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<<22nd February, 2018 – Hong Kong>> Kaiseki- ryōri, a traditional Japanese tasting course now known as the pinnacle of Japanese haute cuisine, is a time-honoured culinary tradition that typically culminates with wagashi dessert and a matcha tea ceremony. Kaiseki is an embodiment of omotenashi, or wholehearted hospitality that revolves around the central tenet of conveying respect by striving for excellence in every detail. Embracing the unique art of kaiseki, which also places the highest emphasis on the seasonality of natural ingredients, Kashiwaya Hong Kong unveils a new menu that pays homage to legendary Grand Chef Hideaki Matsuo’s distinctive culinary philosophy.
Led by his protégé of over 20 years, Head Chef Atsushi Takahashi has followed in his mentor’s footsteps to earn and uphold Kashiwaya Hong Kong’s two Michelin stars since 2016.
On 3rd February, households across Japan celebrated the long-running practice of setsubun (節分) as part of harumatsuri, the annual spring festival. Marking the official beginning of spring on the old Japanese lunar calendar, “setsubun” translates to “seasonal division” wherein the new season is ushered in with practices such as mamemaki (soybean tossing) which is believed to drive away evil spirits that might have wandered too close to the physical realm. The Grand Chef has specially selected each ingredient in a similar vein of warding away bad spirits as the seasons converge. The new menu at Kashiwaya Hong Kong is thus an ode to the seasonal transition to spring, bringing forth tantalizing new aspects and expressions of the seasons, and served within Kashiwaya’s own menu format carried over from Osaka.
Proving that a single valuable tenure can hone one of the greatest chefs in the world, Atsushi Takahashi owes his culinary success to the 21 dedicated years of training under Hideaki Matsuo, chef-owner of three Michelin star Kashiwaya in Senriyama, Osaka. For six years in a row, Takahashi has witnessed his legendary mentor uphold three Michelin stars at Kashiwaya Senriyama – never once faltering in its esteemed status.
In 1996, Takahashi graduated from one of the top three culinary institutes in the world, TSUJI Group Vocational School in Abeno ward, Osaka. As a fresh graduate at only 19 years of age, Takahashi joined Kashiwaya Senriyama as an apprentice to Chef Matsuo. 21 years later, Takahashi continues to learn from his mentor, and now, has been tasked to helm Kashiwaya’s first international outpost in Hong Kong. In Kashiwaya Hong Kong, Chef Takahashi follows the same philosophy of creating seasonal menus with artistic and beautiful presentations, preserving time-honoured Kashiwaya traditions from the cutlery to the kitchen utensils and ingredients used. Under his helm at Kashiwaya Hong Kong, the restaurant achieved two-Michelin stars in the first year of operation in 2016.
Bringing the most authentic Kashiwaya experience from Osaka to Hong Kong, Head Chef Atsushi Takahashi has worked closely with his teacher, chef Matsuo, to craft four thematic kaiseki menus to welcome the spring season. With ingredients hand-picked for quality by Matsuo-san himself, the menus showcase old techniques and innovative presentations. Priced at 1) HK$680 for 6-courses, 2) HK$1,800 for 9-courses, 3) HK$2,800 for 10-courses, and 4) HK$4,000 for 12-courses, all menus share in common a sakizuke (appetiser) and mizumono, or a liquid-based palate cleanser, to conclude. Menus 2-4 also include a finale of homemade wagashi dessert, a sweet Japanese confectionary traditionally served with tea.
For the 6-course HK$680 lunch menu, guests will start with charred yomogifu, the milt of codfish cooked in oil, fresh, mountain vegetables and a sprinkle of shaved yuzu as sakizuke. The second course is nimono (simmered dish) of tender seabream, crunchy bamboo shoots, Japanese plum and warabi fern simmered in a shiru stock, served in a traditional Japanese bowl. The third to follow is tsukuri-nishu, or two assortments of sashimi, which consist of tairagai Japanese clams and seasonal white-meat fish. Following the main served in a traditional 2-tiered box (one of which is thick-rolled sushi with 7 different ingredients) will be a traditional rice set with three sides, concluding with an orange-strawberry mizumono.
On the 9-course HK$1,800 dinner menu, guests will be taken on a journey through quality ingredients sourced directly from Japan such as hamaguri (Asian hard clam), hotate (scallop), amaebi (sweet shrimp), hotaru ika (firefly squid), flash-seared baby octopus, and yakimono (grilled dishes) such as yuzu daizu (soybean) and simmered sardine. For a comforting final savoury dish, Chef Takahashi will serve a refined rendition of traditional Japanese ochazuke (tea on rice), and finally, desserts of wagashi and fruits.
