********** Yoshinori Ishii Executive chef of Japanese restaurant UMU in London ******************

------------------ 英国の日本料理店 UMU 総料理長 石井義典 のつれづれなる話 ------------

Saturday, 9 November 2013

2nd pop up restaurant in Frieze Master 2013

 Following last year, Frieze Masters art fair was held at Regent’s Park once again and Umu has also successfully showcased pop-up restaurant for the second time within its site. The preparation had begun few months back, and this time around, a team of apprentices took initiatives and showed potential leadership, which led us to great prosperity. To acquire fish of the same standard of quality as those used at the restaurant daily, but doubled or tripled in quantity, was not only difficult but, combined with the unfortunate weather from the middle of the week, became an almost impossible request for the fishermen to meet. However, by the supports from many, we have overcome these 6 days soundly and with huge accomplishments.
I would like to thank again, as I had also expressed in the previous year, to producers& merchants who continue to support us on daily basis, staff of Marc restaurant who flexibly familiarized themselves with serving Japanese cuisine in an also unfamiliar setting, and finally, Umu staff who, by cooperating with one another, carried out hard work at both the pop-up site and the restaurant. Thank you. 

 昨年に引き続き、Frieze Master art fair Regent Parkにて行われ、UMUにとって二度目となるポップアップレストランが終了しました。数ヶ月前から準備を始めましたが、今年は二度目だけあって若手のチームが率先してリーダーシップを発揮し、大盛況に終わりました。Mayfairのお店で使われている魚と全く同じレベルのものを普段の数倍の量揃えるのは大変で、さらに週の半ばからの悪天候になって漁師の方には無理を言いましたが、多くの方の協力もあって無事6日間が終了しました。
 いつもご協力いただいている生産者、業者の方々、初めての日本料理のサービスを、初めての場所で臨機応変に手伝ってくれたMarc restaurantのスタッフ、そしてお店とポップアップレストランの両方を掛け持ちで協力し合ってくれたUMUの全てのスタッフに感謝、感謝の1週間でした。

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Robb Report Culinary Masters competition Vol.2

Vol.2 Menu 

(Amuse bouche) 

“3 city style of sushi bite size” 
Rock crab zucchini
Seared toro with Japanese herbs
Sockeye Salmon Temari with plum sauce, white asparagus 

3 varieties of sushi as amuse bouche, prepared by Mark who accompanied me all the way from London. Types of Sushi comprised a variation of Edo-style classic sushi, an inspiration that came from Kyoto’s specialty Temari-sushi and a contemporary original from Umu, London. All served in a bite-size to be enjoyed along with cocktails.

(Fruits of Summer Sea) 

Santa Barbara sea urchin with grilled eggplant mousse, umadashi jelly
Abalone, mirugai (geoduck), scallop, botan-ebi, fresh almond,
Miso mustard sauce, egg sauce, chive oil, corn-flower 

1st course for the sit-down dinner was “Fruit of the Summer Sea”, a dish derived from “Nuta” – a Japanese dish with vinegar and miso seasoning. White miso & citrus-based “Karashi-su-miso” sauce (mixture of mustard, vinegar and miso) and chive oil were arranged on a plate with a collection of shellfish to complement each other. Slow-steamed abalone, blanched scallop, botan shrimp that lightly marinated in sake and bonito, and fresh Geoduck clam – a range of shellfish used and the cooking method applied on each ingredient altogether added diversity to the plate. Sea urchin was served with grilled aubergine & chick pea puree to create a harmony of sweetness and bitterness. 


“Usuzukuri” of fluke with chirizu 
(Message from Chef Yoshi in his own woodblock print)
“Billions of People, from Hundreds of Countries,
be Happy together, with one Delicious Dish”

Circumstances, such as the dinner being held at a hotel, restricted Japanese tableware from being an option as a part of presentation, and yet I bore a strong desire to challenge myself in preparing a 60 serving “Usuzukuri” (thinly sliced sashimi) plate. Consequently I came to a decision to handcraft a woodblock print, as my first trial ever, with a message that would be made visible through a glass plate. A Japanese culinary culture to enjoy polychromatic artworks of crockery through freshly preserved and thinly sliced fluke that coincides with the concept of transparency; Japanese traditional techniques in woodblock print and handcrafting a paper; with these techniques, my message was written to the world, and upon which example of Japanese culinary art was presented; and most of all, a delight combination of perfectly chilled, transparent sashimi and refreshing lime-based sauce “chirizu”; all of the above were compiled and concentrated within what was offered on the single glass plate.

