November 6, 2018

For three nights Nov 3, 4 and 5, we enjoyed an evening of making some Umeshu to take home and taste tested 11 different kinds of Umeshu.

Just as a bit of fun, I had the 28 participants vote for their 3 top picks in order.  So the results are…

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Notes for Sake Seminar

September 10, 2018

Memo for the recent sake seminar event. You are welcome to use this however would appreciate if you would credit me appropriately.

Sake List 28 Oct 2018

Sake Tasting Seminar 28Oct2018

Grown @ South Brisbane

July 26, 2018

Those who know me, will know I am no means a vegan. I love meat, the style of ramen I create centers around meat. I event take the self claimed role as ambassador for Bangalow Sweetpork.

So I had heard good things about this little vegan diner and I was genuinely interested but instinctively not overly obsessed with getting there in a hurry. Plus I had actually missed a few attempts just purely due to lack of investigation rocking up on Mondays and Tuesdays when they are closed.

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Plastic Bag Ban

June 18, 2018

Frankly speaking, take away of ramen is not recommended. The noodles are best al dente and the soup is best hot. The magic is lost by the second. So everytime a ramen is taken away, I cry a little inside…

But ideals aside, people have a lot of valid needs and requirements to take our food away. So we always respect and cater for this.

To cater takeaway and to also try to do our share for the environment, we are already using some bio-plastic containers in our venues and we are also getting ready for the Single Use Plastic Bag Ban from July 1.

So, in come the idea of custom printed paper bag project!

Where possible, sourcing local is our policy. Got our paper bags from @ Archerfield. They have a wide range of all sorts of bags and at a sharp price and unbelievable service! We can’t afford custom printing so I had an idea.

Got my custom made stamp at @ New Farm. Came out nice!

The bags are more sturdy compared to plastic and will keep the containers upright so that’s a plus but I just hope the soup doesn’t spill inside. For this risk, we are only able to use plastic containers for the time being.

*Bio-plastic can’t handle the heat and paper or plant fibre containers can’t form a water tight hold. If anyone has a good solution on takeaway solution for hot soupy stuff, please let me know.

Ku-O at Gabba

May 22, 2018

At first I came here on the recommendation of my regular customers and was surprised to find much more than a familiar face.

Actually story goes back to 2004.

Back then, we had the luxury of eating out wherever we pleased and actually enjoying the night (now we have to feed three more hungry and loud mouths). I was a young coal trader from Tokyo enjoying expat life in the Teneriffe woolstore apartments. There was a Spanish restaurant called Miro’s just down the road run by Jose and I used to frequent it. It was a lovely institution and was probably a positive factor in me opening up a restaurant. The sight of Jose and his team having a proper dinner after service seemed like perfect happiness.

Anyway, there was a middle aged German couple that was always there, even more than us and they would lay out about 6 bottles of wine on the table, drink about 4 of them and start lighting a cigar as the other patrons left. On many of those nights, he had Nami san at the table helping empty the 4th bottle. We naturally introduced each other and talked a little, back then, I think Nami san was the sushi chef at a Japanese restaurant in Toowong. The German gentleman spoke highly of Nami San’s sushi skills but having just come from Tokyo, I was preoccupied discovering various cuisines not available in Japan so I never got around to visiting Nami sans shop. I thought I will one day but those fond days quickly changed with the arrival of our child and the eventual closure of Miro’s.

Fast forward to 2018. I am now a Ramen chef in Brisbane and having been here for 14 years now, and with 3 hungry roudy kids, we are always looking for reasonable family friendly venue serving comforting Japanese food. All these years I knew of Ku-O in Sunnybank but I usually went to Sunnybank for Chinese and not Japanese. Anyhow, I wasn’t interested in their Ku-O Woolongabba shop in the beginning, same owners, same quality was my prejudgement. But I kept on getting recommendations from multiple customers including a foodie family and Japanese expats who knew their sashimi.

So I finally decided to pay them a visit a couple months ago and was pleasantly surprised to find Nami San, with his strong passion at the sushi counter. Expectation was completely exceeded, I must say I don’t know of a better way to spend $36 than the Large Sashimi platter expertly prepared by Nami San. It takes energy and passion to stock and prepare this much variety of fresh fish. Just look at any other Japanese restaurant. They usually only stock Salmon and Tuna, maybe kingfish and Nz snapper if lucky, plus frozen Prawns and frozen cuttlefish. Nami san always has far greater variety, all fresh mainly local.

And the value! Feeding my family of 5 is usually a bank breaking task but Ku-O is so generous and well priced we just find ourselves coming back again and again. Of our countless visits, guess what’s the one thing we always order, Large Sashimi Platter, cut thin. Nami san is happy to cater to requests like this. And for a mere $36, he wows us with the best fish of the season and his skills. Sometimes it might be the springy grouper or the freshest garfish or maybe the local squid with countless hidden knife incisions so the texture is just perfect.

I like the fact we can just walk in on most days so being greedy I am a bit reluctant to tell people about this gem but I hope Nami San gets the recognition and business he deserves.

地産地消・Food Tourism

May 6, 2018

The latest food trend is super local food tourism. Led by Chefs like Rene Redzepi of Noma and Ana Ros of the Hiša Franko.

