Mmmm. Kamloops in Japan.

Take one part Kamloops business success, add a desire for healthy foods and add a big dash of Japan.

The recipe comes out as Yahiro, or the Healing Restaurant, an upscale diner in the Roppongi business and entertainment district of Tokyo that exclusively features products from Kamloops-based Strauss Herb Co.

Terry Cox, who distributes Strauss products in Japan, said the idea of incorporating western herbal remedies in food is unique.

"Surprisingly, it's a new concept here."

Strauss's "flagship" product - heart drops - is featured in 14 unique dishes. The organic restaurant caters to a business crowd and is located in the area of foreign embassies.

Cox is a Canadian businessman who has lived in Japan for a dozen years. He said the deal with Yahiro came along when a small retailer for Strauss in Japan "fell in love with the product.

"He had the idea for a health food restaurant," where lunch would fill the stomach and be promoted for health of the heart and major organs.

"It's quite unique the company only uses Strauss products from Kamloops," Cox said.

Menu items include a beet jelly, hot pots and entrees featuring organic vegetables. Cox said a typical meal is about $20 Canadian.

Strauss Herbal's location in Kamloops is also prominently featured inside the restaurant, Cox said.

Strauss president Peter Strauss said the company, now celebrating 30 years in business, has exported "from Day 1."

While Chinese medicine has traditionally incorporated herbal medicine, Cox said European herbal remedies are a new phenomenon in Japan.

"Each continent has its own set of herbs to use," said Strauss, whose father Jim, a traditional herbalist, founded the company in Kamloops.

"They would be different herbs (in Asia) but with the same effect."

One central difference, Strauss said, is North Americans prefer herbal remedies in tinctures, while Japanese like their herbs in teas.

"They're not the best tasting but they'll drink them."

Cox said Yahiro, which opened in October, is succeeding.

"The good is good, not to be biased. They have a really creative chef who knows how to bring herbs and food together."

Strauss products are exported to countries including United States, Croatia, South Africa and United Kingdom. Strauss said New Zealand is the company's biggest export market, in part because of relaxed laws regarding promotion of supplements and health.

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