The idea of this particular dish I developed immediately after I’d received the nomination has come to an actual form after months worth of preparation for the woodblock print and a profound search for a local fisherman who would provide a fresh fluke that could be kept alive up until the dinner. This plate became the one that most strongly connected to my heart.  


Maine lobster, tofu bisque, yuzu foam 

3rd course was an original dish from Umu, and also a devoir to MORIMOTO’s signature dish Lobster Epise – “Lobster Shichimi-yaki with tofu bisque”. Blue lobster from Cornwall or Scotland is typically the main ingredient for the dish at Umu, however red lobster from Maine State was used instead for this particular dinner. Lobster meat from tails and claws was heaped, after grilled in high temperature until crispy on outside, upon bisque that was created from a mixture of corail sauce, tofu and thick stock from shells. The dish is accented with home-blended shichimi, buttery scent and yuzu foam.


“Wagyu beef” 
Mushroom rice, farmer’s market bouquet
Demiglace wasabi soy sauce, mushroom sauce 

4th course centered on a proud specialty of Japan, Wagyu beef. On the side were a variety of mushrooms I acquired at Farmers Market in Santa Monica, and a bouquet of vegetables, the idea that came to my mind right there at the market. Topped with a wasabi sauce, prepared over 6 days period since we had landed.  


“Beverly Hills’ Garden” 
Green tea, Ginjyo-sake 

Finally, “Beverly Hills’ Garden”, a piece from my playful mind offered as 5th and the final course. The venue was the terrace area of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, a landmark-like building located at the entrance of the Rodeo Drive, and my plan was to create a setting for the guests to enjoy doing a little “gardening” at their tables. Umu’s signature dessert “Charamisu”, flavoured with matcha green tea and Daiginjo sake, was “planted” in a flowerpot and garnished with edible flowers. To finish, guests “water” the flowerpot with white peach-infused Daiginjo sake from a miniature watering can.


Vol.2 Menu

(Amuse bouche) 

 “3city style of Sushi bite size” 
Rock Crab zucchini
Seared toro with Japanese herbs
Sockeye Salmon Temari with plum sauce, white asparagus


( Fruits of Summer Sea) 

Santa Barbara sea urchin with grilled eggplant mousse, umadashi jelly
Abalone, Mirugai (geoduck), Scallop, Botan-ebi, Fresh almond,
Miso mustard sauce, egg sauce, chive oil, corn-flower


“Usuzukuri” of fluke with chirizu 
 (Message from Chef Yoshi in his own wood-Block print)
 “Billions of people, Hundreds of countries, Happy together, with delicious foods”


Main lobster, tofu bisque, yuzu foam 
三皿目はUMUのオリジナル料理でもあり、MORIMOTOのシグニチャーディッシュであるLobster Episeに敬意を表した料理でもある“ Lobsterの七味焼き、豆腐ビスク”。UMUではCornwallやスコットランド産の青ロブスターを使っていますが、アメリカではメイン州の赤ロブスターを使いました。殻から取った濃厚な出汁と、コライユ、豆腐を合わせたビスクを敷いた上に中がほんのりあたたかく、外はパリッと高温で焼き上げた尾とハサミの身を盛り、自家製ブレンドの七味とバターの香り、柚子の泡でアクセントをつけました。 


“Japanese Wagyu beef” 
Mushroom rice, farmer’s market bouquet
Demiglace wasabi soy sauce, mushroom sauce


 Field of Beverly Hills  
 green tea, ginjyo-sake 


Robb Report Culinary Masters competition Vol.1


I flew to Los Angeles to participate in the Culinary Masters competition, invited and held by an American luxury-lifestyle magazine Robb Report.  
An Iron Chef Mr. Morimoto, one of this year’s beyond-impressive members of Master Chefs, nominated me as a participant and I had been preparing little by little for the past 2 months. Entertaining 60 guests at a setting of a local hotel without making preliminary in a familiar kitchen of own restaurant required profound consideration into the menu and meticulous planning based on researches.

After landing and checking in at a hotel in Santa Monica, we made a brief round of visits to the Farmers Market and the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, where the competition dinner was to be held. Arriving from London, our hearts skipped being surrounded by the Los Angeles’ clear sky, the sea and refreshing breezes. Although, our stay regrettably consisted of only back and forth travels between the kitchen and the accommodation.

