'We're no copycat,' says upmarket restaurant

A local market watchdog is investigating a Shanghai restaurant serving Japanese food accused of being a “copycat” of a Michelin-starred eatery in Tokyo.
Ti Gong

The Ginza Sushi-Ichi in Tokyo issued an "Important Notice" on its official website.

A local market watchdog is investigating a Shanghai restaurant serving Japanese food accused of being a “copycat” of a Michelin-starred eatery in Tokyo.

The restaurant, on Gaoyou Road in Xuhui District and named Sushi Ichi, was criticized by Ginza Sushi-Ichi as one of the two knock-offs in China using its name and brand.

“Kindly note that there are restaurants in Shanghai and Nanjing using our name Sushi Ichi. We would like to highlight that they are not under our management nor are they related to our restaurants,” the one-starred Michelin restaurant in Tokyo said on its website. It said “Ginza Sushi-Ichi” has branches in Singapore, Bangkok and Jakarta.

The upmarket Shanghai restaurant was opened in 2012 with an average consumption of 1,685 yuan (US$258) per person, according to the restaurant review website Dianping.com.

The Sushi Ichi restaurants in China have no business with the Ginza Sushi-Ichi, and cannot be suspected as “copycats,” the Shanghai restaurant said. It publicized a lawyer's letter yesterday to refute the criticism.

The Chinese operator registered the name “Shanghai Sushi Ichi” in April 2011 after negotiations and agreed by the president of the Tokyo Sushi-Ichi, an official with the company said. The Shanghai Sushi-Ichi and the brand are legally registered with local industry and commerce authority.

At the beginning of its opening, the Tokyo restaurant dispatched a chief chef and other six management officials to guide the operation of the restaurant in Shanghai. The local eatery had also paid management fees to the Japanese restaurant till the end of 2014, when the cooperation was ended due to some disagreements between the two sides, the official said.

“We’d like to remind the Ginza Sushi-Ichi to respect the history and facts,” the company said in the lawyer’s letter.

The local restaurant was operating as usual yesterday.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE
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