Passions Gala – Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation
Written by Erica Pang
On Sunday September 11th, Vancouver food and wine lovers gathered for the 8th annual Passions Gala to raise funds for the Dr. Peter Aids Centre — a hospice providing care and support to people living with HIV/AIDS. 24 of the city’s top restaurants participated in the fundraiser including: Hawksworth, Cibo, Market at the Shangri-la, Ensemble, Provence and many more. At Miku restaurant, we are pleased to support this great cause.
Nathan Fong founded the Passions Gala in 2003, and has grown the event from its humble beginnings as a small cooking class. Today, it has earned the reputation as “Vancouver’s Best Small Gala,” and this year was no exception. The Dr. Peter Aids Centre transformed into an elegant space, adorned with red lanterns, fresh flower arrangements and twinkling lights. The event was hosted by Global TV’s Sophie Lui and Jay Janower with CBC’s Fred Lee as the auctioneer. The musical duo, Sangre Morena and their flamenco guitar serenaded the crowd with beautiful and fiery Latin tunes. One of the highlights of the event was the participation of the city’s top chefs, where they got to showcase their signature dishes. It was a extravagant culinary feast! Upon entering the building, guests were greeted with poutine from the food cart Fresh Local Wild and sushi from Mr. Hidekazu Tojo himself. The food was endless and every dish did not cease to amaze. My personal favourites were the Sloping Hill pressed pork with peach compote from Hawksworth and the scallop ceviche with nahm jim sauce from Maenam. It was a spectacular night filled with good food, good wine and good company. A gracious thank you and congratulations to Nathan Fong and the Dr. Peter Aids Centre!
The Dr Peter Aids Foundation was founded in 1992 with a mission to provide comfort care for people living with HIV/AIDS. To fulfil their vision, a day health program was established in 1997 at St Paul’s Hospital in Downtown Vancouver. The lease was only a temporary agreement, and in 2001 the foundation successfully completed a $9.8 million campaign to build a new four storey building at 1100 Comox Street. In 2003, the construction was complete. Today, the Dr. Peter Aids Centre provides care, programs and services to over 350 Day Health Program participants and 50 residents annually.
For more information or to donate please click here.
Japanese Greetings and Callbacks
Why do we greet you with an energetic ‘irasshaimase‘ ? It is our way of life!
The moment you step through the doors at Miku, you will learn that it is a very lively, high-volume and energetic environment. Guest services will greet you with “irasahaimase,”
then the chefs and front-of-house team instantaneously come alive by responding with a welcoming callback. This style of greeting is very common in Japan and is used in almost all facets of the service industry. Miku’s roots run deep in Miyazaki, Japan. Owner, Seigo Nakamura wanted to showcase this traditional style of greeting in Vancouver to pay tribute to his Japanese culture.
For the Miku team, it is more than just keeping the tradition alive — it is our way of communication — it is our way of life! Without this system, we simply could not maintain our level of service. Not only does this help us run from an operational standpoint, it helps to build our team spirit. It is a deep understanding of how each and everyone of our team members is working. It holds people accountable. It is about respect. General Manager, Tony Albertson describes it as ‘a gift we give to our guests, showing that we are ready to go above and beyond to take care of them.’ Here are the four most common types of greeting we use during service:
irasshaimase (e-rah-shahy-mah-seh) – This is used when a guest has arrived at the restaurant. Guest Services will project this to the entire room and the rest of the staff will respond back with the same greeting in confirmation. This gives us an idea of how many guests are coming in and gives us the opportunity to adjust our speed to accommodate the influx. Most importantly, this greeting is used to show that we are aware of your arrival. It is our way to greet you with compassion, and to let you know we are welcoming you not only into our restaurant but into our hearts.
onegaishimasu (oh-neh-gai-shee-mah-su) – Like many phrases in Japanese, Onegaishimasu (literally translating to “please” ) holds a much deeper meaning. When putting in orders the server will call out this phrase to ensure the kitchen or bar is aware of a new order. By doing so, the server is not only conveying please and thank you, but is showing respect to the person who is putting their heart and soul into the food. Onegaishimasu is also used by the chefs when an item is ready to be brought to the table; it ensures that the front of house is aware that food is ready for the guests.
hai (high) – This is the response to onegaishimasu meaning “yes I hear and I understand.” Once the server has rung in the order, the kitchen will respond with “hai.” The vigor of the chefs reply is to show awareness and confidence to prepare the order. When the chefs put up their food on the pass and say onegaishimasu, the front of house staff will respond clearly with hai. This is to acknowledge the passion and dedication that the chefs have put into each and every dish. In doing so, hai, helps to unify and build positive communication between the front and back of house.
arigato gozaimashita (ah-ree-gah-toh goh-zai-mah-shee-tah) – This phrase is vocalized to guests upon exiting the restaurant. The ringing of arigato gozaimashita around the restaurant informs every staff member on the floor of how the flow of guests is progressing. This readies the staff for next wave of guests. It literally means thank you very much, and is used to show our deep appreciation for each guest.
How do we prepare ourselves vocally and mentally for service? By performing this group chant every morning at 11:30. Watch General Manager, Tony Albertson lead the Miku family in this video!
These phrases are our livelihood. Without them, Miku wouldn’t be where it is today. We want our guests to understand that every time we use these greetings and call backs, it is coming from our heart. Next time you dine at Miku, we encourage you to join in to gain a better understanding of your dining experience as a whole. Arigato Gozaimashita!
