Showing posts with label ichigo ichie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ichigo ichie. 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!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Izakaya Evening with Echigo Saké at Ichigo Ichie


Izakaya Evening with Echigo Saké at Ichigo Ichie

 
Smashed cucumber with Bonito flake.

For one night this/last week, Michelin Star Chef Takashi Miyazaki turned his Ichigo Ichie restaurant into a Japanese style gastro-pub with a lot of help from Mr. Ono from the Echigo Saké Brewery in Japan. 

It was the first Izakaya evening here and a delightful experience that began with a glass, sorry, that should read masu, of Echigo Koshi No Happo. The Masu is a square wooden cup used to measure rice in Japan during the feudal period. It holds 180ml of that first saké so that was quite a substantial aperitif. Quite a lovely one also, smooth, almost savoury with a slightly syrupy texture giving it a rich mouthfeel.
First pour

There would be more sakés as the pleasant evening went on, with Mr Ono on hand to explain the various types. Perhaps the outstanding one from my point of view was the Ozeki Karatamba Honjozo Namachozoshu. Here, we were told that the brewing technology brings out the crisp and rich flavour yet dry taste of “Karatamba” that pairs well with any cuisine, indeed the prefect saké to indulge your taste buds. It certainly did that!


Of Japan’s major saké-producing regions, Niigata is regarded as the most prestigious and well-known. And deservedly so. Known long ago by the name Echigo, modern-day, Niigata is the region of small craft producers from the countryside. It is also the origin of the light and dry tanrei-karakuchi style of saké that has become so popular amongst saké lovers today. And we did indeed enjoy the Echigo Karakuchi, “a very hearty saké”.
Sashimi selection

At the end, we had a taste of the Amakuchi, the sweet saké. But not that sweet! From the delightful, if limited  (we didn’t have all night!), tasting, it seems that the dry to sweet range of the Japanese drink is much narrower than is the case with wine! Open to correction on this one.

And how did we get on with the square cup? The masu? Quite well actually. It stands on a saucer so, when  it is full to the brim, you can lift the saucer and sip, “not rude” says Mr Ono. Being Cork of course, there was one “complaint”: we couldn’t make those cups clink! Well, if you really want to get that cheerful sound, you may drink it from a short clear glass also!
Pork belly with bean sprout

The special Izakaya Menu was a multi-course treat. Hard to keep track of all the courses and Mr Miyazaki also added in a couple of bonuses. So, from the Smashed Cucumber at the start to the delicious pannacotta at the finish, we were more than well fed.

Highlights? Well those two already mentioned for a start. The Sashimi was an early highlight for me with salmon, tuna and sea-bass in the mix. The Prawn (a substitute for squid) and Padron Pepper Tempura was another as were the Chicken Tatsuta. And an unexpected one - it was additional to the 12-course menu - was the swordfish towards the end.
 
Prawn

CL also enjoyed the meal from start to finish especially that little Smashed Cucumber at the start. The next dish, the Pork Belly, was another of her favourites along with the Sashimi. But all were appreciated.

Izakaya Menu

Peanuts Tofu (peanuts, wasabi)

Kyuri Tataki (smashed cucumber, bonito flake, crushed garlic chilli)

Chashu and Moyashi Namuru (pork belly, bean sprout, shichimi, sesame oil)

Sashimi (Corvina, Organic Salmon, Daikon, Shiso, Wasabi, dashi shoyu)

Yakitori (tsukune tare sansho and egg yolk sauce, pork belly)
Dessert

Buta Shabu Salad (Pork, Mizuna, Silken Tofu, Radish, Sesame Ponzu)

Grilled Asparagus Yakidashi (asparagus in dashi, bonito flake, chilli)

Ika and Shishitou Tempura (squid and Padron Pepper). Ika (squid not available so we had prawns instead).

Chicken Tatsuta (Fried chicken thigh)

Satoimoni, Tori Soboro Sauce (Taro Potato stew with minced chicken sauce)

Tamago Maki (Egg Roll Sushi)

Amazake (White chocolate pannacotta, cherry)


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