NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – When husband-and-wife chefs Sawako Okochi and Aaron Israel decided to open a restaurant, they created a menu to reflect both their heritages.

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At Shalom Japan, Sawako’s Japanese and Aaron’s Jewish cultures come together on the plate. You’ll find ramen noodles in the matzah ball soup and sauerkraut in the okonomiyaki pancake. The pastrami is wagyu and served between slices of Japanese white bread.

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“Shalom Japan is a collaboration between the two of us,” Aaron said. “This is our exploration of each other’s cultures, learning about differences, similarities, where there’s overlap, where there’s no overlap whatsoever.”

“We bounce ideas [off] each other. We make it, and we try it, and we critique it, tweak it,” Sawako said. “I didn’t think that cream cheese and toro would go well, but it does.”

For Sawako and Aaron, the menu is more than a series of unexpected combinations. They aim to unite exploration and creativity with a respect for history and tradition.

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“Everywhere Jewish people have gone, they’ve adapted,” Aaron said. “Even, like, a matzah ball has its roots in a German bread dumpling.”

Similarly, much of the food Sawako grew up eating in Hiroshima draws influence from other cuisines.

“There’s a lot of different traditions,” Aaron said. “And this is our tradition.”

Shalom Japan
310 S 4th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 388-4012

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