World Chef: Sushi chef finds success in Australian country town

Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:30pm EDT
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By Pauline Askin

SYDNEY (Reuters) - When Masaaki Koyama opened his sushi shop in Geeveston, a small town in southern Tasmania that survives mainly on lumber and apple growing, he had to step outside to offer samples to locals to encourage them to try his hand-made sushi rolls.

Now, three years later, his name is so well known on Australia's most southern island state that customers form snake-like, endless queues to buy his tasty delights.

Part of the success is the attraction of watching Koyama make some of the hundreds of rolls of sushi he prepares every day. He offers up to nine varieties of sushi, and miso soup laced with home grown vegetables and Inari (bean curd), stuffed with chopped beetroot, carrot and mushrooms, stir fried in sesame oil and mixed with sesame seeds and sushi rice.

Koyama spoke with Reuters about his business and how he made it a success.

Q: Was it risky setting up business so far from Hobart's tourist trail, where locals may not be familiar with sushi?

A. "Yes, I was very nervous. It took me about six months to have the courage to go ahead and do it. After living in Tasmania for about a year I took a stall at 'Taste of the Huon' annual food festival and it went very well so I thought, ahh maybe it will be ok!"

Q: Who are your customers?

A: "In the first three years mainly locals and forestry workers, but now quite a lot of people travel down from Hobart (60 kilometers or 37 miles away) and tourists pop in when they're passing through."   Continued...