Fortieth Anniversary in New York, Taste Loved by "Queen of Punk""OMEN" of Kyoto Origin Pursues the Joy of Japanese Cuisine Across Borders
"Omen," located in Jodoji, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, was established in 1967 by Kota's grandmother, Tomi Shinagawa and grandfather, Yoji, both deceased. Its signature dish, "tsukemen," or udon noodles eaten after being dipped in a separate bowl of broth with condiments and vegetables, based on a local dish of Yoji's hometown, Isesaki City, Gunma Prefecture.
"OMEN" in New York's SoHo district, also offers the same signature dish and other authentic Japanese dishes as in Kyoto. It also hosts exhibitions of Japanese calligraphy and paintings, and has been loved by artists who are interested in Japanese and Eastern cultures, including Patti Smith, also known as the "Queen of Punk," and actor Richard Gere.
However, the owner Mikio Shinagawa, who was Tomi's third son, died of illness at the age of 66 in November 2021. OMEN was opened in 1981 by Mikio, who had attended an art school in New York, in order to create "a restaurant that serves authentic Japanese cuisine in SoHo, where would-be artists hang out." He was managing the restaurant with his sister Mariko. Kota is Mikio's nephew.Kota studied abroad in the United States from his teens, and lived there for about 10 years until he graduated from university. He recalls, "At OMEN, we have faced customers honestly through our dishes, and spend time together with them like a family."
As the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to travel between Japan and the U.S., he temporarily sent all the Japanese staff back to Japan. Although the situation remains unstable, he says, "We can pursue new ways to enjoy Japanese cuisine because we have restaurants in both Japan and the United States." The presence of the U.S. branch has also been a stimulus for the head restaurant to develop its menu. For example, it started growing vegetables on its own farm in Kyoto, following macrobiotics and other cooking methods popular in the U.S.
For the postcard design to commemorate the restaurant's 40th anniversary, he chose his grandfather's calligraphy of "Danran" or enjoying gatherings, hoping that "Food helps every person to enjoy their time together in any age."(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)