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Monday, April 8, 2013

MUGA Day#15: Osaka--Kahala

Kahala is #33 on the Pellegrino list of Best 50 Restaurants in Asia and has two Michelin Stars.  The chef is Yoshifumi Mori, who I asked, why Kahala, and he turned away without responding.  I later inquired and got the following story, which he would deny, I think.  Forty-one years ago, Mori spent his honeymoon in Hawaii.  No details.  Forty years ago, when he was all of 26, he opened a small steak restaurant at this very location, and called it Kahala.  Surely, he must have spent his honeymoon at the Kahala Hotel.

Anyway, I would never have found the restaurant if I did not catch a taxi.  It is in a back alley on the second floor with no obvious sign:


Here is my take.  He suffered through decades of running his business and somewhat recently decided to jack up his prices by a factor of ten and become famous.  He certainly succeeded.  Tetsuya of his restaurant in Sydney comes here.  While some call the cuisine kappo ryori, a cross between kaiseki and izakaya, I would term this international teppanyaki fusion food, although the only time that metal front is used is for the finale, a Kyushu beef.  He paints his own laquerware.  He is here showing an Okayama cheese:


The place only holds eight, so it's smaller than Jiro's.  I had an Osaka grape wine aperitif, glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Niigata sake and French Cabernet-Merlot.  The first course was an asparagus-hokkigai (red clam)-cheese dish:


Then an assortment of appetizers:


That white squarish thing at the middle bottom is made from one piece of mountain yam, peeled into an interconnecting chain.  Try doing that someday.

There was no menu, and I'd be guessing, so let me get on with the rest of the meal.  A curry puff pastry:


Cheese sushi:


I like to use my fingers when I eat, so that was convenient here.  Soba with Italian dried fish eggs (?):


At this point I asked how many more dishes were coming, and informed that the number was eight, I royally insulted the staff by from this point only consuming half of everything, and still got supersaturated.  But this was probably because I had not yet recovered from the after effects of Narisawa.  Next bamboo shoots from Osaka:


The abalone mushroom soup in a large half onion was superb, maybe the best of all:


A red pepper and paprika drink was served, and I found it nicely refreshing;


I'm sorry I didn't get his name, but the Sous Chef (above) was extremely helpful and showed me how to eat the various creations.  As for example, that beef below is like the nori for sushi, you place it on the outside and the wasabi and garlic inside:


They gave me three pieces, and I unfortunately ate all three, although I was really, really, stuffed.

Rice, peas and egg yolk with tsukemono (Japanese pickles) ended the food part:


The sweet lemon from Shizuoka was a nice tarty touch:


The primary dessert was a honey caramel sorbet:


While Mori changes the set once a month, here is a blogger with some general details.  What does not change is his milk tea with honey:


You see those colored things to the bottom right?  They are candy coated fennel, which enhances the taste of the tea.  He gave me a packet of this fennel, and another of sesame seeds:


The total bill was north of $300, but much cheaper than Jiro's.  Mori deserves his Pellegrino Top 50 rating and those two Michelin stars.  The creative cuisine, fine orchestration of the service and general ambiance will forever be memorable.  After all, this meal cost me less than one night at the Osaka St. Regis.

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