America's favorite Japanese foods are undoubtedly sushi and ramen, but in recent years the country has begun to embrace the dishes—and drinks—of traditional izakayas. These centers of drinking and revelry began in Japan as glorified liquor stores, then evolved into gastropubs, perfect for congregating with friends and coworkers to drink and snack all night long.
To celebrate the opening of Kemuri Tatsu-Ya, Austin's new izakaya from the team behind the excellent Ramen Tatsu-Ya, filmmaker Christian Remde shot this gorgeous little ode to the izakaya concept. We recently spoke with Remde about the film and his love of Japanese food.
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On exploring beyond ramen and sushi
After visiting Japan as a kid, Remde became obsessed with Japanese culture and food. "I feel like, too often in America, Japanese food is all heaped into one pile which is usually sushi (and more recently ramen), but there is so much more to their cuisine," he says. "The traditional Japanese izakaya is a great place to start as they usually serve food that is seasonal and regional, so the menu is always changing and you can try different food in different regions." On the cultural importance of izakayas
The filmmaker sees izakayas as more than bars or restaurants—they're extensions of people's homes in Japan. "Your local izakaya becomes your place to entertain, bring friends or co-workers together, and have a good time," he explains. "It’s a home away from home, and those kinds of places are so important."
On the relationship between food and drink
To Remde, the two go hand in hand at an izakaya. "I never really thought about how the drinking aspect of the experience is so closely tied to the eating aspect," he says. "Visiting an izakaya is all about taking your time, having a drink, a little bit to eat, another drink and so on."
On working with the Austin-based Tatsu-Ya team
The Austin resident was thrilled to work with the team behind his favorite local ramen shop, Ramen Tatsu-Ya. "It’s tough to find a really traditional izakaya in the U.S. and so when one was opening up in Austin, I jumped at the opportunity to create something," he explains. "The Tatsu-ya team opened the first really authentic ramen house in Austin about five years ago and I’ve been one of their biggest fans ever since."
On the film's quick turnaround
The new film came together seemingly in a flash. "We started talking about the project last summer while they were building the restaurant and working on the menu," he says. "We shot in the weeks leading up to their opening, through the soft open and even into the first weeks of their opening."