Food Review,  Japanese

Flavour of Hanami: A Cherry Blossom Celebration

Hanami is a  traditional Japanese custom of enjoying the ephemeral beauty of flowers and welcoming spring. Also known as the “cherry blossom festival,” this annual celebration is about appreciating the temporal beauty of nature. It’s a joyous occasion where people from all over gather under blooming cherry blossoms for drinks, food, songs, companionship and marveled at the beauty of Sakura (cherry blossoms).

Cherry Blossom
Credit to Google

This time around, we can truly enjoy right here – Isetan The Japan Store, KL in the Flavour of Hanami exhibition of which we were given the opportunity to enjoy one of the finest and exclusive dining experience with a live presentation by Chef Shogo Sasaki from the famed restaurant IZUU in Kyoto. Chef Sasaki is known for culinary dexterity which he showcased a sneak peek as he prepare to give a live presentation of his two signature dishes that would be the Saba-sugatazushi (Whole Mackerel Lightly Matured Sushi) and Chirasizushi (Scattered Topping Sushi) 

Chef Sasaki explains the fundamentals of sushi making

IZUU is famous for their mackerel sushi with history of established around 200 years ago in Kyoto when mackerel sushi was still food available to the rich people only. However IZUU serves not only mackerel sushi, but offer various traditional Kyoto sushi that goes well with sake. Chef Sasaki demonstrates his precise culinary skills by removing parts from the Saba that might be of resistance which is skin lining including blood vessel to reduce fishy taste and bones for easier consumption.

Chef Sasaki prepares the sushi

The vinegar rice is then mold by pressing firmly to ensure all those air pockets is pushed out and sliced Saba is placed on top of the molded vinegar rice. Kelp is used to hold in shape. Fun fact of kelp being a seaweed is a staple in many Asian cuisines, as this type of sea algae is a natural source of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that it could tough to bite on. The sushi is roll with the plain thin cloth firmly. It’s sliced to size and voila, it’s ready to be served. There is side ginger to clear the palette to ensure the pure taste on every bite.

The sweet Sourish vinegar rice with the saba which is fresh and the saba has a clear distinct taste that is not limited by any fishy taste. A intricate delish bite for a remarkable culinary craft

The finished Saba-sugatazushi ready for the guests at the event.
The meaning in IZUU is the rabbit shape
Saba-sugatazushi (Whole Mackerel Lightly Matured Sushi)

Next Chef Sasaki demonstrate the Chirasizuhi. The process starts with minced shitake mushroom  which is mixed with minced fish into the vinegar rice. Once it’s done, the rice is placed into the bowl, layer it with shredded egg that is shred thin akin to noodle which follows by prawn, squid and seabass. Chef Sassaki spread shredded black fungus on top as the finishing touches and for garnish.

The blend of sweetness infused in the rice with minced shitake mushroom and the sea bass is amazing. The shredded egg along with the topping gives a mouthful of taste.

Mixing the rice for Chirasizushi
Chef Sasaki preparing the second dish for demonstration, the Chirasizushi (Scattered Topping Sushi).
Chirasizushi (Scattered Topping Sushi)
Chirasizushi (Scattered Topping Sushi)
Chef Sasaki showing the two dishes he demonstrated the Saba-sugatazushi and Chirasizushi .

Red bean mochi is serve to cleanse the palette as the taste combination from sushi remains.

Red Bean Mochi
Mr. Ken Fukutake, General Manager of Media Content Planning Department, Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd., Chef Shogo Sasaki and Chef Takeshi Matsuo, head chef of Restaurant IZUU in a group photo.
Chef Shogo Sasaki and  Chef Takeshi Matsuo are all smiles for the camera.


Available from 21 Jan 2017 to 25 Mar 2017

Explore the Flavours of Hanami

“Japan’s traditional hanami (cherry blossom viewing) season is an opportunity to enjoy delicious Japanese food for yourself. The traditions and crafts of hanami and Japanese cuisine are introduced along with the ‘omotenashi’ spirit of hospitality through photographs, videos and experience-based events. Make sure to try the special hanami-themed assorted plates prepared by four renowned young proprietors of traditional washoku (Japanese traditional cuisine) restaurants.

Flavour of Hanami

Venue: 3F THE CUBE / CUBE_1 (Isetan, The Japan Store – KL)

[Spot Event]
IZUU: 21 (Sat) & 22 (Sun), Jan.
TSURUSE: 18 (Sat) & 19 (Sun), Feb.
CHIKURIN: 4(Sat) & 5(Sun), Mar.
KINOBU: 18 (Sat) & 19 (Sun), Mar.
Only 25 seats available for each session

[Entrance Fee]
Adult: RM30
13–17 years: RM15
12 years and below: Free
Spot Event: RM100

*Spot event ticket for tasting of assorted plates.”

Chefs Introduction :

Shogo Sasaki (Izuu)

He is the 8th generation owner of a Kyoto sushi restaurant established in 1781. The special feature of his famous mackerel sushi is that it is made large to look its best in the rooms of the entertaiment district. As a specialist in mackerel sushi, he carries on the tradition of the flavours and culture of Japan.

Nobuyuki Tanaka (Tsuruse)

He is a 4th generation owner of a restaurant and inn that was established in 1932. Set against the backdrop of a luxurious inn complete with large hall and individual overnight guest rooms, he constantly strives to provide exceptional customer-based service and cuisine.

Hideki Shimoguhi (Chikurin)

He established this restaurant in the Uji area of Japan, which is famous for its tea. He is also actively engaged in activies to increase the appeal of innovative culinary techniques using matcha green tea and hoji-cha tea and in conveying Japanese cuisine otuside of Japan.

Takuji Takahashi (Kinobu)

Qualified as a senior sommelier, he is an innovative chef engaging in the discovery of new Kyoto cuisine including wine pairings. The restaurant excels at bento boxes created using the techniques developed as a store specializing in catering.

Schedule :

1) Shogo Sasaki

Date : 21st & 22nd January 2017
1st Session : 12pm – 130pm (22nd January only)
2nd Session : 3pm – 430pm (22nd January only)
3rd Session : 6pm – 730pm (22nd January only)

2) Nobuyuki Tanaka

Date : 18th & 19th February 2017
1st Session : 12pm – 130pm
2nd Session : 3pm – 430pm
3rd Session : 6pm – 730pm

3) Hideki Shimoguchi

Date : 4th & 5th March 2017
1st Session : 12pm – 130pm
2nd Session : 3pm – 430pm
3rd Session : 6pm – 730pm

4) Takuji Takahashi

Date : 18th & 19th March 2017
1st Session : 12pm – 130pm
2nd Session : 3pm – 430pm
3rd Session : 6pm – 730pm
So wait no further and visit Isetan, The Japan Store – KL to be part of the experience in refined culinary craft.

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