Mr Harada, Director of Global Kitchen Limited, Manager and Chef in Kyo-ya
Mr Harada has been surrounded by many customers and business partners as he has tried his best every day. His honesty and positive mind have attracted people, and his business skills that has been made of his experience as both a Japanese chef and manager succeed the Japanese restaurant in Takapuna.
─ What did you do in your country?
I had been working as a traditional Japanese chef at a“Ikesu” restaurant in Japan.
“Ikesu” is a fish tank pool. At the restaurant, we had large Ikesu pools. When I was a junior chef, it was bit hard to catch mackerels with a scoop net; as they know they are getting caught and swim away quickly. Then I cooked the fresh fishes and served as Sashimi or Tempura.
After 13 years working, I opened a Yakitori restaurant in Osaka. It was a kind of free style local restaurant. Luckily many customers from the local area and foreigners visited there. I found it was important to bond with customers by ‘give and take.’ They were willing to help me by taking orders and bringing the food. Sometimes I asked them to cook Yakitori and they really enjoyed doing it. We had really good time together.
Ah, they called me ‘Red Taisho’ (Taisho means a Master of a Japanese restaurant). Because, you know, I had a red face.
─ Why did you choose NZ ?
Through the experience at the Yakitori restaurant, I thought that if I could speak more English, more possibility would be arise. At the time I couldn’t really speak English. Actually when someone was talking to me in English, I replied just ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. I didn’t even know the basics, so I decided to go to New Zealand to learn and gain English knowledge using a Working Holiday Visa.
─What did you do in NZ before starting business?
First half a year I had just kept watching TV to learn English, but, it didn’t make any progress. However it was first long holidays for me since I started working, so I just enjoyed it. To be honest, my girlfriend at that time felt upset though. But I’m always positive! Nothing negative at that time. Then I went to an English language school for only Japanese students for one year.
After graduation, I worked with a famous top chef at a Japanese restaurant for half year. It was benefit for me to work with the top chef and I learned from him a lot. Then, when I was walking along K’road, I passed a small Japanese restaurant and saw a chef working in the hall. I always wanted to improve my English, so I felt that’s a great idea. So I asked if I can work there immediately, and happily I managed to work at the restaurant as both hall staff and chef. After that, ‘Sharaku’ Japanese restaurant supported me to obtain a work visa for two years. Honestly I had thought I would go back to Japan to open new own shop, but I started thinking it’s going to be better to stay and live in NZ.
In 2004-2005, NZ announced they supported the current workers to give permit of Permanent Residency to reach the numbers they were supposed to. Immigration sent me a letter saying that they wanted to support me. It doesn’t happen nowadays but at that time it happened! They actually gave me a Permanent Residency after just 2 weeks!
─Why did you decide to start the business?
Getting PR let me lead new steps. I can run business on my own because I can control responsibilities by myself. When I was a work visa holder, I couldn’t start own business.
Then, again, when I was walking on street, I happened to pass a Japanese Okonomiyaki restaurant and saw a notice which said FREE BUSINESS. I could hardly believe my eyes. Seriously I walked to and fro in front of the restaurant more than 10 times. Soon I found out it had some problems but it’s still good opportunity for me. So I decided to obtain the restaurant business for FREE and ran a Japanese restaurant ‘Ryoma’. Following that, I bought and sold several Japanese restaurants. Now I run ‘Kyo-ya’ in Takapuna.
─What were the steps?
Everytime I buy a restaurant, I always check numbers on the documents. I judge if the business would go well looking at the numbers, the place and the customers. Next thing is only to focus on changing and improving. There is already everything needed, such as kitchen equipment, tables and chairs. This way has been my style. I think it is really efficient and it suits running restaurant business in NZ.
─What are the difficulties? How did you overcome the problems?
The most important thing is to keep the staff motivated, to collect their power to my direction. To accomplish this, I always try to show my attitude as the model of our company. I clean up toilets, and kneel to wipe the floor. I enjoy working at the restaurant.
─What are the business points?
We focus on customers first. We want to hear ‘Wow!’ from customers. So we produce gorgeous Japanese foods and a high quality service that makes your time lively and comfortable.
─What is the future vision?
I want to open Japanese restaurants in other countries too. It would be the same style of buying a business and improve it.
─What do you want to tell people who live in NZ?
For Kiwi, I recommend you to visit and live in Japan once to feel our unique culture.
For Japanese in NZ, I would say, if you try your best every day, something happy happens. I have lived in that way, and always everyone around me has helped me. Hope the day when we can do everything by ourselves (Japanese) in NZ comes someday.
– What is your favourite spot in Japan and NZ? Why?
In Japan, my favourite spot is Osaka Aquarium in Tempozan. I recommend the night tour, it is beautiful. When I go there, I’m thinking this fish puts on fat or that one looks good to serve.
Osaka Aquarium URL : http://www.kaiyukan.com/language/eng/
In NZ, I like Queenstown because I feel that’s THE sightseeing spot. I love the weather and scenery. I have been Queenstown more than five times but I always enjoyed there pretty much, because every time I forgot what I have visited there! So I can always experience like new.
Kyo-ya Japanese Restaurant
Address: 426 Lake Road, Takapuna, Auckland
Tel: 09 489 2312
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 12pm – 2pm
Mon-Fri 6pm – 9:30pm
Sat- Sun 6pm-9pm