ABOUT US

Our company, Poporo srl, was founded in 1987 by Master Hirazawa Minoru, known as SHIRO, a graduate from the prestigious Tsuji Culinary Institute in Osaka.

POPOROYA offers both Japanese food and a sushi bar. Experience the best traditional Japanese cuisine in a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and immerse yourself in the enchanting ambiance and ancient culture of the Land of the Rising Sun.

The restaurant was completely renovated in August 2013, while maintaining the tradition and warmth that sets us apart.

Our knowledgeable and courteous front-of-house staff are on hand to provide comprehensive and detailed information about the dishes and ingredients selected by our chefs.

The Story of "Shiro"

Shiro, Japanese chef

Shiro was born in 1946 in the Japanese province of Nagano. He studied Japanese cuisine at the Tsuji Culinary Institute in Osaka. In 1972 he moved to Italy. After working at a Japanese restaurant in Rome, he opened his own restaurant in Milan in 1989. He is currently the owner and head chef of both "Poporoya" and "Shiro".

Shiro's arrival in Rome

In 1972 there were very few Japanese people living in Italy, and even fewer Italians with a taste for Japanese food. They were very few and far between.

However, the number of Japanese people longing to travel abroad was increasing, resulting in Japanese tourists being drawn to Italy by high-class Italian fashion.

At a time when foreign travel were still very expensive, Japanese tourists arriving in Rome tended to be very wealthy and often made up the bulk of the clientele of the restaurant in Rome where Shiro was working.

Shiro opens his own restaurant in Milan

Shiro was appointed manager of the Milan franchise by the owner in 1977, which he ran until he was able to buy the restaurant and become independent in 1989. This was the venue that was to become the "Poporoya" restaurant in Via Eustachi. At the beginning, when he was manager, Poporoya was just a Japanese grocery store, because at that time it was very complicated to obtain a restaurant licence.

Authorisation to operate as a restaurant was a long time coming. The paperwork had to be repeated several times, until the permit was eventually issued by the health authorities in March 1989. That was the year Shiro finally became the owner of his own restaurant, having earned his credentials through many years of hard work in the takeaway food kitchen.

In fact, many of his customers from those early years are still Poporoya regulars today. Many Japanese businessmen who were regular visitors to Milan in the eighties still frequent the restaurant now, remembering it fondly.

As there were very few Japanese restaurants at that time, many people passionately supported Shiro. This made Shiro even more determined to obtain his restaurant licence, whatever the cost, declaring "I must have it".

"Shiro-style" Sushi

Despite their modest income, some Italian customers would visit the restaurant once or twice a week. Then one day Shiro said: "I need to increase my prices a little", to which the customers replied: "My salary is limited. If you increase your prices I can no longer come to eat here".

At this point the customers asked Shiro: "How much do you want to raise your prices?" "I was thinking of raising the price of "sushi mori" by 1000 lira." "Right, that's OK!"

From that moment on, the prices have also been adapted to meet the needs of the customers. Shiro specialises in Jumbo sushi, and a plate of "sushi mori" (mixed sushi) is substantial enough to satisfy even an Italian appetite.

Shortly after arriving from Japan, when Shiro was making sushi in Japanese-style portions, an Italian lady said to him, "Young man, you're a bit stingy!" "I don't have much money, but I like sushi and I would like to be able to eat enough to fill me up."

When the lady next visited, Shiro prepared larger sushi for her and she left satisfied, saying, "Today you have taken such good care of me!". From that moment on, he has always made Jumbo sushi.

Italians do not like "chirashi sushi" unless it contains fish, so Shiro started to place the fish under the rice (of the sushi) as well. "Chirashi sushi" was not popular with Italians, but now everyone orders: "Chirashi, chirashi!".

Fun at Shiro's

Shiro was finally able to start business as a restaurateur in Milan, and after he had installed the fish cabinet on the counter, a married Italian couple saw it and exclaimed, "How pretty!", because the pieces of fish were all so beautifully arranged. And then they worked up the courage to ask: "But how do you eat it?" To which Shiro replied: "You eat it raw. Would you like to try?" The husband boldly replied: "Let's try it!"

When Shiro took the rice to begin preparing the sushi, the lady took her husband's arm and dragged him out of the restaurant, shouting, "I can't bear it!"

But the husband soon returned, this time alone, saying, "I want to try it!". He ate the tuna and loved it.

Shiro's Italian customers have always been very demanding. They truly understand flavours, and are self-proclaimed "sushi connoisseurs". This is why they are happy to order different things.

As Shiro prepares the sushi, some people ask him the strangest and most baffling things, saying things in Japanese like, "Make me a salmon yakitori".

Shiro is always happy to joke, allowing the customers to enjoy themselves and to talk freely about whatever pops into their head.

Friendly jokes emanate from the counter and reverberate from one corner to another, fulfilling the establishment's reputation as a particularly fun meeting place.

The atmosphere at Shiro's makes you feel instantly at ease, which is why many customers come alone. There have even been some people who came to eat alone and ended up meeting the man/woman of their dreams and tying the knot.

An Italian who lives directly opposite Shiro's restaurant and enjoys the view said one day, "Why does everyone who leaves your place always start to chat?" No-one knows why, but for some reason it seems there are many couples who stop in front of Shiro's restaurant to make their declarations of love.

Many customers say they love this shop, with its familiar atmosphere, but it also appears very disorganised. For the Japanese customers, it has its own nostalgic charm. For the Italians, its popularity is down to the setting that allows you to enjoy a traditional Japanese experience.

At one time Shiro was thinking about closing this shop and moving to larger premises, but the Italian customers pleaded with him: "Please don't close!"

And Shiro said: "But why? Wouldn't it be better to have a larger establishment?". But his Italian customers insisted: "It's perfect just as it is. A cosy and truly Japanese atmosphere."

Customers constantly queue patiently outside the shop waiting for a table to become available. Shiro would really like to express his gratitude to these customers.

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