What are your earliest memories of being interested in food?
When I was 7 years old, my father made a pot of Ramen soup stock. We had an old style Japanese house and stove. Usually there was just a kettle on this stove and it was my mother’s domain. But this time, my father took over the stove and placed a big pot on it to make his stock. It took him 2 or 3 days to make the stock. I remember watching every day as he put different bones and vegetables in to simmer really slowly. The whole house smelled of this delicious stock for days. My brother, sister and I kept wondering when we would eventually be able to eat it. My mouth still waters now at the memory of that smell!
What would you say has inspired your cooking the most?
Kyoto kaiseki style and the taste of Hokkaido fresh ingredients from my childhood.
Describe your culinary style…
It is a very simple style. To get the best umami from the best seasonal ingredients. I do this the Japanese way without ever using butter or cream. I take tried and tested tasty Japanese dishes and then play around with the different parts of it to give it a fresh modern twist.
You are appearing at Who’s cooking dinner? 2016, can you tell us a bit about what you will be cooking?
I will be making several dishes. The main will be sea bass in champagne yuzumiso sauce.
Where did your inspiration for this come from?
As with most of my dishes, I took a very traditional Japanese dish and broke it down to all its constituent parts. Then I played around with substitute ingredients. In this case, I took the Japanese dish and I replaced Japanese sake with Champagne.
What are your most indispensable ingredients?
Konbu, Dried mushroom and Miso
What kind of experience do you aim to give guests at your restaurant?
I want them to walk away with the memory of how delicious the food was long after the meal, like a good piece of music or art. I like to build up flavours so guests get a sense of flavours subtly coming together and building throughout the dish.
What would you say has been the most memorable moment in your culinary career so far?
The day I started at Kikunoi Roan in Kyoto. I walked into the kitchen and there was total silence as all the chefs focused totally on the food they were preparing. It was like meditation or a military operation. It was very different from the noise and chaos of the other kitchens that I had worked in previously. I remember thinking this is what it feels like to be in a masters kitchen. This is what real cooking is about.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self, starting out a career in the world of food?
Do not be afraid to keep trying new things. Get out there in the world and experience working with great chefs and different styles .
What’s next for you/Whats projects do you have lined up?
Sake no Hana has some new exciting projects coming up in Asia which I’m very much looking forward to.
What is your guilty pleasure?
What restaurant is currently at the top of your list to dine at?
Ryugin in Tokyo. I am always blown away by the food there. That is a long lingering after-experience where you are still thinking about all the different tastes and combination of dishes long after you leave.
23 St James’s St
+44 20 7925 8988