Is cooking an art or an expertise? If it is the latter, then one can become better at it by practice and experience; however, if it is the former, then no amount of practice and experience will not be sufficient because an art requires a stroke of ingenuity, does it not?
The Ambassador Program lunch started with a pouring of Sakura Emaki (桜絵巻), a sweet and fruity spring sake, made of black rice.
Sasami Ume Shiso – Breast with preserved plum and shiso
Tsukune – Chicken meat balls
*Imported from Hara Ryo-Kaku (原了郭), a renowned shinise (literally, an old store) in Kyoto since 1703.
Bonchiri – Chicken butt
Shishito – Japanese green peppers
Usually sandwiched between chicken thighs, the solo shishito was brushed with tare. The combination of tangy tare and the fire from the peppers would have been nice, had the peppers not been drowned and drenched in sauce. Since my fear had now been confirmed, I requested the chef to proceed lightly from then on with the salt and sauce.
Kashiwa – A combination of chicken thighs and breast
**Usually the bigger and thicker variety called Tokyo negi.
Ginko nuts have a thin skin underneath the shell. The chef first grilled the nuts briefly to remove the skin then grilled again with salt. This West-Coast variety was more elongated than the Japanese one and more watery; thus, the typical bitter savor was missing.
The liver was grilled to perfection – light and melting – while the sweet tare complemented the delicacy of the liver. The combination of bitter char, caramelized tare and the creamy foie called for a second and a third round.
Sunagimo – Gizzard
Teba – Chicken wing
As a general rule, the more bones, the more tender the flesh: The wing is a part to which this rule applies. Simply salted, the fatty skin sealed in the moisture of the already tender meat. As an additional bonus, the bone with the charred skin and ligaments had a deep satisfying flavor.
Harami – Diaphragm
A rare treat, the chewy diaphragm tasted somehow fattier than it should be.