Rothay Manor Blog
Culinary Adventures in Japan – Part Two – Osaka
Today I journeyed to Osaka to start the next part of my adventure. I took the bullet train out of the city, and spent a pleasant few hours watching the world fly past. Stepping off the train I was met with another orderly and clean city, and once again the people were so friendly and helpful.
I didn’t have much on the agenda today, I found my hotel and made myself familiar with the local area, before heading to the Michelin starred Rakushin to meet the head chef and team before I start my placement with them tomorrow.
I met with the owner/head chef (Shintaro Katayam) from Rakushin at 7am, and together we visited the local market to shop for fish and vegetables for the restaurant. He showed me around the stalls pointing out other local ingredients and how he would prepare and serve them. He treated me to sushi for breakfast (I’m still getting used to eating dishes like sushi for breakfast…I’ll be grateful for some toast when I get back home!)
We headed to his restaurant, Rakushin (the name means “spirit of adventure”) and I was thrown in at the deep end, helping the team to prepare dishes for lunch service, and again for evening service. They use so many ingredients that our western-tastes would never even consider from cod milt (google it!!), varying examples of baby fish and fugu (pufferfish). I helped to cook the cod milt, wagyu beef and trout on the BBQ and plated a lot of the dishes for evening service.
I started back in the kitchen at 9am and got straight to work, helping to prepare fish for service. Katayam showed me his way of making ponzu (a citrusy vinaigrette) and together we marinated baby sardines. I watched as he prepared the Fugu, removing the toxic parts (I’m not sure I’d be comfortable doing this job on my own!). I was then instructed to prepare the fins to be dried, which would then be added to sake. I then finely sliced the skin and membrane and cooked some of the meat. I didn’t consider that I would ever be doing a task such as handling pufferfish (a quick search on Wikipedia told me that between 34 and 64 people are hospitalized, and six people die, each year, when handling/eating Fugu! 😳)
I had the afternoon exploring some of the sights of Osaka before heading back to Rakushin for dinner. It was an incredible experience, made even better as I was familiar with the preparation of the ingredients. Before you ask, I did eat the fugu, I actually found it a little tasteless, so I guess the joy in the eating is from dicing with death! The cod milt was soft and creamy, not at all what I expected! I really enjoyed the evening and loved sitting watching the chefs doing what they do best.