From the Source - Japan by Lonely Planet

From the Source - Japan by Lonely Planet

Author:Lonely Planet
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781760343118
Publisher: Lonely Planet
Published: 2016-07-31T16:00:00+00:00


The ‘bowl’

The height of Japanese culinary tradition is the ‘kappo’ style of dining out, where customers are seated at a counter, face to face with the master, or itamae of the restaurant.

Chef //

Katsumi Tanaka

Location //

Konoha, Osaka

The itamae (master chefs) use their impressive sword-like knives behind the counter to create dishes that are works of art. And they must do everything in front of the customer’s eyes. This includes prep – like gutting the fish – and all cooking and assembly. It goes without saying that mistakes are not an option, and the counter is filled with an air of concentration.

In the Funaba area of Osaka, Konoha is a highly regarded restaurant of the kappo style, whose owner, Katsumi Tanaka, is a veteran of the business. Food is served in a multiple-course format. One-by-one, the sashimi, the tempura and other delicacies appear. The main dish however is ‘the bowl’, or the soup course.

‘The bowl’ starts with a stock, usually made of dried bonito flakes and kelp, with seasonal ingredients referred to as wantane, or ‘bowl seedlings’. The apparent simplicity belies the skill of execution and expertise of the itamae.

To eat the bowl, first lift off the lid and take in the intricate beauty of the presentation. Next, place the bowl in your hand and take a sip of the soup. The stock is considered the essence of Japanese cuisine and the quality of it really determines the skill of the itamae and the esteem of the restaurant.

Katsumi sources the ingredients at the market each day and keeps a vigilant eye on seasonal subtleties, reflecting these changes in the menu and ambience.

‘Japanese cooking is based on subtraction. It’s about intervening as little as possible with the ingredient, and seasonings are kept to a minimum. At the same time, one has to be creative in combinations of flavours so that it doesn’t get monotonous.’

There is that feeling of happiness that rises from your stomach as you finish ‘the bowl’, and this is certainly one of the heights of Japanese cuisine.


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