Posts tagged Japan
Kawamura: Beyond Great Steak, the Peak of Yoshoku in Tokyo

In addition to well-known examples such as tempura, yōshoku is a self-reflexive optic of a Japanese observing himself cooking Western dishes. I have thus far had only mild interest in Western-influenced restaurants in Japan, until I visited a few ingredient-driven temples over the past 12 months: Kawamura, the 7-seat counter restaurant specializing in wagyu and abalone; Comptoir Feu, a creative kappo restaurant in Osaka; and CHIUnE, which references other cuisines such as Piemonte for its consommé and China for its sublime shaoxing ice cream. Technically, the latter two restaurants are not yōshoku per se, as they do not rehearse the staples of the repertoire (hamburg steak, curry rice, et al.), whereas Kawamura san mainly cooks within these parameters. Normally yōshoku as a genre does not prioritize the ingredient foremost but rather the established codes of the dish. Kawamura is thus an exception in sourcing premium ingredients for the familiar repertoire. Gastroville former contributor Mikael Jonnson was among the first to expose the qualities of Kawamura’s wagyu to the anglophone world. It bears adding to Mikael’s account that Kawamura is probably the highest elevation of a yōshoku restaurant.

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Japan Journey Journal, Part Two: Restaurant Yanagiya, A Revered Country Cuisine Sketched In Charcoal

Japan has more than its share of difficult-to-book restaurants, particularly some of the sushi and kaiseki ones in Tokyo. In planning his recent trip to Japan, a provincial restaurant named Yanagiya caught Robert Brown’s eye because of its sky-high score on Tabelog, the Japanese restaurant-goer’s rating site. That it also was the only one of its breed–an irori restaurant, an old, traditional but dying class of grilling-over-charcoal cuisine–among the elite Tabelog restaurants really stirred his juices.

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Japan Journey Journal, Part One: Tokyo Dining, Particularly Sushi, Overall

What France in the 1980s was and what Spain continues to be since the early 2000s is what Japan is today—a pre-eminent “go to” country for the inveterate gastronomic traveler. The entire country, however, is blessed for its rich and varied produce, too rich and varied to go into here. What you notice in watching the chaotic, unsightly, unplanned scene rolling past your Shinkansen window is that thrown in with the five-to-ten story apartment blocks; the landless single-family houses with brown tile roofs and a car port; the pachinko parlors and small industrial “ateliers” are small plots of land on which grow rice, vegetables or other produce. It’s no wonder, then, that the Japanese have a gastronomic landscape in the most far-reaching sense of the term.

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Tokyo Journal by David Kinch

"The Michelin guides awards more three stars to Tokyo than to any other city in the world, but for many of us, including myself, the very best of the Japanese cuisine remains a black box. Kinch, owner and chef of the Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos, where I had some of my best meals in the States, has visited Tokyo with a Japanese friend who helped him navigate some terrain unknown to Westerners." Vedat Milor

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