- Photography: Darryl Wee
- Photography: Darryl Wee
Kagawa 箸で食べる「グローカル」フレンチ、五風十雨Darryl Wee, 2010/09/13
“Glocal” French with Chopsticks
Traditional Japanese food has an understanding of seasonal consumption and locality that resembles the French tradition of terroir. In a country whose own vernacular cuisine contains numerous (mis)interpretations of “Western” food, however – breaded tonkatsu pork cutlets as a Japanese version of Wiener schnitzel, for instance – the question of what is properly native to specific regions of Japan is open to much debate.
In recent years, while top French chefs in New York or Hong Kong incorporate Japanese ingredients into their cooking, producing millefeuilles flavored with matcha green tea, or fish and meat entrées fragranced with yuzu citrus, some Japanese restaurant kitchens seem to have devoted themselves to a different form of culinary glocality, if you will. Instead of relying on costly foreign imports to rustle up novel permutations of familiar dishes, why not just use the local bounty in preparations inspired by foreign cuisines? In this variation of “globalized” food, only the mind travels – perhaps aided by a well-thumbed, far-flown cookbook – not the chilled, air-freighted ingredients.
This is one trick that skilled Japanese chefs often pull off with great success: the production of pitch-perfect foreign dishes using only local or domestic produce. On the way back from the inaugural Setouchi Art Festival in Kagawa prefecture earlier this summer, we passed through the prefectural capital of Takamatsu, and were recommended lunch at a renovated rice warehouse standing in the middle of a flock of rice fields a twenty minute drive from Busshozan – a quiet suburb known for its sleek hot spring complex that won a Good Design Award in 2007. The restaurant serves “French cuisine eaten with chopsticks”, and its name, “Gofuu Juu-u”, is apparently a climatic reference to ideal crop-growing conditions – may there be wind once every five days, rain once every ten.
There is only one prix fixe menu at lunch, a positive bargain at ¥1500 (US$18). First, a small cup of chilled corn soup. Then a gorgeous salad of seared bonito from Kochi served with tomatoes and mountain yams in a balsamic vinegar sauce,. The main course was pan-roasted free-range Miyazaki chicken with an impeccably crusty skin in a grain mustard sauce, garnished with grilled eringi mushrooms. Finally, a simple yoghurt sorbet with a lightly stewed white peach compote. Perfect.
Just in case you forgot you were in Japan, you will be asked if you would prefer a baguette or sticky rice to go with your meal. French with chopsticks, indeed.
Gofuu Juu-u, 3186 Nishi Ueda-cho, Takamatsu city, Kagawa prefecture, Japan (087-849-0510)