I was born in Hong Kong to a business expat: My Father was a stock trader-turned tuna exporting businessman working in the Philippines and Indonesia whilst my Mother owned several Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong and Manila. I’m actually a 3rd generation restaurateur – my Samurai great grandfather started the business when the Samurai was modernised in the Meiji era by the Emperor. My great grandfather opted to receive the estate and turned it over to a fine dining traditional Japanese restaurant. The guests were from political backgrounds, as well as merchants enjoying the traditional food with geishas and there are even records of European officers visiting too. It was definitely like a story of Madama Butterfly or Cho-cho san.
I grew up helping in my Mum’s restaurants since I was a teenager, learning the family recipes and eventually cooking in the kitchen.
I met my husband whilst studying at Plymouth University, he is from Edinburgh so we got married in Japan and then moved back to his hometown! I went to cookery school to learn British and European cuisine, working in several restaurants including Michelin starred The Kitchin, before working in house as the private chef for the Consulate General of Japan where I cooked for reception parties and private dinners for guests, as well as doing cooking demonstrations to spread the awareness of true Japanese cooking.
Then the opportunity to host a stall at the Stockbridge Market in Edinburgh came up and I jumped at the chance. We started with Japanese Gyoza dumplings and Udon noodle stir fry and then went on to open our first authentic Japanese restaurant in Edinburgh – Harajuku Kitchen, but I still continue to do the street food stall and festivals with my husband. I now manage the restaurant and do all the menu and recipe development and do the street food during the weekend. I don’t think I could give up doing the street food as well! I love the street food scene in Edinburgh as it’s so vibrant, and a true social phenomenon, I love the vibe of the market stall holders and the relationship and friendship we made through the street food. It’s totally different from the restaurant. I really love it!