Flavour of Hanami: Authentic Japanese Cultural & Culinary Experience

Kicking off the Flavour of Hanami exhibition, from 21 January to 25 March, guests experienced a live presentation and tasting by Chef Shogo Sasaki from the famed restaurant IZUU in Kyoto. They also discovered the joyous occasion of Hanami (cherry blossom festival) through feature photographs and videos and had the chance to indulge in an exclusive dining experience.

Presented by Dai Nippon Printing Co.,Ltd, the Hanami themed activities were presented in three different zones at the venue. The Gallery introduced visitors to the original Hanami bento boxes made especially for this exhibition, giving them the chance to experience the tradition and craft of Japanese cuisine.
At the Theatre, food lovers watched a high definition short movie, which gave an enticing insight into the four Japanese seasons and the history and foundation of Kyoto food, which is considered the best of all Japanese cuisine.
“We hope visitors will have the chance to discover for themselves, the essence of the Hanami, an ancient tradition of welcoming spring. While Japanese culture is popular among Malaysians, we want to give people a chance to discover the cultural aspects and culinary delicacies associated with the Hanami season,” said Ken Fukutake, General Manager of Media Content Planning Department, Dai Nippon Printing Co.
After an interesting tête-à-tête session, Chef Sasaki gave a live presentation of his two signature dishes - Chirasizushi (Scattered Topping Sushi) and Saba-sugatazushi (Whole Mackerel Lightly Matured Sushi). After the exciting demonstration, guests had the chance to indulge in Chef Sasaki’s authentic and delicious Kyoto-style dishes.
Known as the heir of the current 7th generation owner of IZUU, a Kyoto sushi restaurant established in 1781, Chef Sasaki is known for his culinary prowess in preparing the popular mackerel sushi. After training for three years at a famous sushi restaurant in Osaka, he joined IZUU, with the aim to preserve the flavours and culture of Kyoto’s mackerel sushi. The sushi specialist continues the tradition of his forefathers, adding significant touches of Japanese flavours and culture into one of his most-loved dish, to pass it to the next generation.
IZUU has been a part of Japan’s culinary history of being the first restaurant in the world to offer mackerel sushi, traditionally created at home by the citizens of Kyoto for celebrations and festival days as a treat. Since opening its doors to residents, the mackerel sushi dish has been a significant part of the entertainment district tea houses.
Flavour of Hanami, is a three-month exhibition with the aim to showcase Hanami culture and Japanese traditions. It also features four young and dynamic chefs from Kyoto. Today’s event is a prelude to the three more live presentations and tastings, held in February and March.
At the upcoming food tasting sessions, guests will be treated to live presentations of their selected dishes, and have the chance to try authentic Japanese cuisine, specially prepared by the four chefs. Each chef will provide their own unique menu of Japanese traditional cuisine, with tickets available for up to 25 guests on a first-come, first-served basis.

Details of the live presentations and tastings are below: 

Title: Flavour of Hanami | Live Presentation and Tasting
Date: Tsuruse Sat 18 – Sun 19 February
Chikurin Sat 4 – Sun 5 March 

Kinobu Sat 18 – Sun 19 March
Sessions: 1st 12.00pm-1.30pm/2nd 3.00pm-4.30pm/3rd 6.00pm-7.30pm

 *Seats are limited to the first 25 people

 *Doors open 30 minutes prior to start
Entrance Fee: RM100* GST is included in the price

 *Exhibition admission is included in the price

 *Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult
Venue: 3F THE CUBE/CUBE _1 (ISETAN the Japan Store Kuala Lumpur)

Ticket Office

Tickets for the following three sessions can be purchased at the ticket office, call
 03-2382 7777 or purchase online at www.eventbrite.com.

Programme Details
18 Feb (Sat), 19 Feb (Sun)

Nobuyuki Tanaka
He is a 4th generation owner of a restaurant and inn that was established in 1932. Set against the backdrop of a luxurious inn complete with large hall and individual overnight guest rooms, he constantly strives to provide exceptional customer-based service and cuisine.

4 Mar (Sat), 5 Mar (Sun) 

Hideki Shimoguchi
He established this restaurant in the Uji area of Japan, which is famous for its tea. He is also actively engaged in activities to increase the appeal of innovative culinary techniques using matcha green tea and hoji-cha tea and in conveying Japanese cuisine outside of Japan.

18 Mar (Sat), 19 Mar (Sun)

Takuji Takahashi
Qualified as a senior sommelier, he is an innovative chef engaging in the discovery of new Kyoto cuisine including wine pairings. The restaurant excels at bento boxes created using the techniques developed as a store specializing in catering.
Questions and Answers with Chef Sasaki
1. When do you know you wanted to be a chef and can you remember the first dish you made?
When I was a child, I used to go to Gion, an entertainment district of Kyoto with my grandfather. Wherever I went there, everyone recognized me as the heir of IZUU. IZUU has a history of 200 years. Growing up in a household with such a rich history, and being surrounded by cooking, food and culture, that's how I came to think that it was quite natural to be the owner-chef off IZUU in the future.