A concept of the menu was a three-fold which I adopted from exactly what I pursue at Umu everyday: 1. to use the best ingredients available locally, 2. to implement most suitable technique according to each ingredient, and finally the ultimate, 3. to put smiles on guests’ faces through the experience.
Local information came to me through a circle of acquaintances I had come to know during my time in New York. Mr. Kang, an executive chef at Morimoto Napa, introduced me to numbers of outstanding producers and merchants. Other than world-widely popular sea urchin of Santa Barbara, striped shore crab, sweet shrimp, Mexican abalone and halibut were frequently seen in markets. Additionally, a wide range of quality fruits and nuts being available as local specialties got me excited to be able to take all ingredients in my actual hands.  

Despite hadn’t had the chance to see each other since the event meeting during London Olympic 2012, Mr. Morimoto provided me with this honorable opportunity and trusted me with taking charges, not only from culinary side but also in every factor involved. Moreover, I appreciated this special occasion for allowing me once again to have a great pleasure working alongside with Mr. Morimoto, and together giving our best to enliven this prestigious event.

Dan from Darioush, the wine sponsor of the Culinary Masters, created a refined selection of wines, that were chosen upon advises from Darioush’s Japan division, to specifically be paired with my dishes.  

Achieving to put smiles on the guests’ faces was highly credited to the supports from staff on site, whom includes: the Robb Report team led by Leslie who ensured smooth operation since the laying of groundwork, and Head Chef Gilles and his kitchen and service team at the hotel. Special thanks goes to Sous Chef Masa who, from the moment we landed, welcomed and had been attentive to any smallest issues, regardless to the fact that he worked by forgoing his holiday. 

Finally I am always thankful to my staff who, during my absences, continue to protect and maintain the “Umu way”. How I wished I could have taken every one of them with me…

アメリカのラグジュアリーライフスタイル雑誌、Robb Reportのマスターシェフコンペティションに招待され、ロサンゼルスに行ってきました。


到着してサンタモニカのホテルにチェックインした後、ファーマーズマーケットや会場となるビバリーヒルズにあるBeverly Wilshireホテルに挨拶に行く道中、ロサンゼルスの青い空と海、すがすがしい風にロンドンから来た私たちは心浮かれました。結局滞在した六日間の間仕込みに忙しく、ホテルと調理場の往復だけに終わってしまい、ほとんど街を楽しむことが出来なかったのが心残りでした。


現地の情報はニューヨーク時代の知り合いのつてを通して、いろいろと集めることが出来ました。Napa valley MORIMOTOExecutive chef, Kangさんからは多くの素晴らしい生産者、業者を紹介してもらうこともできました。Santa Barbara近郊で獲れるウニは世界的に有名ですが、それ以外にも岩ガニやボタンエビ、メキシコアワビ、ハリバットなどがよく獲れていました。また、果物やナッツなどの素晴らしい産地でもあり、食材を実際に手に取るのがとても楽しみでした。



現場のスタッフも準備段階から全てをスムーズに取り仕切っていられたLeslieさんをはじめとしたRobb reportの方々、到着早々からもホテルの副料理長であるMasaさんに迎えられ、その後も料理長のGilles率いるキッチンのチームやサービス担当の多くの人に支えられて多くのお客様の笑顔を見ることが出来ました。特にバケーション返上で出勤され、隅々まで気を遣ってくださったMasaさんには心から感謝しました。 


