Showing posts with label Takashi Miyazaki. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Takashi Miyazaki. Show all posts

Sunday, May 19, 2019

From a Wedding Dress to a Michelin Star. Miyazaki tells the tale at DesignPOP


From a Wedding Dress to a Michelin Star.
Miyazaki tells the tale at DesignPOP

In 2012, a bride to be and her sister visit Cork to shop for a wedding dress. Six years later, her now husband’s restaurant wins a Michelin star in the city.

When Stephanie arrived back in the midlands, she was enthusiastic as she told husband-to-be Takashi: “You have to move to Cork.” So he came down and tried the place for one night. He was converted. “Two weeks later, we moved,” he told the audience at the DesignPOP event in Thompson House in MacCurtain Street last Sunday afternoon. “I was so happy.”
Conversation Piece. One of the DesignPOP pavilions in the city

And it got better. But not straight away. Takashi Miyazaki was determined to open a Japanese restaurant to show Irish people what they were missing. But he couldn’t afford a premises until 2015 when he found a tiny place at the junction of Barrack Street and Evergreen Street. It was small, very small. But he thought: “Why not start small? Take the window of opportunity.” And so Miyazaki was born. 

He gave it everything. “I had so many different things to show and share. I got great support. Was so busy.” As the tiny takeaway - it has a handful of high stools - prospered, people asked: What next? Are you coming to Dublin? “No, Cork,” I answered.
Ichigo Ichie

But he was always dreaming about a high end restaurant. “I had the experience. I had the palate from my grandmother’s food.” And so he went on to learn more and more, to enhance and fine tune what he already had.

He has quite a lot going for him, not least the ability to turn dreams into reality. When he was 18 years old, and a master of Martial Arts,  he started cooking part-time in a local café, “toast, frozen stuff”. Then he did “easy stuff” for friends. They loved it and said “You great chef. Can you cook again?”

He knew he wasn’t a great chef but loved the cooking and wanted to be a chef. His parents were not at all keen on the idea. And they also stopped him following another possible career in the graphic arts. At university he continued to cook for those lucky friends and again he decided on a career as a chef. This time, he was a man and there was no stopping him.
Miyazaki at work
His first job was in a 5-star hotel but he was a slow learner and admitted it wasn’t until he was 32 years old that he felt he had mastered it. The “slow learner” travelled the many Japanese regions and learned lots of different dishes and styles.

Even learned lots of Irish dishes, including fish and chips! Yes, while working in an Irish pub in Hiroshima, a Galway chef showed him the Irish way, including one of the best fish batters ever. While in the pub, he met Stephanie and the road to Cork started. First they moved to Offaly. He missed his Japanese food. The local sushi wasn’t up to scratch and his desire to open a Japanese restaurant was born.

There was an early setback as the restaurant that gave him his first job (in 2008) closed after just four weeks. “I was so upset. I can’t go back to Japan. What can I do?” He had sampled some Irish Japanese restaurants “but that was not Japanese food”. “I have to do something. I was dreaming, dreaming, dreaming!”
Window at Emmet Place pavilion

And that dream came true in Ichigo Ichie last year. And it wasn’t just his cooking skills that were tested. He brought his artistic skills to bear too in the plating, on the printed menus and indeed on social media.

“I had no idea about Twitter and Instagram. But my wife and friends encouraged me. Instagram gave me the opportunity to show the colour of the food, the real green, the real red.” And so he started painting. And these are the little paintings that you’ll see on the menu cards, including the wine list.

“I am still doing the food I want to do. I keep sketching for my plate. Why not a painting of the dish, so I keep drawing? So happy now, I can design, paint, sketch and cook, all on a plate. It is very unique, all my experiences, my history, my childhood memories.” And his customers are so glad that he decided to share with us.
"Stained glass" lollipops, by Banana Melon, in DesignPOP pavilion, some for sale.

But what did that Michelin star mean? Someone asked. “It was amazing. My life has changed. Bookings were slow that particular month but once the star was announced we immediately booked out. Still I want to focus on what we do.” He admitted the star was a motivating factor but promised “I won’t change too much.”


But he will change for the seasons, though he has had trouble with the Irish seasons, especially the short summer. Will he go all vegetarian? “No. The menu is a story over 12 courses. I need fish, I need meat, to make the story.”

