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, DonsKawai Building B1F, 1-7-6 Ginza,Chuo-ko, Tokyo
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best world meat?
eye lo descubrió en abril de 2014
“The assignment came from my boss in London, to seek out and eat the best steak in Tokyo. Tough assignment from Chowzter, but Shinji and I were up to the challenge. We were surprised when we called Dons de la Nature and got in within a few days. Seems that this restaurant is not yet on everyone’s radar.
The restaurant is located in an unassuming basement on the main Chuo Dori street in the Ginza shopping district. Walking into the corridor leading to the elevator we feel as though we are in the wrong spot, until we spot the window filled with wine bottles and the name of the restaurant. We arrive and the okami-san (female manager overlooking the front of the house) is very friendly and down to earth. She takes our jackets and brings us to our table.
This evening there are only two options of steak, a filet from Yonezawa in Yamagata and a sirloin from Saga. The sirloin is highly marbled and has more fat than meat. The filet, while meaty, still has a nice amount of shimofuri, the white fat that is flecked throughout the meat. The steak is cut into 400-gram portions and cooked in one piece before it is cut and shared, so couples must agree on the same cut. The sirloin looked too fatty so we agreed on the filet.
Saga sirloin on top and Yonezawa filet on the bottom
While the interior is tired and service is casual, the cuisine on the plate is taken very seriously. Chef Otsuka trained as a French chef and it is reflected in his carefully assembled salad topped with fresh crab legs, Japanese tiger prawn, and salmon. The consommé is classically made and I quickly forget about the environs and focus on the food.
The steaks start at about 30,000 JPY each ($300 USD) which is shared between two people. That is before soup and salad. There is also a course menu which starts at 21,000 JPY per person. We took wine by the glass but there is also a long list to choose from of mostly French wines.The raising of kuroge wagyū (black-haired Japanese cattle) in Japan is very different from what you’ll find outside of Japan. The cows are grass-fed the first eight months of their lives. Each farmer selects the feed he believes to be best for the wagyū, such as soybeans or corn or straw. The last four months of their lives the cows are not fed straw anymore. We asked chef Otsuka if it is true that wagyū are fed beer and he said some places do, but that it is actually quite rare. But, he did confirm that wagyū are massaged daily. This is what helps to give the beef the shimofuri marbling that it is so famous for.
Chef Otsuka came to our table and talked about how he selects his wagyū. He only picks the best that he finds at the wholesale market so his inventory is constantly changing. He has no preferences or loyalties to any region, but will pick what is the best that day at the market.
The wagyū is first dry-aged for one month, increasing the natural umami in the meat. The second month it is wet-aged. At this point the fat in the meat turns into amino acids, adding even more umami to the meat. The aging is all done in-house.
Chef Otsuka could see that we were so curious about our dinner as we peppered him with questions and he generously invited us into his kitchen. The meat is skewered and then cooked in a kiln that was custom built for the sole purpose of grilling the meat with intense heat. The charcoal used at Dons de la Nature is made from Kinshu binchotan. Binchotan is a charcoal made from a Japanese oak tree. And, while many places may say that they use binchotan for grilling, the best quality binchotan is said to come from Kinshu, and the stock is very limited. Some binchotan is not even Japanese. We were told the binchotan can bring the oven to a temperature of upwards of 800 to 1000 degrees Centigrade.
Chef Otsuka seasons the wagyū with salt and pepper, skewers the steak, and then puts it into the kiln over the binchotan. He then closes the kiln and listens for the sound of the fat in the wagyū melting and falling onto the hot binchotan. The charcoal then starts to smoke, adding another layer of flavor to the steak. An Argentinian chef friend of mine recently told me about the seven ways to cook meat in Argentina and one of the methods was in a similar kiln. I wonder if this is where chef Otsuka came up with the idea.
The recommended serving for the steak is medium rare. The outside is just seared in the middle is still red. The steak is presented whole and then is cut at the table into two pieces for each person.