The 10-course dinner menu priced at HK$2,800 expands particularly on the hassun (a platter measuring 8-inches of complementary foods from either the seas and the mountains or the fields and the streams) and yakimono (grilled foods) courses. On the hassunplatter is the extremely rare noresore young conger eels, baby octopus and burdock root, among others. Yakimono include bamboo shoot spring roll, scallops and white fish.
The HK$4,000 dinner menu is the ultimate cha-kaiseki menu showcasing the season’s best in 12 meticulous courses. Starting with the hamaguri, kuruma ebi, caviar and Japanese sea urchin with rare vegetables, the menu goes on to more appetisers using prime ingredients such as firefly squid, burdock root and herbaceous butterbur sprouts. The sashimi course includes fresh seabream, ika squid and toro; and yakimono features amadai (tilefish) grilled with one of Japan’s renowned delicacies enjoyed customarily at traditional tea ceremonies, karasumi (bottarga). Another seasonal dish that features exclusively on this special menu is kamameshi (Japanese mixed rice dish cooked in an iron pot called kama) with abalone and bamboo shoots. The meal concludes with wagashi, and a fruity trio of strawberry, melon, and orange.
Kashiwaya Hong Kong is the only overseas branch of the famous Michelin three-starred restaurant Kashiwaya in Osaka. Kashiwaya Hong Kong received two stars from Michelin Guide Hong Kong Macau 2017.
Established in 1977, the restaurant was first opened by Hideaki Matsuo’s father, Tadanori Matsuo. Hideaki Matsuo, the current owner, returned in 1992 and assumed the role as Head Chef of Kashiwaya after training in Tokyo. During his training, Hideaki Matsuo was inspired to develop his own philosophy of creating dishes. By taking over the family business, he was able to fully express his own personal philosophy of food and art.
Passionate about retaining traditional, high quality kaiseki experience, while balancing food, atmosphere and service, Kashiwaya has remained as one of the most reputable and long standing restaurants in Osaka. The restaurant received two stars from Michelin Guide Kyoto Osaka 2010 and three stars since Michelin Guide Kyoto Osaka Kobe 2011 for seven consecutive years.
Hong Kong Inspirations:
In 2014, Hideaki Matsuo decided to branch outside of Japan to share this unique culinary experience to other parts of the world. Hong Kong was the natural choice. Local Hong Kong people enjoy different gourmet experience and appreciate the fine art of many types of cuisines, especially Japanese food. Hideaki Matsuo believes that local people are sophisticated customers and there are no truly kaiseki type of restaurants in Hong Kong.
After much planning and preparation, Kashiwaya (柏屋) in Central was open in 2015. Located on On Lan Street, Hideaki Matsuo spent an enormous amount of effort recreating the feel of his Osaka restaurant. To fully appreciate the layout of the restaurant, each customer must first enter through a set of unlocked elevators. This ensures that each customer will walk through and experience the carefully selected artwork and design prepared.
Kashiwaya Hong Kong was designed by Professor Yoshioka Sachio, the world famous fifth-generation master textile dyer and historian. The washi papers on the wall are dyed by Professor Yoshioka Sachio. The painting at the front door, clay pot vase and matcha bowls are made by Shiro Tsujimura, renowned Japanese potter and artist who has his work exhibited in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and The British Museum in London. The special pattern paintings in the dining hall are from Karacho, a famous papermaking factory who has very long history in Japan. Even the wall on the corridor is decorated with washi wallpaper in a unique pattern that was solely owned by the Sugino family in Kyoto that dates over six hundred years of history. All these settings allow the customers to be immersed in a vibe of Japanese art and culture.
To ensure the quality and consistency of the food, Hideaki Matsuo has entrusted his student, Atsushi Takahashi, with over twenty years working experience at Kashiwaya, to be the Head Chef in Hong Kong. Integrating Hong Kong local’s love for true kaiseki experience, Matsuo and Takahashi carefully designs the seasonal menu by importing the freshest ingredients directly from Japan.
Since opening in Nov 2015, Kashiwaya Hong Kong has already built a loyal customer base. Hideaki Matsuo’s dream has come to fruition. In 2016, Kashiwaya Hong Kong received two stars from Michelin Guide Hong Kong Macau 2017.
Address: 8/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong
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