To be honest, I have never made any dishes before I entered the Sushi restaurant in Osaka, where I did my training. It was there when I touched prawns for the first time, which surprised the owner chef of the restaurant.

2. Who are your mentors/ idols when it comes to the Japanese culinary world? And why?
Mr. Eiichi Takahashi, the 14th generation owner-chef of HYOTEI restaurant in Kyoto.
I may never be like him. He has a perfect business sense, is noble and talented. He is always first-class – from what he says, presence, manners, sense of cleanliness, and more. He is not only a good chef, but has dignity, wealth and moral values.

3. What is it about sushi that you love so much?
Sushi is a big part of Japanese cuisine, and Japanese culture itself.  We Japanese have a variety of sushi, each one is associated with festivals and yearly events. Sushi is food for celebrations, which is eaten with family and friends all together to celebrate occasions. It is not only delicious food, but also deeply connected with Japanese lives.

4. What is your expert tip on making fresh, delicious sushi?
Saba-zushi and Chirashizushi were formerly made at home. What is most important is to enjoy cooking and eating it with family. You should add any ingredients you want, which leads to an original taste.

In the world of Japanese sushi, there are two types of sushi; Western sushi and Edo-mae sushi(Eastern). Edo-mae sushi is more popular among foreign countries, in which raw fish is placed on small rice balls. This type of sushi puts priority on freshness of fish. On the other hand, Western sushi kills its freshness and promotes preservatives and increases the 'umami' taste. Saba-zushi has to be marinated with vinegar and laid down for one night.

Though its freshness disappears, the 'umami' is drawn out and taste of kelp soaks into vinegar rice.
I think it might be difficult to make such "aging" sushi, so I would recommend to enjoy Saba-zushi in restaurant like IZUU.

5. What is your opinion about the development of Japanese culinary cuisine industry in the past 5 years?
Japanese culinary industry has been recently developing dramatically. Traditional techniques are being reviewed, and food is prepared using the latest science technologies. Also, the taste of 'umami', which is the ancient taste of Japan, is recognized among the world. Since there are many foreigners are coming to Kyoto these days, Kyoto has to accept various cultures. The research on Halal food is also developing in Japan now.

Fresh and young rookie chefs are active in Japanese cuisine. More and more new genres of Japanese restaurants are opening. Japanese cuisine receives inspiration from Italian and French as well. These days, the eyes of Japanese cuisine chefs are open to the world.

6. What are the challenges that you face being a chef for a top restaurant like IZUU?
I'm always challenging myself to improve the taste at IZUU. I subtly modify the balance of seasonings depending on the generations. The taste must be different from the way it tasted when IZUU opened over 200 years ago. I try to see things through the eyes of the next generation and continue to make small innovations in order to conserve our brand.

7. What is your advice for those who would like to pursue their dream to be a chef?
Compared with the past, it is now easier to be a chef. There is so much information, and you can learn varieties of cuisine by yourselves. Please think and feel without any barriers and create a lot of fascinating dishes. The more young chefs are born, the more we chefs are motivated to improve our tastes and develop the Japanese cuisine industry.

8.  What is the second dish Saba-sugatazushi (Whole Mackerel Lightly Matured Sushi) like? Can you explain the method of preparing it?
The mackerel for the sushi is marinated for a night with salt and vinegar and combined with vinegar rice. With Saba-zushi, the goodness of mackerel is drawn out as much as possible, with a balance of seasonings such as vinegar, sugar and salt, as well as 'umami' of the kelp. Even though there're a lot of famous restaurants in Kyoto, only two restaurants are famed for Saba-zushi. IZUU is one of them.
*IZUU's Saba-zushi is usually priced at 4500JPY (approx. MR180) for two persons, a premium price in Japan.

9. What is the first dish Chirashizushi (Scattered Topping Sushi) about? What's special about it?
"Chirashi" means scattering, and as its name suggests, Chirashizushi is a dish scattered a variety of ingredients and topping on vinegar rice. At IZUU, we scatter kinshi egg, prawn, squid and sea bream. It is colourful and beautiful dish for festivals, especially for Hina festivals, when people welcome spring.
Mr. Ken Fukutake, General Manager of Media Content Planning Department Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. welcomed guests to the exhibition and live presentation.
 Chef Shogo Sasaki and Chef Takeshi Matsuo are all smiles for the camera

Everydayfoodilove.coangeline-ong-yoga.blogspot.com. Thank you for reading our posts. Our team media coverage touches mostly on lifestyle events and focuses on happening scenes in Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu. Invite us for food reviews, travel and hotel reviews, KL clubbing reviews and product launches. Our other interests include the movies, technology and photography. Subscribe to my facebook page. Contact us via my email at: [email protected] or [email protected]


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