With about 10,000 kilometers separating Ireland and Japan, it would not be absurd to assume that the cultural divide between the two nations is just as wide. But delving deeper, the two countries have found shared values, particularly in the importance given to family and traditions.
“I always felt that the Irish are well matched with the Japanese, particularly with the people from Osaka,” said Yamamori Group Director and General Manager Graham Ryan, who worked in Japan for five years. Long before the ramen craze gripped the globe, Ryan’s father opened the group’s first ramen outlet in Dublin nearly 25 years ago.
“As a foreigner living in Osaka, I always felt that people over there showed genuine interest in my story. There is definitely a parallel between the free spirit of the Irish and the jovial nature of Osakans,” he added.
Since returning to Ireland, the younger Ryan has taken over the family business, overseeing four Japanese food outlets, which include the original ramen joint, a sushi restaurant and two busy bars, Yamamori Izakaya and Yamamori Tengu, which popularized sake among Dubliners.
As business continues to grow, the group has made a strong commitment to differentiate itself by securing its own importing license that allows them to source the best ingredients directly from Japan, as well as craft sake, craft beer and Japanese whisky.
Carrying on the tradition of introducing the latest Japanese flavors to Ireland and maintaining its standing as a melting pot of Irish and Japanese culture, Yamamori has partnered with Hitachino, one of Japan’s last independent craft breweries, and also opened a Japanese whisky bar in October.
“We have our own reserves of Japanese whisky that you probably can’t even buy in London or New York,” Ryan said.
“We are looking to expand — when and if the right opportunity were to arise,” Ryan added.