiki by Japanese Consul General Ito from Vancouver!

         Sanbiki's special lunch box for Ito-san and his Kamloops Japanese-Canadian guests

Our newest addition to Sanbiki's professional kitchen crew! Hideki came to Kamloops from Japan just a few months back. We look forward to making the most of his experience and skills in Sanbiki's kitchen.

                                                  Hideki and Aya in Sanbiki's open kitchen

He towers (literally) head and shoulders above the rest of us at Sanbiki! Nigel has lived in Vancouver, Revelstoke and the Kamloops area. He has studied Japanese, and his interest in Japanese cusine and his willingness to learn have made him a valuable member of our kitchen crew.

                     Nigel and Yama prepare take out for Mori Mori Grocery every morning

AYA has been studying at TRU and living in Kamloops for several years. With the recent warm summer weather, she can sometimes be found with daughter Sara enjoying the water park!
    Aya's daughter Sara and her friend at Mori Mori...treats from Tomoko keep them smiling!

YUN HEE speaks Japanese and English, but don't be fooled! She's orgininally from South Korea, so she is...trilingual! She has lived in Japan but now calls Kamloops home. With two teenagers, one husband and a full time job, she is a very busy lady indeed. We're happy to have her onboard!
                                Mao (left) and Yun Hee are day shift regulars at Sanbiki!
ZACK can be found doing prep early in the mornings and also cleaning up late at night. He joined us just this year but he's learning lots. Both Zack and Nigel have expressed an interest in skydiving...Time to consider forming a Sanbiki Skydiving Team? Count me in!
It's a Sanbiki tradition...a DQ birthday cake with Zack, Hiro and Nigel.

You'll also see BEN, MAO, SOLANGE and some other new faces in the kitchen and on the floor. We're always looking for good people and good ideas to help us serve our customers better!

Have we saved the best for last? Mori Mori's many regular customers may think so...

TOMOKO has been with us longer than anyone. She came to us back in 2006 when we opened Sanbiki's sister grocery Mori Mori and has managed it ever since. She helped us with the move from Mori Mori's old location at 749 Victoria to our current space at the corner of Lansdowne and 5th. She works hard to ensure both Mori Mori and Sanbiki run smoothly. She works even harder keeping Masato and Heather organized and up to date with the technology they purchase; pretend to understand, and then ask her to figure out!

                                   "It's easy, boss...point and click....."

          Masato and Heather at the entrance to Sanbiki's beautiful new location at Lansdowne and 5th Avenue. The space was designed and built by Chase-based Daizen Joinery

MASATO is the "Papa Bear" in the Sanbiki cave. Born in Osaka, Japan he spent several years working in Thailand. Before opening Sanbiki in 2002, he apprenticed at Basara, a friends restaurant in Tokyo. He played rugby for many years in Japan and Thailand. These days he's hoping for a few days off to relax and enjoy the great fishing in the Kamloops area...

HEATHER is Sanbiki's resident crazy cat lady, cheerleader and executive dishwasher. Born in Vancouver, she spent several years abroad working as a travel writer, English teacher and as a volunteer on development projects in India and Africa. Strange sweet sushi and Hello Kitty cookies on display for fundraising? Probably her weird work...

Masato and Heather met in Thailand and have been married for 12 years. No kids; just cats...and dogs!
             Our "girls"(Goldie and Saba) always look forward to patio visits with Sanbiki's team!

Thanks for your interest in us! We look forward to seeing you soon at Sanbiki and next door at Mori Mori for groceries and sushi to go!

Monday, August 13, 2012


Nearly everyone who has been in a Japanese restaurant has ordered miso soup. But what are you getting? Chances are you can identify the cubes of tofu that sink to the bottom of the bowl. The tiny rings of green onion floating on the surface are an easy garnish to guess. But the muddy looking paste that is the actual miso? Where did that come from?

