When Kaori Dawson decided to set up a Japanese yakitori food stall on Bury St Edmunds Market she was determined not to anglicise it.
Her husband Guy, who met her in her home town of Kanazawa 19 years ago, explained: “The Indian and Chinese restaurants here have adapted themselves for here. She decided it must be Japanese and if people didn’t like it, we’d close it down. Luckily, people like it.”
They live in Bury and Kaori began Yakatori Suzuki on the Saturday market last July but has found people like it so much she will be coming on Wednesdays, too, from Easter.
Suzuki is Kaori’s maiden name. Yakatori is the Japanese for skewered meat, which includes belly of pork strips, meatballs and chicken thigh.
It is cooked on an imported Japanese charcoal grill, whose ceramic sides direct the heat up to the food while remaining cool enough to touch.
“I miss Japanese food myself and this kind of char-grilled meat is popular everywhere,” she said. “I don’t think many people know about it, but I have regular customers.”
Guy adds: “A lot of Americans come here. They’ve been on the base at Okinawa, so they know what they’re doing.
“I think the English look at Japanese food and think it’s spicy.”
But Kaori stresses: “It’s not spicy food. It’s a very mild taste and you have to have really good ingredients.”
Even her Japanese curry and rice is a mild one.
Japanese food generally is cooked in a way that brings out the natural flavours of the food, which means having good quality meat from St Edmundsbury Butchers. Most of the chicken she uses is thigh meat, which the Japanese value more highly than chicken breast, for its better flavour .
She will not use paraffin-based fire lighters because it affects the fine flavour.
The mixture of yakitori and rice triangles I tried had only Kaori’s soy-based ‘secret sauce’ to bring out the flavours of the lightly cooked meat and spring onions. The sauce still allowed the delicate flavour of the rice to come through in the char-grilled rice triangles.
A favourite for regulars is the Japanese breakfast, served until 11.30am. It includes the rice triangles, miso soup, mooli pickles and slices of a Japanese omlet called tamagoyaki, which is made by constantly folding over the cooking egg mixture in the pan.
Kaori also has her Suzuki Supper Club at home, offering a wider range of Japanese food. Visit www.suzukisupperclub.com