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SALT shakes Tokyo: Aussie Luke Mangan launches restaurant today

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Austrade media release

27 April 2007

Tokyo diners will be rocked by Salt today, when Australia’s top restaurateur and celebrated chef Luke Mangan opens his flagship restaurant in Tokyo amid much fanfare that surrounds all major new building openings in Japan.

Austrade’s Chief Economist, Tim Harcourt said Luke is breaking new ground basing his restaurant in Japan, where at present, there are just 100 Australian business based over there. 

“Despite Japan remaining Australia’s top export destination, relatively speaking very few Australian businesses have set-up there,” Mr Harcourt said.

“Luke’s move is well-timed because Japan’s economy has really picked up after a decade of slow growth. A more open Japanese economy should also make it easier for Australian businesses to work in-market in Japan.”

Austrade’s Tokyo-based Senior Trade Commissioner, Phil Ingram said when Australian businesses like Luke’s open-up offices overseas, it can have positive spin-offs for others. 

“In Luke’s case, he’ll be flying in Australian food and beverages every week.  And he’s purchased artworks to be featured in the bar of his Tokyo restaurant from an Australian artist, Narrabeen-based Karen Benton,” Mr Ingram said. 

“The Japanese do not hesitate to spend money on good food and wine, and the opening of his restaurant will be a tremendous boost to the profile of Australian food and wine here,” he said.

The 85 seat Salt restaurant in Tokyo will open for lunch and dinner every day of the week.  It will also have a wine bar next door that seats 40.

Luke Mangan said he’s very optimistic that Salt will do well in Japan, although he believes it’s always a risky business opening a restaurant, whether it’s in Australia or overseas. 

“The minute you open a restaurant, from day one; wherever it is, it’s risky.  But overall, I believe that Australia has something different to offer.  We have great wine, food and strong interest in Japan and internationally,” Luke said. 

“In Tokyo, I liken it to the Asian version of New York.  It’s big, it’s got energy and it’s got PASSION about food and wine.  I think we’ll turn over at least a third more in Tokyo than we would here in Australia in a week.”

Luke suggests other Australian restaurateurs could venture into opening a restaurant overseas. 

“They can cope with a lot of restaurants in big cities like Japan or New York.  If you have a good product, you’ll do very well,” he said. 

Japan is Australia’s biggest export destination for food.  Last financial year Australia’s exports of food to Japan were worth almost $9.9 billion – two billion dollars more than the US, our second biggest market for Australian food exports.

Salt is housed on level six of the new Mitsubushi Estate-owned Shin-Marunouchi Building in the heart of Tokyo’s busiest areas.  The building features 14 levels of retail. 

In Japan the opening of new building complexes results in huge public interest and new restaurants are usually booked out months ahead.  Austrade will be generating as much media interest and general interest in Salt to ensure the word gets out and the bookings come in.

Media contact

Name:  Karla Davies
Tel:      +61 2 9390 2745 
Mob:    0421 288 755

For further news and information from the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) visit

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