Friday, January 27, 2017

Flavour of Hanami: Live Presentation and Kyoto Food Tasting @ ISETAN The Japan Store Kuala Lumpur

Ever since the opening of ISETAN The Japan Store Kuala Lumpur, Japan feels closer to us. Sometimes, I thought why fly to Japan when I can even enjoy Hanami, the Cherry Blossom Celebration here in Malaysia! 

The Flavour of Hanami exhibition has just kickstarted at the Cube, 3rd floor of ISETAN KL, showcasing the beauty of Hanami and an exclusive dining experience with the chefs flown all the way from Japan. 

From left to right: Mr. Xavier Mah, X-Man of X-Group, Chef Shogo Sasaki, owner chef of IZUU, Mr. Ken Fukutake, General Manager of Media Content Planning Department Dai Nippon Painting Co., Ltd. and Chef Takeshi Matsuo, head chef of IZUU.

This exclusive Hanami-themed event is brought to us by Dai Nippon Printing Co. Ltd.,
so let the VIPs have a group photo together during the launch.

So what exactly is the “Flavour of Hanami | Live Presentation and Tasting”?

It is an 1.5 hour journey of being transported to Japan as an impressive recreation of Hanami atmosphere fills the venue. Divided into 3 zones (Gallery, Theatre and Lounge), one can truly experience the culture of Hanami and tradition and craft of Japanese cuisine.

The "GALLERY" - Understanding the culture of Cherry Blossom Viewing

You know during blooming time, Japanese love going for cherry blossom viewing at the parks, bringing along bento boxes for their picnics there. Special Hanami bento boxes, whose replica is displayed on the exhibition, are definitely not easy to make but we get to learn some basic tips and tricks here. 

Also at the GALLERY, we are treated with Mio Sparkling Sake (5% alcohol), and Hana Kizakura Sake (12% alcohol) which is made of flower yeast extracted from yellow cherry blossom. Aren't they the perfect drinks during Hanami season?

The "THEATRE" - Special 4k Movie "The Four Seasons in Kyoto" Screening

The beauty of shifting seasons forms part of background on how Kyoto cuisine is developed. Here we can view the breathtaking scenery of the 4 seasons in Kyoto, all thanks to the high definition technology.


The "LOUNGE" - Live Cooking Demo and Food Tasting

Moving to the last part of the activity, which is the main highlight, we get to meet the well-known Chef Shogo Sasaki, the heir of the current 7th generation owner of Restaurant IZUU, a Kyoto sushi restaurant established since 1781 (Over 220 years of history!), and indulge in his authentic Kyoto-style dishes. How lucky we are! 

Live Presentation and Tasting by Chef Shogo Sasaki

One enjoyable Hanami activity is to eat delicious Japanese cuisine while gazing at the cherry blossoms., so Chef Sasaki is here with us to prepare two of his signature dishes for our enjoyment-.

The making of Saba-sugatazushi - Whole Mackerel Lightly Matured Sushi

Chef Sasaki's No. 1 specialty is the Mackerel Sushi, in which he preserves the tradition of his forefathers and adds significant touches of Japanese flavours and culture into this dish. In Kyoto, only 2 restaurants are famous for the traditional mackerel sushi and IZUU is one of them. 

The key of Saba-sugatazushi is the fish itself. The mackerel is marinated overnight with salt and vinegar, and then combined with vinegared sushi rice and wrapped kelp (konbu) to bring out the best flavour of mackerel.

The result? This Saba-sugatazushi tastes light and delicate when freshly made. But when it is left for several hours, the kelp helps mature the flavour, creating a stronger taste in the sushi. In case you are wondering, this sushi can be kept for 3 days. 

And each roll of IZUU Mackerel Sushi is usually sold at 4,500JPY (RM180), a premium price in Kyoto (portion sufficient for two)!

The making of Chirashizushi - Scattered Topping Sushi

The next dish is the colorful dish, ideal for Hanami celebration. This Chirashizushi is very different from the usual Chirashi Don I have in KL. Here's the simple recipe I learn from Chef throughout the demo:

Step 1: Mix finely-chopped shiitake mushroom into the bowl of sushi rice to create an "earthy" flavoured base.
Step 2: Season the rice with seaweed flakes.
Step 3: Top the rice with shredded omelette (Kinshi egg).
Step 4: Add seafood topping - Prawn, squid and sea bream.
Step 5: Decorate the bowl to add colors.
Step 6: Voila! Now we are done with this beautiful dish served during festivals.

Taking a closer look at the Chirashizushi,I'm totally blown by this lovely combination. The taste is light but combines very well together. Love this simple bowl of comfort food! 

Sakuramochi and Green Tea

What's better than having a Sakuramochi as dessert during Cherry Blossom festival? Wrapped in a pickled cherry blossom leaf, this Japanese sweet pink-colored rice cake is generously filled with red bean paste in the center. So yummy and not too sweet for my liking!

Moving forward, in February and March 2017, the other 3 young owner chefs of famous Japanese restaurants from Kyoto will come to KL to showcase their own unique menu of Japanese traditional cuisine. Grab a ticket before you miss the chance! 

Date: 18 Feb (Sat) and 19 Feb (Sun) 2017
Chef Nobuyuki Tanaka from Truruse, the 4th generation owner of
a luxurious restaurant and inn established since 1932.

Date: 4 March (Sat) and 5 March (Sun) 2017
Chef Hideki Shimoguchi from Chikurin in the Uji area of Japan,
famous for its matcha green tea and hojicha tea.

Date: 18 March (Sat) and 19 March (Sun) 2017
Chef Takuji Takahashi from Kinobu, specializing in bento boxes
and discovering new Kyoto cuisine including wine pairings. 

There will be 3 sessions a day:
1st Session: 12pm - 1.30pm / 2nd Session: 3pm - 4.30pm / 3rd Session: 6pm - 7.30pm
*Tickets are available for up to 25 guests per session 
*First-come, first-served basis
*Doors open 30 minutes before starting time

Ticket Price: RM100 Nett (including exhibition admission)
*Children below 13 years old must be accompanied by an adult

FLAVOUR OF HANAMI
Event period: 21 January - 25 March 2017
Event hours: 11am - 8.30pm daily
Ticket purchase: +603-2382 7777
Online ticketing: bit.ly/flavourofhanami 

Venue and ticketing office:
The Cube, 3rd Floor,
ISETAN The Japan Store Kuala Lumpur,
50, Jalan Sultan Ismail,
50250 Kuala Lumpur.

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