                                  Many kinds of miso, all start with the humble soybean

MISO PASTE is made from varying combinations of soybeans, rice, barley and/or other grains. The ingredients are mixed and fermented for anywhere from a few days to several years. "Koji" is added at the beginning and acts as the fermentation culture to start the miso making process. Thousands of different varieies of miso exist, and classifying them can be a challenge. Basically, they can be differentiated by colour and grain type.

                              Red (aka) miso on the left with white (shiro) miso to the right

AKA miso is red miso. A favourite in Tokyo and other areas of Eastern Japan it has a strong, salty flavour due in part to it's relatively long fermentation time. SHIRO miso is sweeter and milder than aka miso. Often called "white" miso, it's commonly used in Osaka and the Kansai area of Western Japan. No hard and fast rules apply regarding the types of miso and how they are used. Misos may be mixed, served in hot or cold preparations, and have a smooth or course texture.

            "Sano Miso" in Tokyo sells hundreds of different miso pastes from all over Japan

Some people make their own miso. It is not difficult, but takes patience and time for the miso to mature. Most Canadians buy prepared miso from their Japanese grocer. Sweeter, mild shiro (white) miso lends itself nicely to seafood marinades and preparations. Red meats stand up well to the strength and saltiness of red miso. Both can be used for miso soup. Other less known but delicious miso pastes include genmai miso made with brown rice. Mugi miso brings barley to the party, and tsubu miso uses whole wheat or barley. Hacho miso is made with almost 100% soybeans and has a rich, earthy flavour. It is almost black in colour.
      Hacho miso ages in 200 year old wooden vats according to a method from 1337

AWASE refers to the "special blend" of misos (usually red and white) that is particular to one family or region. "Awase" means "to adjust", and the proportions of awase miso are altered to suit the tastes and recipes where it is being used. Don't be shy! Try it at home...experimenting is part of the fun.

Miso is excellent for marinating just about anything. Vegetables and tofu served with miso are healthy, tasty meat free options. Japanese eggplant (the long, slender variety) is superb when grilled after a long rest in a miso marinade....
                                            Drooling over my keyboard even as I type...YUM.

MISO SOUP is miso paste mixed with DASHI (a Japanese stock). The soup is often garnished with fresh or deep fried tofu, green onion, spinach or seaweed and in some cases clams or shellfish. A staple in Japan, miso soup can show up at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Many instant varieties are available that do not require refrrigeration.

DASHI is a Japanese stock made from konbu (dried kelp), niboshi (small dried fish) and katsuboshii (shaved, dried tuna). Specialty dashi varieties are available that do not contain seafood (seaweed only and vegan) or ones that are flavoured with mushroom, fish etc. At Sanbiki, we use homemade dashi.

        Masato makes dashi with dried tuna, konbu (kelp) and niboshi (small dried fish)

DIY miso recipes are easy! For soup it is possible to buy DASHI MISO which has dashi stock mixed in with the miso. Just add hot water and garnish. Easy! We sell many kinds of miso at Mori Mori Grocery, but dashi miso is the favourite for fans of miso soup.

You can also buy powdered dashi, (or make it yourself) and then mix it with your preferred miso paste. Be careful not to boil the soup after adding the miso. It is said that boiling miso spoils the taste. High temperatures also kill off the microorganisms that help make miso such a healthy food. Some people add miso to sauces and foods after they have cooled believing this maximizes miso's health benefits.


Miso paste can be refrigerated after opening. It lasts a long time (months!) if it's kept covered in the fridge. Like some kinds of cheese, mould that forms on the surface can be scraped off and the product underneath remains usable.

Dashi miso is not usually used for marinating as it has a seafood stock already added. It is only used for miso soup.

Miso soup is not eaten with a spoon in Japan. It is entirely acceptable to drink from the bowl, using one's chopsticks to pick out any tasy solid tidbits in the soup.

Miso can be used by iteself (or combined with mayonaisse) for a deliciously different dip. Cucumber, carrots and other veggies work especially well!