It is indeed quite a story and you can catch all 12 chapters in Ichigo Ichie. And if you want a short story, why not pay a visit to the original Miyazaki!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Le Caveau Tasting in the 'Hood. Port Shines in Old Apple Market


Le Caveau Tasting in the 'Hood.
Port Shines in Old Apple Market.

Chef Takashi Miyazaki (left) with Pascal Rossignol of Le Caveau in the Old Apple Market
Chris Forbes is a man on the move. Chris, export manager at The Fladgate Partnership, representing Port wines from Taylor Fladgate, Fonseca and Croft, spent close to six months on the road, on the train, and in the air, traversing the globe last year and expects this year to be much the same. Port keeps him on the move and he was in Cork last Thursday for the Le Caveau Portfolio Tasting in the Old Apple Market in Barrack Street.

The demand for the Portuguese wine - Port is a wine, a good one and a good value one too - may be surprising to some of us here. The fortified drink may be hundreds of years old but you’ll still find it in the best of places. Chris hosted a Boston dinner in January ($135 Per Person, not including tax and gratuity) and, at the recent Oscars, Taylor’s Ruby Port was used in a classic Paloma cocktail!


Nearer to home, I’ve come across the Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port (introduced in 1934, so a relative youngster) in cocktails at Cask and also in what is cheekily called an Irish G&T in a Wexford restaurant (Aldridge Lodge) where the port takes the place of the gin as they don’t have a spirits licence.

And it was with a sip of that Chip Dry that I started my amble around the many wines, most of them organic, many of them natural, at the very interesting portfolio tasting. It is delightful as an aperitif, may also be used, one to two, with tonic water, and of course in those cocktails.




Le Caveau are well-known for their excellent house wine range and quite a few were on display including the Cantina Tollo pair of Madregale and Ciello (check out their reds too) and also the Menade Verdejo. The Burgundy whites impressed, of course, the Ambroise, two by Larue (St Aubin 1er cru and Chassagne-Montrachet) and also the Bachey-Legros Puligny Montrachet.

On the Loire side, I very much liked the “Mademoiselle M” by Alexandre Bain and Sauvignon Blanc from Frantz Saumon, cheekily titled Vin de Frantz! Meyer-Fonné seldom disappoints and his Alsace Pinot Blanc Vieilles Vignes is a gem. Another beauty was the Rhone white by Dard et Ribo from Croze-Hermitage.



Stepped on the gas then and headed for Italy and the excellent Semplicemente, a 100% Cortese from the late Stefano Bellotti’s winery. I’ve been working my way through the Judith Beck wines from Austria and added another to my to-do list when I tasted her Koreaa. Further afield I recruited another three for my shortlist: the Iago Chinuri from Georgia, the Pebble Dew Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and the Radford Dale Chardonnay from South Africa.

Lots of lovely wines in the less expensive reds section including old friends like the Tour de Gendres “Le Classique” and Chateau de Cedre “Heritage de Cedre” from Bergerac. Also fancied the Antica Enotria Rosso from this bunch.

Then crossed the room and really struck it rich on the Burgundy shelf. Started well with the Ambroise Pinot Noir “Lettre d’Eloise” and moved up a notch with Bachey-Legros Santenay 1er cru. Thought it couldn’t get any better than the Regnaudot Maranges 1er cru “Fussieres. It didn’t but the Parize Givry 1er cru “Champ Nalot” matched it!



The three Beaujolais, including Foillard’s Morgan Classique, matched my high expectations and I found the Bornard Ploussard Point Barre very interesting and will have to explore it further and the same note was made about the Nicolas Reau Anjou Cabernet Franc “Pompois”.

Despite a recent tip from Jean-Frédéric Hugel during the recent Findlater Tasting in the Montenotte Hotel, I was still very much surprised by the Binner Pinot Noir “Beatrice” from Alsace. M. Hugel told me of a huge improvement in Alsace Pinot Noir over the past twenty years and this is another outstanding example. If I must ever chose just one wine for the desert island, this will certainly be on the shortlist. As Rex Pickett wrote in Sideways I "was vertiginously winched up to a more rarefied plateau".

Always worth keeping an eye on is Beauregard-Mirouze from Corbieres in the South of France for well made wines at attractive prices and their “Ciel de Sud” is certainly one. And, in the same category, check out Maule’s “Masieri Rosso” from Italy. Other Italians to note are the Foradori IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti and the Ampeleia Coste Toscana IGT.


