So let me just go thru very quickly a couple of ‘chef things’ about Japan and local ingredients. Here Chefs treating ingredients in such a different way we hardly can imagine. The key word is: RESPECT. The theory is easy- having great ingredients, using great ingredients so they dont need to ‘fuckaround’ big time. On the contrary – they trying to keep it as natural as possible – like if it needs to be cooked – just cook it in a very necessary heat for an absolut necessary time. Need seasoning – do it but only to enhance its natural flavors.
Japan is a big island. BIGer than it looks like from the map. So i can only talk about the middle region where i spent my time mostly. Popular ingredients changing from parts to parts, from mountains to sea obviously. What u can not miss to try being very special: raw baby squid. Yes i know, but u can never find as tender squid in Europe what u would fancy to eat as sashimi. Someone said sashimi? Yeah – obviously every type of sea creature is great raw. Even from the supermarket’s plastic bag sashimi set is spot on! Great trick to save money – one of this sashimi box cost approx 1000yen, while if u are going to a proper sushi place for the same thing they make u pay around 5000-7000yen. I tried – and im fussy with raw stuff – give a try. Sashimi quality fish and seafood all over the country. Sea urchin. Have to give a go. Personally not my cup of tea only because i find it far to strong and i still keep looking for its perfect food pairing to change it in my palette. But its great, fresh, unique. Just like Abalone.
Well this is more my thing – have no idea why. It taste like a ‘seachicken’ in my mouth, quite tough but with a pleasantly chewy texture. Go for it. Unagi. Of course. Freshwater eel. One of my big favourite. I still having doubt about fishing them – some people saying its endangered only in Europe but as my old friend Wikipedia says its pretty much endangered everywhere. But u can not find any restaurant in Japan NOT serving Unagi don with its very special dark BBQ/MISO glaze sauce. U havent lived if u never tried it. Just like foie gras. Japanese seems to fuck all the rest of the world with its ‘badly treated forcefed goose stories’ (same as still hunting and eating whales). They dont care. They are making the most delicious foie creations ever – your brain probably coudnt even handle them from simple pate to burger or creme brulee with icecream. Im not supporting forcefed stuff as im not even eating meat really – but as a chef or foodie u better try. ( keep continue later on…)
Here is the degustation menu what my very talented Italian friend Paco cooked with another handsome one from Spain, Julen – i enjoyed every minute.
- ceviche (spring last snow)
- cauliflower, dashi, whey caramel, burnt kombu
- raw baby squid thai salad
- kawaii trio – wagyu beef, urchin, fermented strawberries
- drunk prawn goes to onsen – prawn consomme, pine, kuzu cracker
- foie gras icecream, apple
- monkfish rossini, seagrape – daikon glazed, cherry blossom
- duck, kaki, apple compressed in umeshu
- nikka gin n tonic
- miso, strawberry, apple, sakura, matcha