The steak is incredibly rich in umami. The contrast in texture from the crispy seared outside to the tender, rare inside is a treat. As the steak is marbled with fat it almost melts in your mouth. After my first bite “oh my God” came out of my mouth. I didn’t realize it until I heard the okami-san laughing. It was, hands down, the best steak I have ever had in my life.
In speaking with chef Otsuka after our meal he said what makes his steaks so unique is the searing in the custom-made kiln. Otsuka explained that most restaurants cook steak in a pan over a gas heater and that the sauté pan can only get up to about 250 degrees Centigrade. He also said that as wagyū is so fatty that when it is cooked in a pan that it is cooking in its own fat. And, that the searing directly over charcoals is the method that he thinks is ideal for Japanese beef.
This is what makes his steak the best in Tokyo, if not the best in the world.”
eye lo descubrió en marzo de 2014
If I had to name my “cantine”, only one restaurant,where I’ve been most in the recent years, it would be Takara (14 Rue Molière, 75001 Paris). It’s a traditional Japanese restaurant located in Paris “Little Japan” where you can have anything from sushi to shabu shabu or sukiyaki. I think it’s success lies not in the traditional waitresses attire or that the decorations and ukiyo-e prints on the walls make you travel to Japan. Even when you order simple lettuce with avocado and Japanese sauce, you are sure that the ingredients will be of top quality. Takara is always full with regulars (especially during fashion weeks) and visitors from Japan, so booking is a must. (And it’s on even listed on Michelin, who can explain that?)
what a fish store and food store SHOULD be
eye lo descubrió en marzo de 2014
We are Kristin and Dan Donovan, married with children (Joey and Ned). Hooked opened in March 2011 in the Leslieville neighbourhood of Toronto. Why here for our first store? We have lived here for over 10 years, have been a part of its evolution and just plain love it.
Hooked in the Kensington Market neighbourhood of Toronto opened in October 2012. Why here for our second shop? Kensington is a diverse, vibrant, engaged and evolving area that made perfect sense for a store like ours.
We are chefs first - professional cooks (we met while studying at the Stratford Chefs School). We and our team have years of experience with food as cooks, chefs, restaurateurs, caterers, wine educators and culinary teachers - and we love seafood!
Hooked is a different fish store.
For a number of years, Kristin and I have been part of a shift in the chef community that is bypassing the traditional supply chain and buying directly from producers. It is both quality choice and a need to clarify where our food comes from; how it was handled and why. We are proud to deal personally with our local fish farmers and Great Lakes fishers, know exactly where our fish was caught, how and when. We handle all of our own freight to ensure that we have control of our fish from the moment the boat arrives at the dock, both on Western and Eastern shores.
What does all of this mean to you, our customer?
1. We carry only fish and shellfish from clean waters, healthy stocks, that have been caught using methods which do no harm to other species or to the surrounding environment. Our farmed fish is carefully vetted: slow growth rates, low population densities, no hormones or antibiotics.
2. Our fish arrives to the shop fresh out of water. As we use no distributor, there is no delay between the processor and our door. Fish is seasonal: our frozen fish is caught, cleaned and blast frozen within hours out of water, ensuring the best possible product year round.
3. We and our amazing staff are here to help. We offer expertise, insight and direction on how to select and then cook the fish you purchase. We have a selection of marinades and sauces developed and made by us to elevate your meal to 'wow'.
4. We have incorporated a teaching kitchen into the store, offering a variety of affordable and informative classes to guide and empower our customers. We also offer private events and instruction, geared to fun, information and cooking technique.
Since opening, we have been fortunate to connect and develop strong relationships with focused organizations including Slow Food, Slow Fish, OceanWise, Ecology Action Centre, George Brown College, SeaChoice and the Evergreen Brickworks.
We look forward to meeting you and exploring a world of thoughtfully selected seafood together.
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