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Japan on your platter

| | in Sunday Pioneer
Japan on your platter

Michelin Japanese Masterchef Hiroshi Kagata at Threesixtyone The Oberoi, Gurgaon, talks about his culinary journey, who inspired him and how he unwinds at the end of the day

Tell us your journey to winning the much coveted Michelin Star?

The path towards learning traditional Japanese cuisine has been challenging however, a journey that I can sum up as rewarding. I began with learning everything from scratch. My interest in cooking developed after I joined culinary college. My mentors taught me two very important aspects of Japanese cuisine. I then studied all through my professional years, by attending classes during the day and working at restaurants in the evening. In 2016 the Michelin Guide Hong Kong Macau recognised my work at the restaurant Mizumi, making it one of the first Michelin-starred Japanese restaurants in Macau.

What can the guests expect when they dine at Threesixtyone?

I aim to bring Traditional Japanese cuisine. A Michelin Star translates into traditional style, high quality ingredients, state-of-the-art equipment and most importantly high quality food. I vividly remember Vikram Oberoi, MD and CEO passionately telling me that our guests value ‘traditional and authentic Japanese food’ when they dine with us. My signature dishes are sushi, sashimi and tempura. I hope to make each meal a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

What were your favourite childhood food memories?

I grew up in Tottori prefecture, located in the central part of Japanese archipelago. There are beautiful mountains to the south and the sea of Japan to the north.  Thanks to its location, people have easy access to fresh ingredients both from the mountains and the sea. I always looked forward to my mother’s tempura and barazushi (celebration sushi), an integral part of all our family celebrations. Cooking was her passion, so handmade anything from miso to plum wine.

Can you share a family tradition related to food?

Shogatsu or the Japanese New Year is an exciting and important time for us. Osechi a traditional Japanese preparation is made. My mother took almost a week to prepare all the Osechi celebration dishes. On the New Year day, all of the family got together to celebrate with Japanese sake, Ozoni (miso soup with Mochi) and  Osechi dishes, and then go to the temple or shrine nearby to pray for good wishes for the year.

Who inspired you and what does food mean to you?

My mentor at the culinary academy made me understand the dedication required for the path I had chosen. I have three master chefs inspired me at my early stage of my career, one from Nishijin Kyoto teaching me the basic skills of traditional Japanese, another from Gion Kyoto teaching me Kaiseki, and the other from Tokyo teaching me the Edo cuisine. For me cuisine is ever evolving and one must always keep learning.

Which ingredient is most critical to a cuisine.

Japanese food is soul food. Simple yet crucial ingredients like the quality of rice, bonito flakes and konbu seaweed are important to create distinct flavours symbolic to the cuisine. 

How do you unwind?

Spending time with my family and indulging in homemade food is priceless for me. My favourite dishes include handmade soba noodles and nigri sushi.

 
 
 
 
 

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