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Sugalabo: In Search of Perfect Produce

May 19, 2017


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Hi everyone!

We’ve been working on this video for a long time. It’s something very special in our hearts, and I really hope you like it. We mentioned it before, and this is it, this is the video where Martina talked about Building A Ladder and pushing through her pain to climb a hill and experience the best orange of her life. And I think because those memories are so special to us, we took longer on this video than we had anticipated, but now we’re ready to share our time with Yosuke Suga, the mind behind SUGALABO, and one of the coolest dudes we ever met.

We didn’t talk a lot about it in the video, but Yosuke Suga is a super talented guy. He has worked with Joël Robuchon for 16 years, and at the age of 26, he became the Executive Chef L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Tokyo. He consecutively opened Ateliers in LA, NY, Taipei, and Paris as the project leader, and then in 2015 he returned to Japan to launch his laboratory SUGALABO Inc. He was also Iron Chef France! He is an incredibly talented man but he is also super humble and surprisingly approachable. We were really lucky to meet him and to be invited along on his adventures to seek out the treasured ingredients of Japan.

When Suga travels, he brings back souvenirs from his trips, and instead of showing you a slideshow of pictures, he creates a dinner for you. It’s like going to a friend’s place for a great dinner party after they’ve been away for a while, and he shows you all of the cool techniques he’s learned. I feel like we try to do the same thing as well: when we travel, we want to show you our memories, our souvenirs from our travels. Both we and Suga and hope to inspire you to travel and to experience these things for yourselves. The big difference though is that Suga is famous and respected and talented and we’re just…hungry.

We’ve got some pictures from our time here as well, and I’d like to share them, because honestly this is the prettiest place I’ve ever eaten. It’s just stunning, and so easy to take pictures of. So here’s a bunch. Some of these photos are ours but many are taken by our friend Yohei who is just an incredible guy. first from us going to the Dog Onsen and having some oranges:

Next, here’s a gallery of us going to the paper and pottery places, and also us getting more citrus:

And lastly, here are some photos of the food, which of course we can’t skip out on showing. I just realized that this is a hecka lotta pictures, but this was nearly 7 days of shooting so we’ve got a lot to share. Here they are:

Ah, there are so many things to describe here, so I’ll go the route of saying that it was a profound and overwhelming experience and I’m trying to replicate that by flooding you with pictures. Does that make sense? If you want to call me out for being lazy…you’d be correct!

One of the things that’s hard for us to explain is just how different food tastes in Japan. My parents are visiting Japan now, and I had a surprising moment with them. They told me that when they watch our videos, I keep saying that this is the best, that is the best, everything I eat is the best version of that thing that I ever ate. My parents thought I was full of it. But after a few days here in Japan, they told me that they now understand. Everything they’re eating now is the best they’ve ever had. Everything I’m eating in Japan is the best I ever had. And hanging out with Suga, when he’s going out on the hunt for the perfect orange, the perfect potato, the perfect crab, it’s overwhelming. Food here is something special. Hopefully you can come here and try it out.

If you’d like to book a table at SUGALABO, I’m afraid that it might be very difficult to do. He only opens once a month or so and since it is such a rare and small restaurant, it is referral only. That means that you have to know somebody who is a regular who can bring you in on their reservation. Suga told us his reasons for this, but we didn’t include it in the video because I didn’t want to take away from the message of appreciating food. Basically, his restaurant isn’t really a restaurant. It’s open randomly throughout the year, sometimes only a few times a month, because Suga is out traveling and studying most of the time. When it is open, though, it’s open for his friends and people that he knows. If Suga knows you, he might know your tastes and preferences. At the same time, it’s not just food that he’s giving you. When you eat at SUGALABO, and they bring you a plate, Suga comes over and explains where he got the ingredients. One of the lemons, he mentioned, comes from a man who created that kind of lemon. I don’t know what it takes to create your own kind of lemon, but this man does it, and Suga had to convince him to sell him some of those lemons so he could share them with us at his laboratory. The point is, the food that he brings is really special, and if he doesn’t know you, he’s not sure if you’ll appreciate it. I’ve been to some nice restaurants with loud ass people that didn’t give a damn about the food, but just blathered the whole time. I’d be upset if I had some rare ingredients and strangers ate it without giving a damn. So, I understand Suga in that respect: he’s serving food to his friends that he knows will like the food.

That’s it for now, everyone. If you’ve got any questions about Suga or about our trip or about this food, I’d love to answer it in the comments. I know I missed out on a lot because this has been such a huge project. But I’m glad it’s finally here, and I hope you enjoyed it :D

One last thing. We have to give a special thanks to Fujingaho Magazine for allowing us to tag along during their photoshoot of Suga. They have a special monthly feature of Suga on his adventures. Check out their magazine while in Japan or check out their website here.



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Food Adventure


Sugalabo: In Search of Perfect Produce


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  1. Amazing video and I am SO jealous of you guys! Getting to travel with Chef Suga and trying out the food he made. I started noticing him just before he became Iron Chef, and has been dying to meet him in person. In fact, I went to Taipei to try my luck at L’Atelier Joel Robuchon but he left for NY already. Oh well, I do hope he will open his restaurant to public someday. Will definitely be the first in line!
    I know you guys went to Gifu with him again recently, can’t wait to see more of the videos. Keep them coming!

