What’s inside a Japanese fine dining restaurant?

Close up on a Japanese dish in Yamazato at Hotel Okura Manila
Chef preparing food in the kitchen at Hotel Okura Manila
Closeup of food plate in Okura At Home at Hotel Okura Manila
Chef Prepared Food dish in Yamazato at Hotel Okura Manila

There’s something about Japanese haute cuisine that tells a story the moment a dish is laid out on the table. From the delicate choice of garnish to the simmering, fresh broth, and even to the use of ceramic ware, the precision of the food presentation is just as clean and targeted as the flavor profiles. But, what exactly composes the luxurious art of Japanese fine dining?

Looking back at history, did you know that Japanese haute cuisine influenced French cuisine? Every plate was theatrical. Kaiseki, a style of traditional Japanese cuisine in the 1500s which centers on small, intricate dishes, accompanied the ancient tea ceremony when nouvelle cuisine was created in the late 1960s.

Nouvelle cuisine is characterized by the authenticity and simplicity of crafting dishes. The subtle trace of minimalism in cooking and the use of light sauces all lead to bringing ingredients to its prime state without completely transforming it. For them, it was the highest level of dining.

Hotel Okura Manila is about to offer this kind of experience to Japanese fine dining enthusiasts in the country through the opening of Yamazato. Chef Rinnosuke Mouri, Yamazato’s Japanese executive chef, brings to the Philippines his extensive culinary experience from luxury settings such as JFE Roponggi Club, Okura Tokyo, and Okura Prestige Taipei.

What makes Yamazato a premium choice for Japanese haute cuisine is its menu that changes with the season. Sourcing a major portion of their ingredients from Japan, Yamazato’s dishes vary depending on what produce comes out of each season. “We refer to four seasons in Japan, and use the ingredients which are best in that season as much as possible because the seasonality respecting nature is the essence of the Japanese cuisine, and we are proud of our authenticity,” says chef Mouri.

Aside from the ingredients, they also have a thorough concern for how their food is presented. Chef Mouri demonstrates a few examples: ingredients are laid on a bed of finely crushed ice to highlight the coolness during the summer season and the real red-colored maple leaves or carrots cut in to the shape of leaves are added to the plate to remind of the autumn season.

“For instance, Japanese cuisine is beautiful to the eyes. Most of the items on the plate are edible, including edible flowers and sprouts. They are carefully selected and cut; not only it is delightful to look at, but its taste also enhances the charm of the main ingredients or serves as a refreshment,” says Mouri.

The visual elements of a dish matters a lot to Yamazato as this adds to the seasonality of the dish. Even their use of earthenware and ceramic plates from Japan vary per season. A lot of aspects go into highlighting their food and so they really pay close attention to the presentation.

One of Yamazato’s main offerings is the eight-course Kaiseki Ryouri which composes of seasonal appetizer, clear soup, sashimi, grilled dish, simmered dish, meat dish or fried dish, rice set, and dessert compose the full course. They also have a teppanyaki counter. Teppanyaki translates to “teppan” meaning hot plate and “yaki” meaning grill. The chef cooks the guests’ choice of ingredients right before them, preparing it according to their preference.

This upscale fine dining by Yamazato is set to bring in stories expressed through their carefully crafted dishes. What they greatly pride on is how they incorporate omotenashi in every course they serve—service that comes from the heart. Through attention, imagination, and anticipation, Yamazato intends to create and enhance the dining experience tailored in every scene and occasion.

“Filipinos are well known for their genuine warmth from the heart, which gives the Yamazato Manila the synergistic effect,” says Mouri.

Yamazato can also be a venue for business meetings and intimate gatherings as they also have private dining rooms. With the well-heeled, simple luxury of Yamazato—and now that we all have an idea of how the Japanese does fine dining—the future of Japanese haute cuisine in the Philippines is bound to a good start.


Read on F&B Report