Spain didn’t disappoint either. The Peza do Rei Tinto Ribera Sacra is worth checking out and so too is the Alfred Maestro El Marciano Garnacha (just note the 15% abv!). The New Zealand Pebble Dew Pinot Noir hit the spot too, just like its Sauvignon Blanc earlier. I’m something of a Gamay fan but have never seen one as light-coloured as the Radford Dale “Thirst”. Interesting also was their Syrah “Nudity”. Just might be buying a bottle of each.

My finalé to a very pleasant couple of hours - we had some lovely local producer bites provided by Jack Crotty who has made this old building the base for Neighbourfood - was another drop of port and another chat with Chris. The finalé, sweet and conversation stopping delicious, was provided by the 2013 Late Bottled Vintage. I hadn’t had a drop of Port since Christmas and this reminded me in the nicest possible way of what I had been missing. If you’ve not been sipping Port lately, why not give it a try. It is just too good to leave out of your personal portfolio!



Port galore. Chris (right) with Colm (Le Caveau, Dublin)

You can get quite a lot of very interesting information on port here.
And you can see Chris on video here at the Californian Wine of the Month Club.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Ichigo Ichie. Twelve Courses. Many Lessons.

Ichigo Ichie. Twelve Courses. Many Lessons.
Takashi Miyazaki

The outstanding menu at the Takashi Miyazaki’s newly opened Ichigo Ichie has twelve courses and many tasty lessons for the Irish customers and indeed for Irish chefs.

Take the Mukouzuke, the fifth course, for example. Here, I came across squid like never before (so different to how it is served up here), the 6 days aged turbot was another eye-opener as was the bonito. An amazing plateful.
Nigiri

Mukouzuke, by the way, in the Japanese haute cuisine system known as Kaiseki (the style that Miyazaki is serving here) means the plate for sashimi. 

Another course title, the 9th in our meal, is Sunomono and this is a serving of pickled vegetables. Here, Miyazaki relied on his granny's recipe; she was spot-on and the rice bran, with aubergine, purple ninja radish and cucumber may have been small but it was huge in flavour.

There were little surprises all through the multi-course meal, even with the opening Sakizuke. Here the humble rhubarb found a starring role with Tofu and white sesame. The clams in the 11th dish, the Tonewan, just became available on the day and so were skilfully placed with the red miso, tofu, chive and dashi.
The Hassun: Thornhill Duck, eel & cucumber, Asparagus & cured egg.

Moon Jar
This multi-course meal is meant to reflect the  seasons but “the seasons in Japan are different to those in Ireland”, said Takashi. Our four seasons in one day has him puzzled. But he did manage to get cherry blossom in Douglas for one element of the Hassun, a delightful combination of Asparagus, cured onsen egg yolk, whiting powder and salted cherry blossom.

It is a lovely calm room with a lovely calm crew, conversations bubbling nicely behind us; we were two of the lucky five that had managed to book counter seats. That got us the odd chat with the busy Miyazaki and the chance to admire the floral arrangement and the amazing pottery piece called the Moon Jar that he sourced in London.

One of our first decisions was on what to drink. There is an excellent list of organic and natural wines from Le Caveau and we each started with a glass of white. Some Asahi beer (including draught) also available. But we had spotted the sake list also and then moved on to that, enjoying a can of the delicious Honjozo (17% abv), fragrant and full and with an amazing persistence. I'm converted!
Mukouzuke

One of the highlights of the early part of the meal was the Oshinogi course, two pieces of nigiri (sushi) with soy foam. The yellow fin was high class and even the ginger was memorable. Daikon (winter radish) is a favourite of Takashi’s and appeared in at least two courses, most notably the Nimono where it accompanied the bamboo shoot and yuzu-miso.

Daikon, bamboo shoot
I don't want to go into all the details - leave you to discover some for yourself -  but other highlights for me were the Thornhill duck, the conger eel, the ox-tongue, and the chicken thigh and turbot fin (with a savoury custard). 

Dessert is not a big thing in Japan. The course name is Kanmi and set Takashi a problem but he came up with a neat response: soy milk, chocolate, mochi rice cake, mocha and Jameson Cask Whiskey. Small but packing quite a flavour punch!

Ichigo Ichie, as you may have heard, may be interpreted as “once in a lifetime”. “No once in a lifetime,’ said Takashi, as we left. “Come back soon.” We will. In the meantime, let us hope, his influence will be felt way beyond his Fenn’s Quay base.
Channelled wrack, carrot, burdock, shiitake, dashi = Gohanmono