Posts Tagged ‘kombu’



I have often thought to conduct interviews in Japan, but a few times the language was a barrier to entry. This is a real first interview in Japan (Tokyo) with the indispensable help of The Skinny Bib, probably one of the best “food bloggers, reviewers and/or foodies travelers” in the world. And when I say “Food blogger”, I imply: cooking enthusiast, rigorous, intellectually honest and trying to take photos where the image quality is equal to the quality of dishes. So I had the chance to discuss with one of the best young chefs of the moment: Zaiyu Hasegawa (Jimbocho Den).

Chef Hasegawa was born in Tokyo in 1978. His mother was a geisha who entertained customers in a “ryotei” (traditional high-end Japanese restaurant). Zaiyu became interested in Japanese cooking under his mother’s work and influence. After the high school, he started working at a well-known “ryotei” called Uotoku. It is a few years later, at the young age of 29 he opened a small “unconventional” restaurant called DEN, and since Den has received several accolades (Michelin stars, Tabelog Japan etc.). Given the hierarchy in Japanese cuisine, it is rare to see a young chef in their thirties already obtain such praise.

The “cuisine” at Den is a very personal “vision” of “Kaiseki ryori” (Japanese haute cuisine) by the chef Hasegawa. That is to say, playful, creative, inventive, seasonal, close to nature and focused on the pleasure of the customer first. The interview with chef Hasegawa is an example of short answers that imply much, simply read between the lines and watch her “cuisine”…

An “Électron libre” in Tokyo dedicated to creativity, products and customer happiness!


Q+A WITH ZAIYU HASEGAWA (www.jimbochoden.com):

1-(Scoffier) What is the philosophy behind your “cuisine” in general?

ZHasegawa– To make people happy and express myself.

2-(Scoffier) Do you have a flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?

ZHasegawa– My most favorite taste is my mother’s cooking. Also, when she was
geisha, she sometimes brought home bento (Japanese lunch box). I like both.

3-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular foods (or products) that you often use in your recipes?

ZHasegawa– I always use dashi (Japanese stock), Japanese tea and kuzu (starch from Japanese root vegetable)

4-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires you in your career?

ZHasegawa- Everybody that I meet.

5-(Scoffier) What are your source(s) of inspiration to create a recipe?

ZHasegawa– Inspiration comes from my customers, producers and staff, and how to make them all smile.

6-(Scoffier) In everything I have read and seen on you, each dish seems to experience, there is a playful side. This is important for you?

ZHasegawaPlayfulness is a very important thing for me, partly because I only speak Japanese. I want my food to communicate. I always try to talk to customers through my dishes.

7-(Scoffier) Did you change your “kaiseki” menu often?

ZHasegawaMy menu changes all the time according to seasons and availability.

8-(Scoffier) The restaurant is perceived by some Westerner (foodies, journalists) as one of the best in Tokyo now. How is it perceived in Tokyo (by the journalists, foodies etc.)?

According Skinny Bib– “Jimbocho Den is one of the most well-received restaurants in Japan. Currently, apart from its two Michelin stars, it is ranked as third-best restaurant in Tokyo on Japan’s restaurant ranking website Tabelog. Chef Hasegawa’s cooking and hospitality is also creating buzzes overseas, most reputedly in Brazil”.

9-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or other) that is characterized the cuisine of Den and Zaiyu Hasegawa?

ZHasegawaRecipe:Salad” is my signature dish.

10-(Scoffier) What are your goals (ambitions) as chef or for your restaurant ?

ZHasegawaI hope everybody will come to my restaurant.


RECIPE: “Salad” By Zaiyu Hasegawa

I use a few cooking techniques for each component that goes into my salad. Some leaves are served fresh and raw; some pickled; deep-fried; braised in stock; roasted; grilled. Each component has different texture and temperature. The ingredients vary according to seasons and come from a special grower. I often dust root vegetables with tea. Sometimes I add fruit. The dressing is made by cutting kombu into small pieces and mixing them with sesame oil.


JIMBOCHO DEN/Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa
1010-0051 2-2-32
Jimbocho, Kanda, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo (Japan)


1. The Skinny Bib (the best guide), About the Fine-Dining in Japan (Tokyo), February 2013

2. The Japan Times, Review of 2012 by Robbie Swinnerton, Dec. 28 2012

3. Tokyo Food File (Long review + photos), May 2013

4. Spanish Hipster Blog (review), June 2013

© Credits for photos at: #1– Portrait by The Skinny Bib/ #2– “Salad” by Jimbocho Den.

