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Hiroyuki Shimizu: Tasty tips from a mobile deep-fried chicken cook

by

Staff Writer

Name: Hiroyuki Shimizu
Age: 38
Nationality: Japanese
Occupation: Deep-fried chicken food truck chef
Likes: Thinking, observing humans
Dislikes: Monotony


1. What does the kanji of your first name mean and does it reflect your personality? I was named 宏行 in the hope that I’d be a person who has aspirations, someone who can think for themselves and move forward. I think the fact that I’m currently not a salaryman shows that I’ve grown up to reflect my name.

2. Why did you decide to open a food truck? I once helped an acquaintance who had a food truck and learned how to sell goods and promote products, etc. Afterward I thought, “I could do this a lot better and sell a lot more.”

3. Why deep-fried chicken? It’s a staple dish loved by both adults and kids. I knew deep-fried chicken would sell as long as I made tasty ones.

4. Please describe a typical day at work. I wake up at 5:30 a.m., prepare the food from 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., load my truck and make it to the venue by 10:30 a.m. I sell lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., clean up by 2 p.m. and get home around 4 p.m.

5. Where is your favorite spot to do business? I mainly sell my chicken in Tokyo. I like the Nishogakusha Universtiy’s Kudan campus in Chiyoda Ward because of its lively student atmosphere. It also helps that I can eat at the campus’ canteen after I’m done.

6. Can you give us any tips on how to make tasty deep-fried chicken? Use chilled chicken meat and deep-fry it twice: First for 90 seconds in 180 degrees Celsius, and then cook again for 40 seconds in 200 degrees Celsius, after having let the chicken rest for four minutes.

7. What do you enjoy most in your line of work? Because I have a food truck, I can go anywhere I want. I don’t have to wait passively for customers to come to me. This flexibility suits me.

8. How different is your life with that of the main character in the Hollywood food-truck movie “Chef”? I think we have a common wish to provide people with good food in order to make them happy.

9. Whom in Japan do you most admire? The comedian duo Downtown. There are many ways to get people to smile, but not everyone can intentionally make people laugh as they do.

10. What’s your favorite Japanese word or phrase? “日日是好日” (“Nichi nichi kore kōjitsu”), which is a Zen word that means “to spend every day to the fullest.”

11. What song best describes your work ethic? “Sasurai” by Tamio Okuda. I like the lyrics: “I’m not going to die like this, without having wandered.” My philosophy is to think outside the box, and do anything and everything.

12. What’s the strangest request you’ve ever been asked in your line of work? I have been asked if I can raise the price of my deep-fried chicken so the line would be shorter.

13. What do you hope to be doing in 10 years time? Owning a food joint where there’s only one thing on the menu everyday.

14. What would you take to a deserted island? The manga “Yotsuba&!” The main character is so pure and stupid that it comforts me to read about his adventures when I’ve had a hard day. I figure it would probably come in handy when trying to survive life on a deserted island.

15. What’s the most outrageous thing you have ever done? I drew 凶 (kyō, worst luck) omikuji (fortune-telling papers) three times in a row. I laugh about it now but when it happened, I seriously wondered if my imminent demise was near.

16. Describe your most embarrassing moment. When I was in elementary school, I thought I’d lost my underpants after a swimming class and gave up looking for them. However, when I returned to the classroom, my teacher pulled out my underpants in the front of the entire class and asked who owned them. I was too embarrassed to raise my hand.

17. Who’s your superhero? Soccer player Shinji Okazaki. He’s really hardworking and very aggressive in scoring goals. I think he’s supercool.

18. If you won ¥1 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money? I would go backpacking around the world and eat the local delicacies of various countries until I run out of money.

19. What would you be doing if you weren’t doing what you do now? I’ve always wanted to have a job where I make something that won’t disappear. So maybe a swordsmith?

20. If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title would be? “Life of a Nandemoya (Jack of all trades).” I’ve always liked broadly trying my hand at everything and anything, and I’ve experienced lots of different jobs. At my last company, the CEO called me a “utility player” and I feel that it was exactly the right way to describe me.