    7 months ago
  2. great video!! I’m going to ehime in October do you mind posting the location where you went Mikan picking

    8 months ago
  3. What an incredible experience! I understand his reasons for not having the restaurant open generally to the public, but it’s certainly a shame for the rest of us that would absolutely love to give it a try. I think this is just one of those experiences that you look back on and cherish for the rest of your life. Also, love the pics :)

    10 months ago
  4. I tried to post this yesterday but I kept getting a database error?

    Wow! This was an amazing video, totally worth the wait! I think that you captured the heart of some of the Ehime grassroots industries and showed them to great advantage. I had one of those days yesterday Martina (mine are extremely rare now), where you have to keep encouraging yourself every step of the day to ignore the pain and keep going and I think that if you hadn’t of mentioned it previously, no one would have known how much of a trooper you were on that trip. Good for you for clawing the joy from the day into your heart to treasure forever. I really admire you. The onsen must have been wonderful (after?) that. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how tall Simon is since you rarely stand together any more – LOL! You both rocked those onsen yukatas! So many interesting things to talk about, it would be too long. I just immersed myself in the video and let it wash over me with it’s tantalizing delicious images. I really liked your sparkly look Martina at the SugaLabo, your nails, your earrings, etc., really added a mahou shoujo look to the shots at the restaurant, making the experience even more magical. Thanks for holding back to show as much detail as you did, it all looked so mouth watering.

    Due to it’s topography and geographic situation, Japan has such an interesting array of micro-climates, I can see how Suga has many adventures to go on. Since Japan was isolated (historically) for some time, and given the culture, I can totally get why if you’re going to grow oranges, grow the best, why waste what precious space you have on anything less? Same for all the produce. I grow my own garden mostly for this reason. I can get any old tasteless tomato at the grocery store but with only a little effort, I can get bushels of delicious mouth watering tomatoes of all shapes and sizes, colours and flavours. I only plant for flavour as well ;) This may seem like a strange question, but what was in that shiny black flat spheroid with the restaurant name on it? Maybe a dish, but it was unclear. Anyways, just going to go sigh and drool in the corner and thank my lucky stars I had just made a pizza from scratch to control my hunger pangs from this video.

    ~~Cyber_3 – ^_^v how to top this one, I’m sure you’ll find a way

    10 months ago
    • Ah, t was the totori crab/ sea urchin in the black spheroid. Totori clear on re-watch ;) I think I was just so entranced by the flowers on top that I forgot….

      10 months ago
  5. MLE

    This is amazing! So happy that Martina got to have this amazing experience and create so many wonderful memories.

    I bought a dekopon at the supermarket earlier this year because I’d never heard of it before. Unfortunately I got so swamped at work that it just sat on my counter and in the end went bad so I had to throw it away. Such regret! I’ll make sure to get one and eat it next year.

    My suggestion for another video like this would be going back to Fukushima! The peaches here are the BEST. So are the tomatoes grown in Iwaki, which is on the eastern coast of the prefecture. It’s got a completely different climate from Aizuwakamatsu, and a gorgeous aquarium that has an outdoor rock pool. Plus, you can actually go fishing in a designated area (to promote sustainable fishing) and have it cooked for you to eat, learn how to make your own bonito flakes, and how to cook scallops over hot coals!

    10 months ago
  6. Hi Simon, hi Martina,

    loved the video, the pictures and the article :) I am living in Ehime right now, so this Food Adventure is my all time favorite of course ;) I found your channel almost one year ago through the collaboration with Rachel and Jun, and probably have seen nearly all your videos since then (Yes, I have too much time…). Keep up the great work!

    Best wishes


    PS: You might want to change “Dog Onsen” to “DogO Onsen” ;)

    10 months ago
  7. I’m so happy you guys finally got to uploading it. This year I’ve started listening to you on your podcast and even catching a livestream live once(yay). And you’ve been talking about this as such a nice happy adventure and it feels so inspirational to me that you could do this! Also the video is so pretty~!

    10 months ago
  8. Omg I feel like I’ve just had a religious experience by watching this video!! *_* I envy you guys so much! Just by seeing the pictures and watching the video I can understand just how great of an experience you must have had! :D

    10 months ago
  9. I have to say, this video is one of my favorites I have ever watched. It was so thoughtfully and beautifully made. You guys did an amazing job and you can really tell how much effort was put into this! I can’t wait to see more like this! I also can’t wait to just see your normal videos as well :) You guys are amazing!! Thank you for making this beautiful video for all of us to enjoy!

    10 months ago
  10. I loved waking up to this, such an amazing video! Thanks so much for sharing.

    10 months ago
  11. It is so interesting to see the whole process of getting the produce and then seeing it turned into an amazing intricate meal. I love watching all your videos but this one really made me love that we live in a age where I can see such an incredible (and rare) food experience from my couch an ocean away. :)

    10 months ago
  12. Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing, as always ;)

    10 months ago
    • Probably shouldn’t have looked at all of them while at work.. Got a little misty and couldn’t answer the phone!

      10 months ago