Taste of Japan is an international program developed and supported by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan. Last week, the local committee for Taste of Japan held the Honorary Awards 2015 for Silicon Valley, honoring a local chef whose commitment and demonstration of the use of Japanese ingredients bring international awareness to the cuisine. The recipient is Chef Toshio Sakuma of Sushiya in Palo Alto, and Kaygetsu in Menlo Park. His restaurant made Zagat’s Top 10 list for many years until its closing in 2011. As one of the first chefs to popularize kaiseki in the Bay Area, Chef Toshi and his wife and business partner Keiko have a strong hand in shaping the Japanese cuisine we enjoy in the Bay Area today.
I was honored to receive a press badge to cover this event at the beautiful and luxurious Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel in Menlo Park.
The very charming Consul General Jun Yamada introduced Chef Toshi.
From left to right:
Eric Montell – R&DE Stanford Dining
Chef Toshio Sakuma
Gwyneth Borden – Golden Gate Restaurant Association
Consul General Jun Yamada
Chef Peter Rudolph of the hotel’s restaurant Madera, which was a former two Michelin starred restaurant, cooked the fancy buffet dinner in conjunction with Chef Toshi.
The dining room was beautifully decorated with fresh flower centerpieces.
Cocktail hour started with glasses of bubbly and fruity prosecco.
Passed Hors d’oeuvres included fried nori with hamachi collar and yuzu zest. This was a really tasty bite with a nice balance of textures and flavors. Frying the nori is a nice touch.
My favorite bite were these fried steamboat oysters with lacto fermented okra and a cayenne sauce. The oyster batter tastes similar to chicken karaage batter.
All the special guests were mingling before the buffet dinner.
Stations were set up for each dish. Although it was buffet, each portion was served in its own plate, such as with this ceviche. It’s made with Kampachi and Hokkaido scallop with yuzu, dashi broth, cucumber, persimmon, watermelon radish, cilantro, and shiso – decorated with a dried pepper slice. This was excellent. The seafood was fresh and the vegetables were a unique medley.
This item ran out first. Fried yuba roll with smoked salmon mousse inside that was so tasty. On top is almond, trout roe, and jerusalem artichoke oil.
The kabura mushi had steamed Japanese turnip sauce on juicy sea bream filet in dashi broth, with wood ear mushroom and shrimp and uni on top.
A broth of matsutake tea, oak-grilled rugosa squash and pumpkin seeds was ladled on to mushroom and Miyazaki prefecture wagyu cubes. The wagyu was rich and soft. So good.
Madera is known for their signature dessert buffet. For this event, the items had a Japanese twist to them. Here are a few items.
Red Bean Matcha Parfait – the sponge cake is a matcha flavor
Starwberry short cake
Peach sake domes
Tea Forte set up
Twas a great event! I look forward to seeing what other Japanese ingredients will be showcased next year.