Tous Droits Réservés. Copyright Scoffier © 2008-2013


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Let me say that if the plate (assiette) of those Chefs are as generous and of the quality of their responses, we can assume that we will have a great time. Every encounter was a wonderful discovery, but The Australians chefs blew meaway! They have a very distinct personality and a very unique cuisine thatmixes technique, technology and influences from Spain, Japan, Thailand as well as New Zealand.

After having started this Series with some Australian chefs (Ben Shewry, Martin Benn, Dan Hunter, Mark Best…) who are became Coups de coeur, I’m back with two very young chefs who love food and breaking the rules. Thomas Lim was trained in the kitchens of Tetsuya Wakuda before opening The Duxford, his pirate restaurant, the perfect place to develop creativity. Regarding Mitchell Orr, the winner of Josephine Pignolet Young Chef of the Year 2010, he learned his craft of Giovanni Pilu (Freshwater) and Martin Benn (Sepia) before to open and become co-chef(s) of Duke Bistro in 2010.

The restaurant is young, but the chefs are developing a unique style, unique to Australia. Their cuisine is fun and creative with a strong focus on the flavours. It is edgy and authentic; It Is finger food versus haute gastronomy techniques!

Everyday they reinvent themselves in their cuisine, this will sometimes give recipes to forget and often flashes of genius! Stay tuned for several years…


Q+A WITH THE CHEF THOMAS LIM + MITCHELL ORR (www.dukebistro.com.au ):

1-(Scoffier)– How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine and what is it main characteristics?

TLimOur food reflects our appetite, knowledge and personality. We believe cooking and eating is all about enjoyment, therefore we don’t take ourselves too seriously and try to take a more relaxed approach in the kitchen. We are constantly reading and learning about old and new techniques, new ingredients and certain ideas that all play a part in how we structure and execute a dish. As long as our food is always evolving and delicious, which is what we really try to display on our menu.

2-(Scoffier)– This interview is with you and co-chef Mitchell Orr, how is the work divided between you two? And how is
the creative process between you?

TLim Between us we develop the whole menu. Even though our training backgrounds are quitedifferent the way we think creatively are pretty in sync. We may often disagree on certain points or ideas but that difference of opinion is a strength, often leading to the one missing element that will take a dish to the next level.

Either one of us may have an idea for a dish and through bouncing theidea back and forth between us we will come up with different options on how to bring the dish to life. From there we test and refine until we are happy with the completed version.

This process keeps us thinking, evolving and grounded in what we are doing.

3-(Scoffier) Do you have a flavor or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?

Thomas – Warm soda bread with cold butter along with bacon and cabbage at my Grandmas place in Ireland. One
of those memories where everything played its part, from the aroma of the bread to the weather outside. Brilliant!

Mitch – Catching rainbow trout and cooking it whole over coals at my grandma’s in Gippsland Victoria. The freshness of the fish along with the smoke from the coals is probably my first really amazing food memory.

4-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular foods (or products) that you often use in your recipes?

TLim- Although we don’t cook one cuisine we tend to use a lot of Japanese products in our cooking. Things such as kombu, dried wakame, mirin, sake and white sesame oil add depth and umami giving us more complete flavor profiles in our dishes.

We may be inspired by a flavor, ingredient or dish more common place in Italian cuisine, through our training we are then able to use Japanese
ideals to complement the ingredient or take the dish in another direction.

5-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires you in your cuisine?

Thomas – Jeremy Strode showed me how to execute restraint on the plate and to stand behind your food no matter where you are. Mike Eggert and Darren Robertson inspires me to push myself and keep evolving.

Mitch – We’ve both been lucky enough to work with and for some amazing chefs, both older and of our generation. Working for Giovanni Pilu taught me a lot about terroir and pride in your region (He is Sardinian), Martin Benn taught me a great deal about umami and friends such as Puskas, Mike Eggert and the TOYS family keep me motivated and searching for new techniques and ideas.

6-(Scoffier) I have discovered with this Serie several extraordinary chefs from Australia (Best, Shewry, Benn, Hunter,
Puskas etc.) and I often ask this question: Is there any an Australian signature cuisine presently?

Thomas-I don’t think there is a signature Australian cuisine, yet. However I think we can count ourselves extremely lucky to have a number of chefs who display and interpret their own idea of what Australian cuisine is all over the country, therefore we have a wide spectrum of different styles and flavors that all relate to Australian cuisine.

Mitch – I don’t think there is a signature Australian cuisine either. Without that long clear history that most of Europe and Asia have it’s a very hard thing to define. The multicultural nature and abundance of different cuisines here is a massive influence and strength. I don’t believe we need a singular “Australian” cuisine to define us.