Friday, 31 May 2013

Elvers(Glass eel)fishing Gloucester  シラス鰻漁

London opened up an another opportunity for me and allowed me to get to know Mr. Dai, a chief of smoked goods merchant (i.e. salmon, eel, etc.) and also a supervisory figure among a group of fishermen specialising in elver fishing – a type of young eel I had been searching for quite some time to acquire.  I made a detour on my way home from Cornwall and stayed in Ross-on-Wye, a small but deeply historical town located on River Wye in Herefordshire. During daytime, I have enjoyed fishing Atlantic salmon and trout at beats of River Wye owned by Mr. Dai, while experiencing and observing Britain’s traditional elver fishing at night before its season comes to an end.     
Mr. Dai’s facility attracts significant number of licensed fishermen to bring in captured elvers one after another throughout the night, which then will be temporarily gathered in a large-scale vessel designed for its exclusive use. Eel is already aged two by the time it finishes travelling a river upstream, nonetheless it will not have fed on bait and survives the long journey by obtaining sufficient energy from nutrition stored in its stomach since it was a larva. The captured elvers are, then, accustomed to be fed cod roe within the vessel  before being transferred to farming facilities located all over Europe.
When I arrived at the fishing spot, I was truly surprised by how classic the fishing method employed was. A net with approximate length of 30 inch (the biggest size allowed by the regulation) is laid at ankle high to simply scoop up the elvers pushed to the shore by waves triggered by changes in a tide, which occur twice daily at morning and night. The net is constructed based on profound consideration, and all equipment used, including a structure of wooden frame for a net designed to safely hold captured elvers, are handmade by each fisherman.
Elver fishing in Japan, where single glass eel is now priced at markets for almost £3, is facing endanger due to uprooting of all elvers caused off the shore by an use of a huge-scaled four-armed scoop net. While being shocked by the old-fashioned technique still used at fishing site in the Britain, I realized the obvious advantage and its necessity in order to preserve the nature.
When a question popped out from a fisherman regarding to my culinary experience with elvers, my answer was a poor one, only having to have few back in Japan, also at very high rate. After hearing the story of my lack of opportunity despite constant search for elvers at various locations, such as Spain, he began heating up a pan over an open-fire. Bacon and its lard would be the first choice, but instead we fried hand-carried sausages as substitution and used melted grease as cooking oil. I expected to try only a bite considering its high value, nonetheless he generously poured everything we had caught during 4 hours worth of fishing since sunset into the heated pan. A lightly sautéed delicacy, possibly priced more than few thousands Euro at fine dining restaurants, carried a unique month-feel within its complex flavor. For the unexpected and extremely privileged experience I was given, I want to say thanks again to Mr. Dai and all other fishermen.
Additionally I was filled by a sense of satisfaction for being able to land an Atlantic salmon for the first time in my personal fishing life. Again, I would like to thank everyone I had met during this amazing trip.
以前から私が探し続けていたElvers,シラス鰻漁をしている漁師の取りまとめ役であり、サーモンや鰻などの燻製を作っている業者の親分であるDai氏とロンドンで知り合い、Cornwallからの帰る途中、Ross on WyeというWye川沿いにある歴史的街に滞在し、日中はDai氏の所有するWye川のビートでアトランティックサーモンや鱒釣り、夜中にシーズン終了間直の英国の伝統的なElversフィッシングを見に行きました。
彼の所有する施設にはライセンスを持った釣り人が夜通しに獲ったElversを持ち込み、専用の大型タンクに一時的に入れられます。川を昇ってきた時点で鰻は2歳だそうですが、まだ一度も餌を口にしたことがなく、卵から得た、お腹にためた栄養だけで長い航海をするそうです。タンクの中でしばらく慣らされた後、Cod Roe(鱈の卵)を餌として与えられ、餌付けされた後、ヨーロッパ中にある養殖施設に送られるとのことでした。

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Cuttlefish fishing in Cornwall紋甲烏賊漁、早春のCornwall

For a brief period of 2-3 weeks, cuttlefish comes to the coast of Cornwall during its spawning season. Cuttlefish, in comparison to other members of class Cephalopod such as squid, has never been favoured in Great Britain, thus has neither been particularly cherished at markets. The fact that cuttlefish, if in its freshest condition, carries extreme sweetness and great texture, very pleasant on tongues, is often overlooked.
At Umu, we began receiving cuttlefish caught by fishermen of Cornwall, with which also an invitation to come and experience the fishing first-handedly. As updating and reassuring continuous practise of special fish preserving skill was too on my to-do list, I decided to visit Cornwall once again, only this time was in early spring.
Bright yellow colour of fields of tender-stem broccoli and deep green of fresh verdure, Cornwall in this gorgeous season of prosper was surrounded by colourful wild flowers and botanicals blooming in profusion. Only weather was being its usual imperfect self.
A technique used for cuttlefish fishing involves sets of trap – a cage one female cuttlefish is pre-captivated in before being laid down – into which attracted group of cuttlefish is lured towards. Unfortunately the trap on this particular day failed to capture any cuttlefish, leading us to practice gill net fishing instead. The final number of cuttlefish captured at the end of the day was, however, more than enough to completely cover us in its ink during performing removal of guts right there on the boat.
Additional entertainment I was privileged to come across was insightful tales told by the captain of the boat called Mario, a born and raised fisherman from Galapagos.
The next day, I took up the duty of preparing dinner to help Dylan and his wife Mutsuko who busied themselves for their pop up store at the farmers market. Using fish that had been freshly landed off the boat and vegetables I’d gotten from the market, I cooked a selection of 5 dishes. 15 cups worth of rice, mixed with sumptuous amount of crabs, were emptied in such a blink that I was stunned by the speed.

If I were able to deliver a sense of joy by my cooking to the family who by supplying the top quality fish makes us happy on daily basis, even if it was only the slightest, would have been my great pleasure.