Umihiko Seafood Brings New Wave of Freezing Technology to Malaysia
● Umihiko Seafood is the latest addition in the Klang Valley to offer fresh and high
quality seafood products from Japan.
● Our specialty is in using the Blast Chiller technology to preserve the freshness and quality of food by rapid freezing.
● This latest freezing technique enables people to enjoy the original taste of seafood anytime.
Umihiko Seafood is a newly opened Japanese frozen seafood specialty store in Sri Petaling, Kuala Lumpur. They pride themselves in supplying fresh seafood that is frozen instantly with the Blast Chiller technology. Their seafood is
directly sourced from the fishermen in Japan and airflown to Malaysia the very same day, ensuring freshness and quality of their products.
Umihiko Seafood was established in January 2021 by Mr Marimo, the CEO and owner. However, the Japanese entrepreneur first started this business in 2020 as a wholesaler supplying mainly to sushi restaurants in Malaysia.
Game changer in the frozen food industry
Umihiko Seafood’s speciality is in their way of preserving the freshness of the seafood. After the arrival of seafood to Malaysia, they are immediately frozen to -40°C using a special freezing technology called Blast Chiller. “With this technology, the consumers’ impression on frozen food have significantly changed, as they now get to enjoy the original taste at any time,” said Mr Marimo.
When it comes to frozen food, many will have the assumption that it is low in quality. This is because freezing is normally done in a -20°C freezer and it takes a long time for the food to harden. During this process, the cells of the food get destroyed and there will be a loss of
fluid, called drip, upon defrosting. Since this drip contains umami and nutrients, frozen food generally loses its flavor when drip flows out.
On the other hand, the Blast Chiller does not destroy cells by rapidly releasing -40°C cold air, and the cells instantly pass between -1°C and -5°C, which is the ice crystal forming temperature zone (the longer it takes for the food to pass through this zone, the more
damaged the food gets). Therefore, drip is not produced when defrosting, so the quality and taste of frozen food are not compromised.
According to Mr Marimo, very few companies have introduced the Blast Chiller in Malaysia as this technology is new and expensive. However, it is now getting popular in Japan and many Japanese companies have started to use the Blast Chiller to offer quality ingredients to consumers. With this method, food can be stored for a longer time with its original taste still intact even after defrosting.
The real fisherman’s spirit
About twice a week, Umihiko Seafood brings freshly caught seafood from the fishermen in Japan directly to Malaysia. The seafood will be airflown to Malaysia on the same day they are caught. “By cutting out the middlemen, we are able to bring in fresh and reasonably
priced seafood for Malaysians to enjoy,” said Mr Marimo.
The close relationship that Umihiko Seafood has with the local fishermen is mostly due to Mr Marimo’s background, as he was born in a small fishing village in Aomori, Japan. “I grew up in a fisherman’s family, where almost all the villagers made a living from fishing,” he shared.
“So I always had freshly caught fish since I was a child.”
Mr Marimo has been living in Malaysia for more than 10 years, but seldom came across delicious fish. When his father passed away in early 2020, all his relatives in the fishing village gathered for the first time in a long time. That was when Mr Marimo heard about their
anxiety and dissatisfaction with the current situation. At that time, the Covid-19 pandemic had just started and the demand for fish had decreased in Japan. As the existing traditional distribution system remained, their income did not increase no matter how much fish they caught, and their lives did not get easier. Mr Marimo
then decided to come up with a plan to export their fish directly overseas, and that was how Umihiko Seafood was created.
Northern treasures of the sea
The products offered by Umihiko Seafood are mainly from Hokkaido and Tohoku. As Mr Marimo’s hometown is located in the northern part of Japan’s main island of Honshu, he has
many relatives and friends who are fishermen in that area.
Therefore, he is familiar with the season, taste, and the eating method of seafood from that region, and this knowledge makes him confident that he can sell the freshest and most
competitively priced seafood that come particularly from there.
In response to customers’ requests, Umihiko Seafood started supplying seafood from Toyosu, the largest fish market in Japan. Now they are ready to provide almost all kinds of fish that can be caught in Japan.
Out of all the seafood that is brought in from Japan, Mr Marimo highly recommends the Hotate scallops. “The fishermen who are my relatives mainly get scallops, so we’re absolutely confident in this product,” said Mr Marimo.
Towards a sustainable future
A big dream for Mr Marimo is to develop Malaysia’s own Toyosu Market where fresh and reasonably priced seafood will arrive in Malaysia everyday, and customers are free to browse and select from the best. “I would like to offer more opportunities to fishermen so
they can increase deliveries to consumers worldwide, while maintaining their quality and freshness,” he said.
Being equipped with the Blast Chiller technology will also ensure a steady supply of fresh seafood. By instantly freezing raw imported products while they are fresh, one will be able to eat them at any time. Mr Marimo expressed that this advancement will help to reduce food loss, respond to food crises that may arise, or if another pandemic returns in the future. “It is an initiative with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in mind,” he added.
Moving forward, Mr Marimo plans to open a restaurant here in Malaysia to give Japanese chefs the chance to take on an active role overseas. He hopes to bring the authentic taste of their products to many Malaysians, so that people will know how to enjoy the best way of cooking for each ingredient.
“We would like to work towards the kind of future where we could deliver the thoughts of the
producers and chefs, as well as Japanese hospitality to Malaysia,” said Mr Marimo.