7-(Scoffier) How do you develop (your inspiration) your recipes and construct your menu at Duke?

TLim- We try not to limit ourselves to where we draw inspiration from, whether it’s a new or old technique, an ingredient, something we have eaten, a particular time of the year or something we may have seen outside of the kitchen. Generally our menu is changing all the time, if a certain menu item becomes tired or boring to us when we are cooking it or too popular or we feel the dish is perfect and its had a good run we remove it.

We don’t really want people coming with a pre-conceived notion of what Duke is, we’d rather people come and have their own experience. We try and avoid having signature dishes for this reason.

8-(Scoffier) Foraging is very popular among several chefs in Scandinavia and elsewhere in the world. But these are often
countries where many products are not available off season. Australia is very different, it seems that you have fresh vegetables and fruits at all times. Is foraging is a trend and is it necessary in Australia?

Foraging is very popular at the moment and we think it’s great, however in New South Wales we are quite limited to what we can collect from our natural surroundings compared to anywhere in Europe. Still there are plenty of wild flowers, weeds, berries and some mushrooms around. With the help of our good friend and chef, Mike Eggert, we are able to collect and supply the restaurant with a small bounty of weeds, flowers and
cress’s everyday.

9-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or other) that is characterized the cuisine of Thomas Lim &
Mitch Orr at Duke Restaurant?

TLim– Recipe: Leather Jacket Cheeks, Chicken Skin, Rouget Mayonnaise

10-(Scoffier) What are your goals (ambitions) as chef or for your restaurant? Do you think about write a book, a television show, others restaurants?

TLim- We are still a very young restaurant so at the moment we are just going to concentrate on Duke and continue to build the business, one day at a time and enjoy ourselves.

RECIPE: Leather Jacket Cheeks, Chicken Skin, Rouget Mayonnaise



-2 leather jacket cheeks, skin removed

-2 pieces of chicken skin, 10cmx10cm,

-0.5g TG – meat glue

-Sea salt

-2 cabbage leaves

-1 tbsp rouget

-20ml grapeseed oil

-Garlic chive flowers


-Place chicken skin, skin side down, a flat surface with the leather jacket cheek in the centre at a 45° angle.

-Take the top left and bottom right corners of the chicken skin and fold towards the centre. Dust the cheek and the two centre folds with TG, then fold in the two remaining corners of skin ensuring the wrapped cheek is a tight little package. Repeat the process with the other cheek.

-Seal cheeks in a vacuum bag and allow to set in the fridge for 1 hour.

-Place a pan on high heat with a 20ml of grapeseed oil. Season cheeks and pan fry 30-40 seconds each side.

-Remove from pan and fry cabbage leaves till crisp.

-To assemble, spread rouget mayo on plate placing both cheeks across the mayonnaise with cabbage leaves and garlic chive flowers on top.


Rouget Mayonnaise

-30g rouget stock

-150ml grapeseed oil

1. Using a stick blender in a cylinder gastronome, slowly add grapeseed oil to rouget stock while

Rouget Stock

-6 rouget frames

-1 head garlic

-1 brown onion, sliced

-1tsp fennel seed

-1tsp celery seed

-1tsp cumin seed

-1tsp black peppercorns

-2 bay leaves

-1tbsp tomato paste

-50ml Pernod

-Grapeseed oil

1. Roast rouget frames in a hot oven for 20 minutes.

-Place a pot on a medium heat and fry off
onion, garlic and spices in grapeseed oil. Add tomato paste and cook for a
further 2 minutes.

-Add Pernod, followed by rouget frames then cover with hot water.
Simmer for 90 minutes, pass through an oil filter. Reduce stock by 50%.



-Duke Bistro/Chef(s) Thomas Lim + Mitchell Orr

65 Flinders St. Darlinghurst

Sydney, NSW 2010



1. Food in the fast lane, Sydney Morning Herald, May 31 2011, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/restaurants-and-bars/food-in-the-fast-lane-20110528-1f93c.html

2. Young guns blazing, The Australian Magazine, April 9 2011, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/executive-lifestyle/young-guns-blazing/story-fn49ohsg-1226034587079

3. Carte Blanched, The BlackMail…, February 2011, http://www.theblackmail.com.au/food/carte-blanched/

4. The Loft Project (London), Event with T. Lim + M. Orr, July 29-30 2011, http://www.theloftproject.co.uk/news/


Tous Droits Réservés. Copyright Scoffier ©2008-2011

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