Tim Anderson, the 2011 winner of MasterChef, is hoping to open his first restaurant - Nanban London - next year, specialising in authentic southern Japanese food mostly from Kyushu island.
The chef is currently finalising financing details for his first full restaurant project and is searching for a suitable site for the eatery with Shoreditch top of his wish list.
Speaking to BigHospitality, Anderson revealed location hunting was proving more difficult than funding.
"There is more interest in general from potential backers (as a result of MasterChef). I got a lot of offers right out of the gate but at that time I wasn't at all ready to open my own place. There was never a good fit.
"The offers died down after a while but once I started telling people about the concept, people started to find me."
The American hopes to open the doors to a venue featuring around 60 covers in spring 2013.
Japanese soul food
The authentic eatery will owe its name to a word, meaning 'southern barbarian’, which was originally used to describe European settlers. Anderson said the restaurant would be unique in its location.
"There is not really any Japanese food in Shoreditch, there is a little bit but none of it is good or interesting," he argued. "The kind of food that we will be doing is going to fit the vibe - you can come with your friends and get drunk, have food that soaks up alcohol and relax and enjoy yourself," he added.
Dishes will almost exclusively centre on southern Japanese food, including from Kyushu, where Anderson lived for two years. "You could describe the food there as Japanese soul food," he explained.
"It is a lot dirtier and heartier with a lot more pork. There are a good amount of foreign influences - from Korea and European traders. It has a really rich history."
Nanban London will be marketed at a mid-price point with a bowl of noodles available for less than £10. Four different regional types of ramen will form the centrepiece of the menu, while authentic dishes such as Mentaiko (cod roe cured with chilli) will also be on sale alongside regional and British beers.
The dessert menu will include traditional Japanese cakes as well as Western-inspired dishes and Mr Whippy ice cream with Japanese flavours such as roasted green tea and Okinawan brown sugar.
The planned opening taps into the growing trend of restaurants launching in the capital with a menu focused on ramen. "If you want ramen, we have had a mini little boom," Anderson admitted.
Once the location and financing is secured, the chef will be planning pre-opening events, finalising the menu and helping employ a number of staff who are trained in Japanese cooking and cuisine from the southern prefectures in particular. He won't however, be taking on sushi specialists as that won't be a regular part of the menu.
"If this one works, I would like to open another one focusing on a different region. I have too many ideas to do the same thing over and over again," he concluded.