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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

FALL CIRCLE PACIFIC ADVENTURE: Day #22B--Hajime...Food from Planet Earth

For Yu-chan, the new Osaka whale shark, scroll down to the next posting.  Today, I have two entries, the second on Hajime, a French restaurant in Osaka.

Hajime Yoneda is a computer engineer from Kinki University, who, while tolerating his job, began taking cooking lessons, then moved to France to become an artist and chef.  He says:

I am interested in the balance, harmony, mystique and spirituality that exist in the universe.  After the Big Bang, the earth was born in the universe and life was born on earth. Human beings were born and evolved. People exist based on a miraculous balance. I feel the mystique of the universe in gastronomy.

Hajime ranks #42 on Pellagrino's Top 50.  In the past I could not dine here because a single customer was not admitted.  Plus, no photos could be taken.  However, perhaps they are opening up, for the St. Regis not only was able to obtain a reservation, but permission for me to take photos.  According to Pellagrino about Yoneda:

Stunning service and fabulous French food from a philosophical chef

The restaurant only holds 16 or so.  I ordered their 16 course special plus half-size portions of the accompanying nine wines.  Each course features some aspect of Nature.  The first, for example, was Forest, a consomm√©:

I could only take photos of three courses, for the chef wants diners to be surprised.  I should have told them that the odds of someone reading my blog coming here are nil.  The first wine was a white from Hokkaido using a German grape, Kerner, from Takizawa Winery.  The rest of the meal:

  • Life:  roe/flatfish/black olive
  • Rocky coast:  oyster/kelp/mussel/sea urchin/etc
  • River:  salmon/roe/miso/mango/sorrel
  • Planet Earth:  a large salad of perhaps a hundred vegetables on a giant plate:

Note that the wine is a New Zealand Reisling, and the winery is owned by a Japanese, Sato.  The next course came with a sake (Junmai Daiginjo from Kyoto)
  • Sea-flow:  gingko/peas/etc
  • Sea-relation:  scallop/uncured ham/quail's egg/day lily
  • Destruction and assimilation:  foie gras/pumpkin/et, which came with a 1998 Chateau d'Yquem

It's a shame I can't show you each dish, for the artistry was exquisite, better than DOM's Chef Atala, who also features natural products and the concept of sustainability.
  • Hope-dew:  a pine sherbert
  • Hope-sky:  a fabulous duck ensemble
  • Hope-Mother Earth:  an equally exceptional lamb with black garlic, etc
  • Harvest-ripen:  almond/persimmon
  • Harvest-aki michiru:  chestnut/pear
  • Love:  strawberry/raspberry
I should mention that also served were:
  • Clos de la Roche for the duck
  • Trevellon for the lamb
  • Nechi Watanabe Junmai Ginjo from Niigata
  • Rose d'un Jour, a sweet rose
Then, the final course:

Looks like a small cloud, but that is cotton candy to the left.  I couldn't finish this assortment.

This was no doubt my best meal on this trip, and possibly in the top three of my life.  I was able to photograph Chef Hajime at work in his kitchen:

Perhaps the highlight of the experience was Ai, who explained each rainfall, cloud formation, etc, evocative of the dishes:

As I was leaving, Chef Hajime came by to wish me goodbye:

The Chef and Ai then walked me out to my waiting taxi.  I can highly recommend Hajime in Osaka to my Chaine des Rotisseurs (a gastronomical society created in the year 1248--not a typo) epicureans.


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