Okubo says the pandemic represented a “turning point” for the company, leading it to contemplate new ideas in the hospitality sector—which included adapting its restaurants for take-out and delivery service. The goal, he says, is for the company to move beyond restaurants, while educating consumers on the value of “washoku” (which translates roughly to “harmony in food”).
Aburi will specialize in prepared foods such as those found in the company’s two main restaurants, Miku and Minami. Its product assortment includes fresh sushi, made-to-order bowls, sliced-to-order Iwate Prefecture A5 wagyu beef, and desserts. “We’re basically bringing restaurant-quality food into grocery prep and go,” says Okubo.
The store’s opening comes as the appetite for Japanese food has soared in major markets like Vancouver, which earlier this year was dubbed “the sushi capital of the world” by online food magazine Chef’s Pencil—ranking first on a list of most sushi-crazed cities outside of Japan.
Prepared foods will account for between 65% to 70% of Aburi Market’s product assortment, says Okubo, complemented by frozen meal kits, imported sauces, snacks, and candies. It will also feature lifestyle products such as high-end knives and handmade Arita-Yaki plates.