The chain of restaurants Nadaman has been a concept in Japan for over 180 years. Its motto is a long-standing restaurant is always new, and after opening its first restaurant in 1830 in Osaka, has since developed into a chain serving traditional cuisine with a modern twist. Sazanka-so with its two Michelin stars is the flagship for the entire group. It is housed in the 400-year-old Japanese garden of the Hotel Otani in Tokyo, and is built in the traditional Sukiya architectural style. There are five different rooms, with one allocated to the tea ceremony and the cuisine is known as kaseiki: Japanese haute cuisine. The menu changes monthly and follows the tradition of getting optimal use from a season’s vegetables. By providing a more modern twist, Nadaman can fulfil the wishes of the nation’s changing tastes. The chefs use more herbs than in the past for example, and western techniques and materials are being combined more and more with Japanese traditions. It is not surprising that Rokusaburo Michiba, the famous celebrity chef on the popular TV series Iron Chef, wrote the introduction for Nadaman’s recipe book. He is of the opinion that ingredients have very few limitations. The multiple award-winning Masterchef Nobutoshi Kiura has been working with Nadaman since 1978 and is in charge of the kitchen at Sazanko-so. He explained to us why the number 5 is so important in Japanese cooking. It has to do with 5 elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water, which is why the Japanese often use 5 techniques, like cooking, steaming, baking, grilling and deep-frying. The same applies to 5 flavours: salt, sweet, spicy, sour and bitter. Masterchef Kiura, together with his chefs Hiroshi Sakimoto and Michihisa Kato, were happy to develop four veal dishes for us, each one for a different season.
A number of small dishes with vegetables and veal as the main ingredients were presented as spring. A typical symbol for the spring is sakura (cherry) blossom. This is cut out of paprika. The inclusion of lots of fresh herbs is also another symbol of spring. This dish consists of sushi made with veal tenderloin, cherry leaf, sushi rice and red wine, garnished with lily leaves. This is a variation on a typical spring dish called Sakuramochi, which is a cherry leaf filled with a rice patty that is then filled with sweet bean paste. There is also a rillette of veal rib with miso, mini peppers and crunchy rice, veal shoulder with tofu and white cod roe: this last dish being rolled in raw ham with sardine crackers with a thick black truffle sauce. There are also two dishes without veal: sea bream roe cooked in sweet soy sauce with broad beans and Japanese pepper corns, plus a crab with a dip made of Chrysanthemums and fried egg.
This dish is served in a frozen droplet of water. It is a refreshing illusion for a hot summer’s day, one that uses veal tenderloin that has been well roasted, and then cooled and trimmed of all the dark meat, so that only the pink meat remains. The meat is cut into very thin slices and served with a dressing of dashi, sesame paste, chilli oil and dark soy sauce. The whole dish is garnished with mizuna, cherry tomato, cucumber, purple onion and ginger.
Les feuilles intensément colorées et à peine accrochées à l’arbre surplombant un tas de feuilles tombées à l’automne sont la source d’inspiration de ce plat. L’effet visuel est renforcé par un panier à récolte en osier et quelques champignons sauvages. Le plat se compose de deux bouchées à base de veau. La première est un yuzu évidé et rempli de fines tranches de veau et de plusieurs variétés de champignons sauvages cuits dans une sauce au lait de soja. La deuxième est à base de longe de veau enduite de sauce sukyaki, grillée puis roulée avec des champignons matsutake. Cette roulade est farinée puis poêlée croquante et présentée avec une sauce au jaune d’oeuf. La planche en bois de cèdre sur lequel ce plat est servi apporte son effet fumé. On accompagne ce plat d’une carotte taillée en forme de feuille d’érable, de patate douce en forme de feuille de ginkgo et de noix de ginkgo aux épines de pin.
This stew with white soya milk symbolises a winter landscape. This stew is very popular and is a nutritious winter meal that the Japanese often eat at home. Small meatballs are made from veal rib and flavoured with miso, soy sauce and konbu. The meatballs are served with poached cubes of veal sweetbreads in a soup made with strong veal stock (using the shanks), thickened with fresh tofu and soya milk. The whole meal is finished with pieces of tofu, yellow chives, ponzu and white maitake mushrooms.