I have never talked with Rene or Ana nor dined at neither of these establishments so I can only talk with my perception of what information there is in the media and with second or third hand information about Brisbane Chefs that have worked at Noma, so some might rightfully be appalled for me to compare or even talk about my humble ramen shop in the same page as these super stars but I wanted to talk about it. Honestly, I think what they are doing is great and I love their passion and it is inspiring but I don’t envy them or idolize them at all. I know what my concept is and I think we are on the same plane in the context of providing a delicious food experience, but we are on the opposite sides of the spectrum.

Noma and Hisa Franko, they strictly stick to super local produce and forage for the ingredients themselves. Of course ingredients are fresh and by foraging, they are able to embrace the wild flavours sometimes unavailable in commercial or domesticated farmed ingredients. Chefs know the ingredients deeply so it is super traceable. The down side is, as a customer, you are paying for Rene and his superstar chef team to forage wild ingredients. This is super inefficient, so uneconomical and basically goes against why man planted a seed in the beginning to start farming. Of course the food mile on the plate is super low but to dine at Noma and Hisa Franko, customers are travelling super long miles to get to that table and forking out a fortune for the meals. Of course this is all good and I would love to dine at these restaurants once in my life and that is what it is, an once in a life experience to travel and immerse yourself in what the local land and sea has to offer, presented by the experts of the land, through a culinary experience.

The reason why I fell in love with ramen is because it was so delicious and affordable at the same time. It’s made with bones that would have been thrown away and have no prime value and the plating is so systematic you don’t need Academy trained Chefs or silverware, linens, back office staff to take reservations or in the case of Japan, cashiers even. You cue up in the line, once inside, put your money in the ticket machine, wait for the cooks to assemble the soup, toppings, noodles in a few minutes, eat, clean your bench, and leave, vacating the seat for the diner behind you. Easy it is, but delicious it is… That soup has been meticulously calculated and perfected time and time during the history of the shop or maybe even longer when you consider the added history of any mentors the shop owner might have had. The charsiu has been boiled and marinated to perfection, the egg has been intricately prepared, all the hours of hard work, condensed into the single bowl and yet, due to the simplified process and efficiencies you can enjoy it for less than your hourly wage. You can afford to enjoy it every day if you wanted to.

We don’t forage but I also believe in local produce like local shallots, sprouts, organic eggs, where possible and where it is important. The freshness is great and often irreplaceable. but in some instances, we use frozen produce like Edamame. Pork, my good friend jolly Pat drives it up from Bangalow weekly so my hundreds of customers don’t have to travel 300km. Well it’s a balancing game. I like to make my own noodles using locally milled unbleached flour with our small noodle making machine and that is less efficient compared to purchasing large scale factory made noodles. So I think, to my customers, just as Rene is to his customers, I am being a trusted expert to be the guide to combine various quality ingredients and passion to produce an experience but in my case, we factor in economy so that I can provide an every day food experience. The dollar value of this everyday experience is of course a fraction of the price of a meal at Noma and so I am able to offer this to more people on more occasions. So it gives me great satisfaction in providing so many local Brisbane people with an authentic delicious but everyday food experience. And the accessibility and repetition creates a relationship. During the 8 years of serving ramen to Brisbane, I have seen babies born, kids grow up, and even a few regulars pass away. I feel a strong connection with my customers and when I see a top haute cuisine chef talking on the media or receiving an award with their proud expressions, I somehow feel happier than them and reinforce my belief in keeping at what I do.

Free Home-made Takana Tasting July 10-12 Dinner only at Queen

July 6, 2017

MSG free all natural handmade takana (pickled mustard leaves).  

At the moment, for our popular free condiment takana, we are using imported Chinese takana pickles containing MSG.  I am not happy about it but it is immensely popular and there is no denying the good match with our tonkotsu soup.  

Brisbane’s climate is very similar to Kyushu, the home of takana pickles in Japan and apparently autumn is the season for mustard leaves.  Coming across some fresh mustard leaves at the Inala markets, I just made one batch to see if I can make it on my own.   

It was a long process. 

5/15 start process

Batch one 1700g 10% salt 170g

Batch two Baby mustard leaves 690g 6% salt 40g

5/25 Change water, wash resalt, turmeric, chilli.

6/1 Desalt entire batch.

6/2 Pickle in marinade 

7/2 Finish

As you can see, a process requiring time for lactic fermentation and pickling. 

The end result, i guess is ok for a first go.  Being all natural it is very very weak in umami compared to the current one but hoping it might be a step towards perhaps replacing it with a more natural alternative.  
I would like to invite people to come in and try it and let me know what you think.  It is merely a prototype so there is no charge but would appreciate your comments. The limit is one plate per person and first 10 customers per evening.  

—-From Facebook—-

Takanazuke Project. 

Kyushu (the home of the tonkotsu ramen) and Brisbane have similar climates. Means similar produce. I came across these fresh looking mustard leaves in Inala. Takanazuke is pickled mustard leaves. A really good tasting and popular free condiment to our tonkotsu ramen. Popularly made in parts of Japan and China by pickling and fermenting the mustard leaves. 
It’s no secret that we currently import our takana from China and though it tastes good it contains MSG and additives. My ramen is MSG free so ideally I would like to have my condiments also MSG free. I have considered Japan sourced options as well but haven’t been able to find a naturally made product that is also an economically suitable and good tasting. So, let’s see if I can do it myself!  
We probably can’t change this complimentary component straight to 100% homemade at a business like ours with a relatively mid low price point but first up, see if I can actually make a good tasting takanazuke and think from there. Always fun to think of new yummy stuff!