ARAS Journal regularly collaborates with chefs to discuss how to use ARAS at home and to expand the range of serving styles. In this issue, we interviewed Mr. Toru Okagawa "Ponta" Okagawa, owner of PLAT HOME, and Mr. Tatsuya Uemachi, representative of secca inc. We asked him to serve dishes using ARAS vessels, and he talked about how he enjoys serving dishes and the concept of dishes and vessels. This is the first part.
Please enjoy the professional chef's thoughts on serving dishes using ARAS, how he enjoys serving them, and actual examples of serving dishes.
PLAT HOME is a creative restaurant located in Hikosan-cho, Kanazawa. The restaurant is housed in a renovated 100-year-old Japanese warehouse, and the interior is decorated with Japanese antiques as well as American and European antiques. The space harmonizes sophisticated Japanese-based creative cuisine with warmth.
Smoked blue" and "smoked gray" are new smoked colors like frosted glass from "Platter Wave" and "Deep Dish Scoop". The distinctive slanting shape of the "Angled Small Bowls" creates movement at the dining table when arranged or stacked.
Food and vessel session
The purpose of this year's event is to deliver a "life with vessels" rather than just using vessels as "tools". We want to share "a life with aras" as a lifestyle.
Even people who like cooking, it is not easy to find people who can think of "how to cook this kind of dish" on the spot when they touch a dish. In that sense, I wanted to get hints from a trusted chef like Okagawa-san.
I believe that everyone enjoys cooking in their own way. For example, you can use this "Naname Kobachi" by turning it upside down. There is no correct answer. A little bit of playfulness enriches the scenery of the dish. This time, too, I created it with the image of "this is how I would serve it.
sea bream, kintoki herb, gyoja garlic, sake lees, shiso flower, pea vines
We chose fish based on the idea that "wave = ocean," and sprinkled sakekasu (sake lees) in powder form to represent a sandy beach. As an accent, gyoja garlic from the spring was made into a paste and used as a sauce. From the top are shiso flowers and pea vines. The dish is arranged in the image of early summer as if it were a plate of waves, so that you can enjoy the scenery of the vessel.
Japanese beef, pumpkin, tomato, sweet sake, gari (ginger)
In contrast, here the meat is arranged showing the flat side. The pumpkin is made into a paste for color. Tomatoes are dressed with amazake and ginger ginger.
The vessel is a culinary kimono
As a professional chef, how does Okagawa-san confront the existence of "tableware"? Is there a role that you look for in a vessel?
Because it is Japanese cuisine, the vessel is one of the accents. Nowadays, we sometimes use herbs and vegetables to create colorful dishes, but basically, Japanese food is often subdued in terms of color. In this sense, Japanese food places great importance on the vessel, so much so that it has been described as "the kimono of cuisine.
It also affects flavor. If the dish is 80% of the overall flavor, the remaining 20% is compensated for by "which dishware is used to serve it. Including the vessel, we consider 100% of the flavor.
It means that the view of the food influences the sense of taste, right? The relationship between Mr. Okagawa's culinary viewpoint and his vessels as expression is very interesting. Many of the vessels used in your restaurant are original pieces made by artists.
Originality always appears in objects born from a person's experiences. This is true not only for tableware, but also for cooking. For example, even if I were to teach someone what I have been trained in, the flavor and appearance would be slightly different. It would not be exactly the same dish. I believe that this is the "personality" of the individual and the essential part of the person.
If the dishes are made by someone with whom I have the same feeling, they will always match the dishes. If a person's personality matches mine, then the food and the vessel will be a good match. We can build a relationship that enhances each other. This is the reason why I often order dishes directly from the artist.
The relationship between the food and the vessel enhances the flavor. This is quite close to our goal of "creating things that can only be created through conversation.
A "place" called PLAT HOME and a "person" called Toru Okagawa "Ponta".
The name comes from two sources. The first is that we want our customers to feel like they are at home when they come to visit us. The second is the image of a "platform," a place to get on and off a train. We would be happy if people pass through this space as they encounter each other and depart on their journeys. From encounters at this place, stories will be derived.
I am from the Higashiyama area of Kanazawa. It is a place where traditional buildings line the streets, and the scenery of olden times remains intact. My grandmother was a geiko, and she also performed in the ozashiki and taught dancing. My mother also worked as a geiko until my brother and I were born. In the town of Higashiyama, there are more people who have stores than people who live there.
There was a restaurant called Jiyuuken, and the young brothers of the cooks took care of us as young children. When we were in the back of the restaurant, they would call out to us, "Go lower the dishes," or "Go wash the dishes. That was play for us. The interaction with the older brothers and the scene of them working seemed so enjoyable. That is when I first became interested in the world of food.
Ever since I can remember, I have been immersed in the traditional culture of Kanazawa. Is that where you became a chef?
For the first 10 years from age 20 to 30, I progressed with the goal of owning my own restaurant; for the next 10 years from age 30, my goal was to experience many things and broaden my horizons. I took away the boundaries of "Japanese food" and expanded and interpreted it to the concept of "cuisine. The idea is how to incorporate Chinese, French, Italian, ethnic ...... various ideas into Japanese food.
It is interesting, and I have a sense that the dishes I have created in my 20s and 30s, incorporating what I have experienced, have recently converged. The dishes that used to be lively are gradually becoming simpler and simpler. Perhaps it is the changes in the past few years that have made me more flexible in the way I think about ingredients and more aware of the "playful spirit" in cooking.
For me, too, this place is a "platform. It is not an end point, but a place where my dreams lie ahead.
Can you tell us about this dream?
One of my goals is to eventually return to Higashiyama and open a restaurant. It will be counter only, in the style of kaiseki cuisine, which is close to the royal way of Japanese cuisine, and will serve course meals to customers within my sight. I want to incorporate everything I have experienced so far - what I have seen, eaten, and felt in Japan and abroad - into Japanese cuisine and express it in Higashiyama.
That is why it is important to experience a variety of things. I actively travel abroad to incorporate different approaches to "food. Different cultures use the same ingredients in different ways. As I expand my range, I want to take the time to cut down and ultimately express the world of simple Japanese cuisine.
The casual element in Japanese food was a mechanism to expand my range as a chef. We are very much looking forward to Okagawa-san's future.
Continue to Part 2