Saturday, March 16, 2013

Takazawa - Eating ART

Takazawa is known for his innovative and imaginative ways with food. Just google “Takazawa” and you’ll get multiple links to pictures and descriptions of his signature 15 vegetable ratatouille that is an exquisitely crafted vegetable terrine that represents his Japanese influenced take on a classically French dish. Other than the stylish plates of food that he presented through the night, what I learnt and really respect about Takazawa and his wife is the passion that they have for what they do and the incredible humility in the way that they perform their craft.

Takazawa’s food celebrates life. His menu is all about imagining and celebrating nature, the seasons and Japanese culture. From his amuse of roasted soy beans which was part of the celebration of Spring Setsubun where it is customary to eat your age equating number of roasted soya beans to sake lee based sauce in his MONOTONE dish. The stories that he plates are simple
and they keep pointing back to the seasons and nature through the selected seasonal ingredients and the inspired imaginative plating.The meal had a good progression, the first courses were light and more vegetable centric and it then progressed to the heavier tasting dishes –goat, foie gras, lamb. All in all it was a magnificent meal where I appreciated the high level of culinary technique that was required to execute the dishes, the clean and interesting flavor combinations and the whimsical plating.

roasted soya beans and baby sardines
In celebration of Setsubun (bean throwing festival). And according to tradition, you are also supposed the same number f soya beans that corresponds to your age.
curry and milk
Liquid Japanese curry in milk film. A good show of technique and it tasted as described - japanese curry and milk, but just as a personal preference I like my curries hot and spicy.

seasonal vegetables - tempura of sansai (mountain vegetables) and "snow" carrot
This was a fun amuse. We were instructed to first eat the tempura of wild vegetables (seasonal vegetable), then to forage through the ice for a hidden treasure. The foraged treasure under the ice was a piece of raw japanese seasonal winter carrot - the carrot is cultivated in a particular way where it matures under the snow during winter that enhances the natural flavour and sweetness of the carrot.

Ratatouille (2005)

Sesame and charcoal bread with pork pate
Seriously yummy!

The crackle of a Snow-hidden ice-skin (NEW)

Raw pieces of himemasu (hokkaido river trout) in ice cold water and a liquid nitrogen created ice covering. To eat, you have to go ice fishing with your spoon - crack the ice and enjoy the trout with the garnishes and salt, much like what you need to do when fishing for this trout in the Hokkaido river. A very mild tasting fish with firm flesh.
Vegetable Parfait (2011)

A cornucopia of ingredients and textures - tomato jelly, tomato water, cucumber jelly, paprika, basil, parmesan foam, crispy black cabbage, caviar, edible flowers and sprouts - that came together for a very refreshing gazpacho-like dish.
[GREEN] tea (NEW)

A two part dish.
Part one - green vegetable consomme made from steeping cabbage, fava beans, asparagas, garden peas, snow peas, edamame, mizuna and radish to form a very fresh, green vegetable taste.
Part two - the green vegetables that still retained their structural interity and taste that we enjoyed with a squirt of sudachi and matcha salt. 
Carpaccio (NEW)
Smoked young hokkaido goat carpaccio with rabe, pistachio, pistachio oil. I've never had smoked goat. It was smoky and salty and it wasn't too gamey and tasted close to beef.
Candleholder (2007)

Foie gras creme brulee, mango and kamquat jam with raisin and walnut bread. The foie gras that was buttery and the sweetness from mango and kamquat jam helped to cut through the richness to give the dish a good balance. One of our favourite dishes of the night.
Potato and Butter (2012)
A fluffy mashed potato ball (very gourmet pomme noisettes) that the chef hand split at the table and then topped it with shaved truffles on a "soil" made from miso, gorgonzola and walnut. Cute and tasty.
Shiro amadai (white tile fish) from Nagasaki with turnip on sake sediment and truffle sauce. The fish had a smoky tasting skin and sake sediment sauce was very good. It has a complexity that was probably developed during the sake fermentation process and when used in the sauce, the sauce had many dimensions - sweetish, efferversant and zing. Another one of our favourite dishes of the night.

Roasted duck breast and gobo (burdock) with hazelnut oil and pink peppercorns. Instructions to eat - the duck is hiding, we have to look through the forrest and to shake off the 'snow' (hazelnut oil) off the leaves to seek out the duck. Very well cooked duck with the bite of peppercorns. The gobo however stole the show from the duck on this one.
Grated Cheese ? (2009)
Shaved frozen apple with cinnamon and vanilla. Too airy to get some solid apple taste for me.
Chocolate mousse and vanilla ice cream with sugar glass shards. The main play on the dish was the sugar shards that look like ice needles during the Japan winter. I've haven't had that many winters and sugar isn't my thing, so this dessert was a little lost on me.
Petit fours
chilli chocolate, miso cookie, matcha cake and meringue.
After the multi-course tasting menu, I emerged with a smile having being a part of the theatre for that day. 
Sanyo Akasaka Bldg. 2
3-5-2 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tel: +81 (03) 3505-5052

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