ADDRESS: 3F ANA INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL TOKYO, 1-12-33 AKASAKA, MINATO-KU, TOKYO 107-0052 JAPAN TEL: +81 3 3505 1185
Chocolate is no longer just associated with desserts. Its savoury side is now being celebrated in dishes, and it shines through in Japanese cuisine as well. Kaiseki chef Takeshi Yoshiyasu from Unkai at ANA Intercontinental Hotel has created a six-course lunch that includes cacao elements in each course, paired with cacao husk tea. It is part of the hotel’s dining series “Chocolate Sensations”, and together with chocolate shop “ca ca o” in Kamakura, he has reinterpreted exotic flavours and introduced them into traditional dishes. Having previously worked at Ryotei, a restaurant patronised by well-known politicians and businessmen in Akasaka, he has introduced a new level of dining sophistication that captivates the well-heeled. The lunch started with cacao vinegar and Japanese gin cocktail followed by the Owan, a soup appetiser served “Dobinmushi” style, with the soup and ingredients in the pot enjoyed separately. Yoshiyasu infused cacao husk to the kelp and bonito flakes dashi and earthy maitake mushroom to create a more intense note to the cacao flavour. For the “Otsukuri”(sashimi), he sandwiched the tuna with radish pickles and drizzled it with cacao vinegar. He paired this dish with jasmine tea to give it a white floral aroma. This combination expressed the floral side of fresh cacao fruit. The most impressive pairing was the grilled meat course; the Omi wagyu beef was charcoal-grilled, then lightly coated with cacao butter and paired with cacao husk tea. This tea has a sweet aroma which is the same as chocolate, but without the fattiness of the cacao butter. The juicy wagyu fat complemented the taste profile, enhanced by cacao nib tuile on top of the beef for some sweetness and crunchiness, similar to the foie gras poele. “It was a challenge for me to create these flavours because in Japanese cuisine we don’t usually have ingredients with this kind of sweet aroma. But with cacao infused into the husk, bean, butter and vinegar, a unique accent has been introduced into Japanese cuisine”, said Yoshiyasu.
CHEF TAKESHI YOSHIYASU “WHEN I WAS YOUNG, MY JAPANESE CUISINE MASTER CHEF TOLD ME THAT ‘CUISINE NEEDS TO BE PLAYFUL’’, AND JAPANESE CUISINE IS MINIMALIST, SO YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW THE INGREDIENTS WELL. BY KNOWING THE VARIETIES AND TRAITS OF CACAO PRODUCE, IT IS MUCH EASIER TO ADAPT IT INTO JAPANESE CUISINE.”