When we think restaurant tech, images of hardware and computer screens come to mind: tablets, POS systems, delivery apps. Even when food is first and foremost, it’s far less often that we consider technology as it relates to a dish itself.
That’s not the case at Temaki Den, a new sushi bar in Denver’s Source Market Hall and the latest effort from the Den Corner Restaurant Group. The compact bar specializes in hand rolls and its sushi chefs are stringent about their product; diners are expected to devour the cylindrical hand rolls immediately, while the nori is perfectly crispy. But in an age when takeout is a must, how do you ensure the seaweed wrapper doesn’t turn from shatterable to soggy on the trip to diners’ doorsteps?
Kenta Kamo, Temaki Den’s managing partner, knew the solution, but putting it into practice proved more difficult than expected. In Japan, disposable cellophane sushi wrappers envelop the nori and form a barrier between it and the rice. There are different styles of these wrappers, and Kamo says it took six months just to find a supplier willing to ship to the U.S. “The reason it was so difficult to source was because all the big-box convenience stores in Japan (7-Eleven, Lawson, etc.) have their hand roll packaging design patented to their brand,” he explains.
The wrapper Temaki Den finally settled on allows off-premise customers to unwrap the cellophane and execute a series of maneuvers that are simple to do but impossible to briefly describe in writing (check out the instructional video below). Then, at-homers are in possession of a hand roll that retains its integrity, even after an overnight stay in the fridge—if it lasts that long.
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