Fancy Tokyo hotel joins Alaska seafood promotion

Posted: Friday, January 14, 2000

KODIAK - Alaska's seafood will be served in restaurants at an upscale Tokyo hotel for the next six weeks as part of a promotion by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

``The goals of our promotions are twofold,'' SMI representative Laura Fleming said. ``We're exposing the diner to seafood in hopes that they will develop an appreciation that will lead them to repeat their experience and seek out Alaska seafood whenever they have an opportunity.

``And if the restaurant is successful with the promotion, they will be more likely to keep it on the menu as a regular item.''

Alaska-inspired culinary creations will be served in all five of Capitol Tokyu's restaurants, and in the cocktail bar, beginning Saturday.

The promotion is part of a larger thrust by the marketing institute to get more Alaska seafood into the Japanese food service industry. Marketing representatives earlier focused on Japan's grocery stores, cooking schools, and homemakers to expand markets.

Japan has long been the largest buyer of Alaska seafood.

``There are several fisheries where a very large portion of the product goes to Japan,'' said Gunnar Knapp of the Alaska Institute for Social and Economic Research. Those include frozen sockeye salmon, salmon roe, herring roe, sea urchin roe, sablefish, and pollock surimi, according to Knapp. Japan is also a large importer of crab.

``In the past, at times we've taken the Japanese market for granted,'' Knapp said. ``There are a lot of countries vying for that market. It's a good thing if ASMI can do promotions that keep Alaska and Alaska products in the eye of the Japanese consumer.''

The food service promotions are intended to capitalize on the Japanese sensitivity to untouched wilderness.

Some of the items to be offered to Tokyo diners include Alaska Salmon and Sole Souffle Aurora Borealis, Seafood Bisque Bristol Bay, and Alaskan Ikura (salmon caviar). King crab, snow crab, and halibut will also be offered.

``Some of the names of items on the menu - like Fairbanks clam chowder - would probably make Alaskans chuckle,'' said Fleming of ASMI.

The hotel bar will continue feature cocktails with an Alaska flair including the Snow Ball, White Glacier and Green Alaska.

Diners at the restaurants will cast votes for their favorite dishes and enter a contest for a trip to Alaska to view the northern lights.

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