Grab a Bite of Healthy and Fulfilling Falafel at FALAFEL BROTHERS
Interviewing Daisuke Tsukahara, President of FALAFEL BROTHERS "healthy, active, and fullness"
Please give us your self-introduction.
I used to work in sales of a completely different industry and had a chance to work abroad. That’s when I started to cook for myself and leaned towards a vegetarian diet. My first encounter with falafel was when I visited Qatar. I didn’t know about falafel, so my first impression of falafel was delicious and healthy. Afterwards, I learned about veganism and realized that falafel is not only healthy but helps protect the environment and animals. I’m not 100% vegan, but almost vegetarian. It’s quite a challenge to find vegetarian menus at a reasonable price in Japan. From the hope to create a place where people can enjoy a healthy and delicious light meal, I started this shop.
What is the concept of your shop?
The keywords are “healthy, active, and fullness”. Most importantly, the menu must be vegan, healthy, and large in size so that male customers can be satisfied too. It’s nice that you don’t have to feel so guilty after finishing a large meal because it is healthy and good for you. You might imagine someone less active when you hear the words vegan or vegetarian, but I want to support dietary habits of global businessmen and active people who work out at the gym.
Who are your main customers?
About 10% of our customers are vegetarian, and female to male ratio is 6:4. Some foreign visitors would drop by multiple times during their stay in Tokyo. It seems that many of them visit here using the app called “Happy Cow”. At one time, a customer bought everything on the menu since it was his last day in Japan. However, many foreign customers especially from the Middle East are very hesitant to eat falafel run by a Japanese owner. I can understand because I would feel the same if I see a sushi restaurant run by a non-Japanese in a foreign country. Often, they would order a half-size falafel or a salad bowl for a trial and come back for more saying that it tasted good. I’m very proud and happy about that.
What’s special about your ingredients?
I purchase vegetables from Shimota Farm. They have a special facility to test the healthiness and safety of the vegetables by inspecting the farm land and finished products before shipping.
What is the most popular menu?
Half-size falafel is ordered the most, but the salad bowl is popular. We receive orders for alcohol in the evening. We have 2 beer brands, Goldstar and Maccabee, and we are one of the few places that offers Goldstar in Tokyo.
Do you develop new recipes?
The toppings change every week depending on the seasonal vegetables. The main menu changes once in 3-4 months, and side dish changes every two months. Many of our customers are regular customers so I try to offer something new every time they come.
What do you think about the demands of vegan and vegetarian in Japan?
It is difficult to say because most of our customers are foreigners, but I think the demand will grow as we get closer to the Tokyo Olympics.
What is your future goal?
I’m trying to figure out a way in reaching falafel to Japanese people. Non-Japanese customers would notice falafel by looking at the sign from faraway, but most of the Japanese people still do not know about falafel. I need to be more active towards media coverage to increase awareness to develop as a chain store. My first goal is to become a store that first pops into your mind when you think of falafel.