High on the Hog

HyLife Pork Table has quickly made its mark on the restaurant scene

HyLife Pork Table, a restaurant located in stylish Daikanyama, was a long time in the making. It all started with the Canadian company HyLife Ltd., which was founded in Manitoba in 1994 as a pig farm. They branched out into preparing pork products in 2008 and in 2010, started selling the high-quality pork in markets around Japan.

HyLife Pork Table opened its doors in September 2016 as a way to build brand awareness for their retail business, and it has already proven to be a hit with Tokyo diners. To learn more about what has helped to make the restaurant a success and why they decided to become a Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan (CCCJ) member, we had a chat with Naoyuki (Nick) Funakoshi, head of Japan and chief marketing officer for the company.

What was the reason you wanted to become a CCCJ member?

Of course, our company is focused on the Japanese market. We wanted to develop stronger connections between Japan and Canada. You know, the CCCJ offers great support and connections, not just to food companies but with other Canada-related companies. We believe they can provide us with knowledge and connections that we don’t have.

Our kitchen is an open kitchen. We guarantee our food safety, and we don’t hide anything.

So, all of the pork that is served at HyLife Pork Table comes from Canada?

Yes. It’s not just pork: some of the ingredients, sauces and styles of cooking at the restaurant come from Canada, and we also serve Canadian maple syrup, ice wine, whisky and beer.

What would you say is the secret to HyLife Pork Table’s success?

I believe there are a few reasons. One thing I would say is that pork restaurants are unique in Japan. Generally, Japanese consumers think of pork as more of a daily food to be eaten at home. But actually, they recognize that things like pork steak and dry ribs are very attractive for them. We can also provide these meats at a reasonable price compared with something like beef. So, taste comes first, followed by uniqueness and reasonable prices. Also, we have a real sense of openness at the restaurant. Our kitchen is an open kitchen. We guarantee our food safety, and we don’t hide anything. We also provide more space for each chair at the restaurant, which makes diners feel more relaxed and at home. I think those kinds of small details and the Canadian theme contribute to customers wanting to come back again and again.

Can you tell me about your involvement with the Tohoku Youth Project?

Our company supports CCCJ events, and the Japanese community. Because of our interest in contributing to the local community, the CCCJ introduced us to the Tohoku Youth Project last year, and we decided to accept one student. This is the second year we’ve had an intern working with us. They worked part of the week at the HyLife Pork office and part of the week at the restaurant. We’re looking forward to having another student next year.

Do you have any message you’d like to share with other members of the CCCJ?

As a business, HyLife Pork is constantly growing, and we now have customers from Hokkaido to Kyushu. But we’re always looking for new business synergies. If you have a chance to meet us or visit us, anytime, we’d like to explore any opportunities to further the relationship between Japan and Canada. And at HyLife Pork Table, we are committed to providing taste and trust. Please come, for business purposes or with friends and family. We are confident that we will offer you food and service that represents Canada’s best.

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