命の出汁 – broth of vigour

an adventure in japanese cuisine, an obsession with the izakaya


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Jiro Dreams of Sushi

The first I had heard of Jiro Ono (surprisingly to me) was a few months back when I went into Chef’s Armoury to grab some bits and pieces. While there I was forced at gun point to buy one of their 5th Anniversary Yanagiba’s (thin knife used to slice fish and seafood). My wife’s interpretation of this event was a fat old guy with a sorry look on his face begging to buy a new toy. Either way, I came home with a sensational new knife.

Along with a lovely certificate of authenticity from the factory, included was a signed menu book from the 3 Michelin Star rated sushi restaurant owned and run by Jiro Ono. Although completely in Japanese it is an exquisite little tome outlining the menu items and ingredients utilised in his establishment.

Straight away I hunted for the DVD and I must say it is a gem. For anyone with a penchant for Japanese cooking and want to see extreme sushi at it’s best you must watch this film.

“Once you decide on your occupation,” says Jiro, “you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and is the key to being regarded honorably.”


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Return of Iron Chef Sakai

Reading around the traps it appears that Iron Chef French Hiroyuki Sakai will make an appearance on this weeks episode of the new series of Japanese Iron Chef. Sakai will introduce a “nominee” – challenger to the Iron Chef. Hopefully, as with Michiba’s appearance in episodes 2 & 3 he will be on the commentary panel and get to taste and judge.

The culinary critic, Asako Kishi, from the original series will also be back this week on the judging and tasting panel. Kishi always had quirky things to say in the original series but until this is overdubbed or subtitled it wont help those of us without Japanese language skills. She can be as quirky as she likes in Japanese but it will be all Greek to me!

Watch out on the Iron Chef Fans site on late Friday night or Saturday morning for the new episode.


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iron chef returns to japan

One of the biggest surprises out of my recent trip to Japan was seeing this billboard while walking down a side street in Shibuya.

Some intense googling on my return to where I was staying exposed the return of the Japanese version of Iron Chef. I was fortunate enough to see the double episode premiere while I was in Japan (most fortunate as my friend could tell me more of what was going on). Fans of the show outside of Japan can get them from this site, along with varying quality versions of the original series.

I have mixed feelings about the three episodes I have seen so far. It is wonderful to see the original format mostly retained; the overseas versions never really kept the theatrics and awe of the original version. Some of the new Iron Chefs will be familiar to fans as at least one has done battle in the old kitchen stadium. The new Chairman hasn’t inspired me yet, it is tough to match the impressive Chairman Kaga. The first problem with him I think is he has worn the same clothes in the first three episodes which seems to be like a uniform. Kaga would always wear something crazier each episode and I was convinced for many years that he had purchased the wardrobe from the Beatles “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” Photo shoots. The new Chairman also is a little lacklustre on his introductions to the challengers and the ingredients for my liking.

Keeping a link to the original has been done very well, with Iron Chef Chen Kenichi presenting the “Nominees” (challengers) for the first two battles in the premiere. One of these was his son who gave it a good showing even though he lost the battle. Also, Iron Chef Rokusaburo Michiba (now 81 years old) appears in the second two episodes as a commentator, judge and taster. He has that kind of Sean Connery / Japanese James Bond look going, particularly with the light brown kimono, cravat and big glasses. The king of commentary, Dr Yukio Hattori returns as commentator also. Once again the poor man doesn’t seem to get the chance to taste the food.

These are not overdubbed into English, currently straight from Japan. Hopefully Food Network in the US will take it on board and do their magic as in the original series (cooking show treated like something from the wide world of sports, awesome). My Japanese is limited to hello, thank-you and food ingredients but I still find it very entertaining. It is amazing how, with many languages, much english has slipped into the vernacular.

You can keep tabs on what is happening on the Fuji TV Iron Chef Facebook Page and I will no doubt blog more on this revival as the series progresses.

Until next episode “Good Gastronomy!!” (OK, I think that Allez Cuisine was sexier too)