BENGALURU:Bengaluru and Karnataka has become quite the hub for Japanese culture. There are many as 1,300 Japanese citizens residing in the city and numerous companies from the country with offices here. Adding yet another distinction to the state’s love for all things Japan is the starting of what is the first Japanese food factory in Karnataka.
Masahiro Monoi used to work for a German furniture company in Tokyo, but always wanted to start a business abroad. “I have been to Germany, Italy and many other places but decided to start a business in India as I fee it is the next big economy and doing business here would be good,” says Masahiro.
With already a thriving Japanese population in the city, Masahiro decided to head here and landed in Karnataka in 2013. Between this time till last year Masahiro researched into getting into the food industry that produces authentic Japanese food using Indian raw materials. From January this year, his venture called Japcul Style began mass production of various food items such as the Miso (a traditional dish made primarily of fermented soyabeans), Shichmi Togarashi (spice mixture of seven ingredients), Mugicha (barley tea) and Dorayaki (traditional red-bean cake.
The small scale factory is based in Mangalore but a number of Masahiro’s clients are in Bengaluru, Chennai and other throughout the country. These includes restaurants and a few distributors of Japanese food in supermarkets and retail stores.
Mohammed Shameem Abbas, one of the directors of the company says that says that there is a huge demand for Japanese food products especially with as many as with over 450 restaurants across the country. “Importing these products from Japan is very costly. Those who need it also import them from even Thailand or Vietnam. But I can tell you that the products we produce are as authentic as those from Japan itself,” he says. Shameem himself lived in Japan for 10 years working for a tech firm before he decided to head home to Mangaluru. He is fluent in Japanese and wanted to start a business with an Indi-Japanese connection. Japcul Style presented a perfect opportunity to him. He joined in 2015 and since then the association has grown stronger.
As of now the factory has the capacity to produce upto 5 tonnes of Miso per month. Although the factory started production in 2014 but this was more on a trial basis. After January the mass production commenced.
The other products are based on the requirement. “One restaurant on an average requires as much as 35 to 40 kilos of Miso. Then there are also Korean and Chinese restaurants,” says Shameem. By next year the company wants to start a Japanese restaurant in Mangaluru.