DON’T FORGET THE MAYO: It was all smiles at the Kewpie booth on Sept. 23 during Mutual Trading Company’s 2023 Japanese Food and Restaurant Expo in Pasadena. A favorite in Japan and around the world for generations, Kewpie was spotlighting some new dressing recipies as well as a line of vegan offerings.

PASADENA — After a four-year hiatus, the Mutual Trading Japanese Food and Restaurant Expo returned for its 32nd edition on Sept. 23 at the Pasadena Convention Center.

The expo featured nearly 150 exhibitors.

With nearly 150 exhibitors, the event is the largest and longest-running event of its kind outside of Japan.

The liquor pavilion was abuzz with activity all day.

Thousands attended, among them restaurant owners, foodies and those who simply embrace the taste of food and drink from Japan.

Left: Brewed with natural spring water from Mt. Fuji, this top-drawer sake from Hiryujouun contains consumable gold leaf and comes in a wooden box with LED lighting effects. Right: Masao Aisawa shows off a $95 premium junmai daiginjo sake, created in Yamagata Prefecture.

As the world continues to emerge from the pandemic, the food service and retail industries face a changed landscape, one that is vastly different from the pre-COVID days.

Vendo Sanden’s machine serves hot entrees and is manufactured in Dallas.

Among the highlights of the expo were sake and food pairing workshops, expert knife artisans, scores of free tasting offers, and of course, the liquor pavilion featuring the finest in Japanese beer, wine and sake.

At the sake workshop pavilion, cocktails are served over Kuramoto ice, made with the waters of Mt. Hakusan and exported in its frozen state.

Photos by MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo

A journalist from Brazil dons the Funaguchi canned sake suit.

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