UNKAI

Epicure - - FOOD FEATURE -

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.”

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