Genmaicha: The Perfect Cup of Tea
Have you ever lifted up the lid of your teapot at Miku? You may be surprised at what it looks like — bits of delicate dried green leaves, grains of toasted brown rice and small popcorn. You are not just drinking regular green tea, its proper name is genmaicha and it directly translates in English to brown rice tea. Also known as popcorn tea, it was traditionally only drank by the lower class in Japan, as the rice served as a filler and reduced the price of tea. Another interesting fable of how it came to be tells the story of a malnourished servant who stuffed puffed rice into his kimono sleeve. When he was serving tea to his master, little grains of rice fell down his sleeve into the cup. Though the servant was punished for brewing an improper cup of tea, what his master didn’t know, was that genmaicha would become one of the most popular green tea variations to be served in Japanese restaurants hundreds of years later.
The flavour of genmaicha is smooth, nutty and sweet. It is the perfect sidekick to a plate of sushi. The little green leaves in the genmai cha called sencha is the most popular type of green tea in Japan, and counts for 80 percent of their tea production. The tea leaves are grown in full sunlight, and after harvesting, it goes through a 3-step process — steaming, drying and sorting. It differs from the other popular type of green tea, matcha, which is grown in the shade and stone-ground into a soft, fine powder. The sencha is mixed with roasted rice, and during firing, some of the kernels pop into popcorn. The scent of the toasted rice gives genmaicha the warm, rich and earthy aroma in every sip.
Not only does genmaicha have a pleasant taste, it is beneficial for your body and mind. It contains only 50 milligrams of caffeine, a lot less than a cup of coffee, but just enough to give you the restorative energy boost in the morning; it provides loads of antioxidants, which help cleanse the body of toxins too. Genmaicha is also believed to improve bones and increase insulin in your body, which makes it an ideal choice for those suffering from diabetes. Most importantly, genmaicha is said to calm our minds. The tea contains an amino acid known as theanine, affecting the neurotransmitters in the brain which reduce mental and physical stress on the brain.
“Inhale deeply. Drink your tea. Enjoy your life.”
Are you breaking the rules when eating sushi?
Written by Erica Pang
Impress our sushi chefs with these etiquette tips
If there is one thing I always miss when I am away from Vancouver, it is definitely sushi. It doesn’t matter where I am in the world, sushi never lives up to the Vancouver standard (although I have never been to Japan). We are so fortunate to have access to fresh seafood and sushi whenever we crave for it, and this is something we should never take for granted. Like most Vancouverites, sushi has been and will always be a part of my regular diet.
In my pre-Miku years, as in years before I started working at Miku, I thought I was pretty much a sushi expert. It wasn’t until I joined the Miku team, I became aware of such a thing as sushi etiquette. Yes, there is a right or wrong way to eat sushi. I mean, is it actually really that surprising considering Japan is a country so rich in culture and traditions? Well, I had no idea and slowly my Japanese co-workers began to enlighten me about the nuances of Japanese dining. Please remember this is only a guide on how to eat sushi, not a strict set of rules or absolutes. You can eat sushi any way you want, ultimately, you are the one eating it so enjoy it!
Rule #1 - It’s okay to use your fingers
Most of us can’t imagine eating sushi without the fun of using chopsticks – it makes the experience complete. There are definitely certain items you should eat with chopsticks, like sashimi, but in terms of nigiri and maki – it’s OKAY to use your fingers. The proper way is to gently cradle the piece of nigiri on both sides between your thumb and middle finger and your index finger on top.
Rule #2 – Dip the fish in the soy sauce, NOT the rice.
NEVER dip the rice directly in the soy sauce, only dip the neta (fish). The rice will act like a sponge and soak up too much soy sauce that it will be overly salty and the flavour of the fish will be lost. I admit, I used to drench my piece of sushi in soy sauce until my soy dish had clumps of rice floating all around it – now I know that less is more.
Rule #3 – Eat it in one bite
Miku sushi chefs always stress to eat their creations in one bite. Ingredients are put together for a reason. They are carefully chosen, so when all of the ingredients are combined they create a whole other level of flavour. For example, the jalepeno on our Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi plays an important role to help cut the creaminess of the Miku sauce; when taken in one bite, it creates a perfect harmony of flavours – creamy, spicy, salty and sweet.
Rule #4 – Eat the garnishes, in fact, eat everything
At Miku, we serve all of our sashimi dishes with grated daikon and shiso leaf. It is ideal to eat both. Lightly dipping them in soy sauce between bites of the sashimi will help freshen the palate. This fact also applies to the gari (pickled ginger), often served with maki or nigiri. Cleansing the palate before moving onto the next piece will let you taste subtle differences in the various kinds of fish.
Rule # 5 – Learn a few Japanese phrases
Next time you are sitting at the Miku sushi bar, burst out these two phrases – the chefs will LOVE it! Before diving into your dish, say “Itadakimasu!” (ee-tah-dah-kee-mahs). It means, “let’s eat!” This phrase is used to express your appreciation, from the person who prepared your food, all the way to the farmer who harvested the rice. When you are finished the meal, say “Gochisousama deshita!” (goh-chee-soh-sah-mah deh-shee-tah). It loosely translates to “thank you for the meal, it has been a feast!”
There you have it, a few basic facts on sushi etiquette. Next time when you dine at a sushi restaurant, look around and observe how everyone is eating their sushi. Is anyone using their fingers? Are they eating it in one bite? Is their piece of nigiri drenched in soy sauce? Remember, the Miku sushi chefs will not take offence – this is just to offer some insight into the depth of tradition that surrounds a sushi dining experience. So next time you say “itadakimasu“, remember these points and take the opportunity to make a good impression on the Chef and your dining partners.
Squirrel POS Software and Apple iPad
We have successfully integrated the Squirrel POS software on Apple Ipad in our restaurant, and we couldn’t be more excited! With it’s easy navigation and intuitive manner, the Miku staff have had a smooth and easy transition from our previous POS terminals. Eventually, we will take this system and implement it in all of our North American locations – watch out for it!
Please click HERE for the official press release.