On the Road: A Note about Takehiro Wadaman

A quick shout-out, scribbled on a train.

April 13, 2016 ● 1 min read

Chef Greg Dunmore is currently trekking through Japan on the latest sourcing mission for his new importing business, The Japanese Pantry, and checking in here along the way. 

On the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto | April 11, 2016 

The Japanese Pantry would not exist without Takehiro Wadaman.  

He and I met at Nojo about three years ago, while he was visiting San Francisco promoting small Japanese producers who wanted to import into the US. Takehiro’s 133-year-old family company, Wadaman, makes sesame everything in Osaka. Once I fell in love with his amazing black sesame paste, I told him I was making a trip.

And I did, with my wife and our 10-month-old son. Takehiro picked us up at our hotel at 7am and took us to the Osaka Central fish market, where we ate sushi and my son chowed down on uni and ikura for breakfast. Next was his friend's katsuobushi shop and to his other friend’s konbu shop. After an amazing lunch, we finally saw his sesame factory...incredible. I had never tasted sesame seeds so fresh. The fresh-pressed sesame oils were reminiscent of the best extra-virgin olive oils I'd had. To end the day right, Takehiro took me to his friend’s yakitori shop — Sumiyakikoubou 'GEN’ — a place that has become one of my all-time favorite restaurants.

We both wanted to import his sesame products to the States, but the logistics were challenging to say the least; he had a business to take care of, and I had a restaurant to run. Despite that, our friendship blossomed and we kept in touch, visiting our respective homes when traveling and keeping the dream alive. When my partner Chris Bonomo and I finally opened The Japanese Pantry, the first thing I did was send him to Takehiro. When he saw what I had seen at Wadaman, he too was blown away.

Takehiro has opened the door for us. He takes time out of his crazy schedule to introduce us to his friends, who all happen to make amazing products. Thanks to him, they are the ones we're visiting on this trip, in order to bring you more of what these artists in Japan have to offer.

—Greg Dunmore