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LIFE IN JAPAN
Roy Kilner

Roy KilnerOccupation:
Chef/Izakaya Manager

Time in Japan:
8 years




Where are you from?

Nottingham in Great Britain, of Robin Hood fame.

What brought you to Japan?
My wife is Japanese. We met and married in London and then moved here. Before meeting my wife I knew nothing about Japan.

What did you do when you first arrived?
Well, I studied cooking and hotel services in France for six months. My first job in Japan was at a restaurant in Nihonbashi, making French or European cuisine. When I came here my wife introduced me to the manager of a hotel and he fixed me with a job. I was very lucky.

How did you get involved in Japanese cuisine?
I felt that it would be pointless to live in Japan and not learn anything about the food. So I just went and did it. I watched the other chefs, saw what they did, tasted their food, and just did the same thing. No training. Cooking is cooking. Once you' got the basics, everything else just comes with it.

What's the most difficult thing about cooking Japanese food?
The nimono (simmered foods). In European cooking we don't use sugar. When you make nimono, you have to add sake, shoyu, mirin. The balance is difficult.

How did you become involved in the izakaya Obanzaiya?
The restaurant in Nihonbashi where I was working wasn't my style and wasn't very exciting. There was an advertisement in a magazine recruiting a chef for an izakaya. I thought I'd give it a try because I really like izakaya. And now I'm the manager!

What's Obanzaiya's specialty?
Jizake - local sake brewed in a specific area. The menu is washoku (Japanese food) and it's basically food that goes well with sake. I do have English beer, Newcastle Brown to be specific, which is pretty rare for an izakaya, but I need it. Although I love Japan I miss English beer. I like sake too, but I can't drink very much.

What's the restaurant's concept?
Relax. Everyone works hard. You come here, sit down, have some sake and just take it easy.

What do you try to express through your cooking?
It's all at-home style and very simple. Everything is seasonal and the menu changes daily.

What were some of the difficult tasks you faced as a manager of a Japanese izakaya?
Everything. Especially writing the menus. I can't write kanji so that part was difficult. But I've been very lucky because I had no people problems.

What was your strangest experience in Japan?
I got lost outside Tokyo station when I first came. I couldn't speak Japanese and I had no idea where I was. I went to the police box and asked "where am I?" and the police escorted me back to the station. It's not that weird but I was surprised how nice the police were.

What do you like best about Japan?
Izakaya. I just like the friendly, relaxed atmosphere. My favorite izakaya food is nizakana (simmered fish).

What's your recipe for a happy life in Japan?
Don't worry, just take it easy.

Contact Roy at Obanzaiya, 03-3709-9174.

Roy Kilner spoke with Maki Nibayashi.

Do you know an interesting person in Tokyo? If so, email us at maki@tokyoclassified.com

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360: Gustavo Marchesi
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355: Alec McAulay
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352/3: Mary Frenzel
Professional singer / songwriter, bandleader & voice instructor
350: Kate Smurthwaite
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349: Tim Spangler
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348: Robin Rozzell
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347: Marco Invernizzi
Bonsai artist
346: Charles E McJilton
Advocate
345: Chris Chavez
Dancer/Singer
344: Donna Burke
Singer and narrator
343: Dennis Sun
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342: Martin Hope Berry
Natural food shop owner
341: Donald James Berry
Technical Adviser
340: Amy Jorrisch
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339: Anthony Al-Jamie Ph.D.
Education consultant and journalist
338: Joel Silverstein
President of Outback Steakhouse Japan
337: Neal Dauber
Termite and Pest Control Operator
336: Marcus Spurrell
CEO of No Mass Media, Internet Co.
335: Stefan Fanselow
Flight Instructor
334: Colleen Lanki
Theater Artist
333: Ben Leibson
Scuba Diver
332: Bernard Yu
Executive Director of TELL
331: Hayden "Hay-chan" Majajas
Informations Systems Manager
330: Alistair McLachlan
BootsMC Finance manager
329: Ronald Lee Davis
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328: Ed Durbrow
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327: Isabelle Maranda
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326: Brian Marcus
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325: David Baran
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324: Murali Kupusami
Furla Tea & Coffee Owner/Model
323: Angela Jones
Fire Dancer
322: Tim Tsang
Coordinator for International Relations (CIR)
321: Chris Monnier
Drummer
320: David Snyder
President of Rising Crane Sports Consultants, Inc.
319: Juliet Hindell
BBC's Tokyo Correspondent
318: Sid Lloyd
Football team captain
317: Niels Frederik Walther
Chef for the Danish Ambassador
316: Jonathan Katz
Jazz musician and composer
315: Yoichi Hayase
President, True Travel, K.K.
314: Ira Bolden
Program Manager
313: Benjamin Gurnsey
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312: Dr Jonna D. Douglass, PhD
Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist
311: Roy Kilner
Izakaya Manager
310: Neil Day
Senior Software Research Engineer
309: Stuart Ablett
Sakaya Operator
308: Maggie Tai Tucker
Animal Trainer
307: Carmine Cozzoline
Restaurant Owner/Chef
306: Alison Noonan
Cellist
305: Kevin Meyerson
Rainbow Japan Inc. President
304: Randy McGraw
DirecTV Marketing Manager
303: Roy Ron
Researcher
302: Antonio Plozay-Liberatore
Economist/TV Talent
300: Miguel Angel
Bartender

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