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âTaste of Japanâ at Conrad Manila until today
Wagyu beef

‘Taste of Japan’ at Conrad Manila until today

Tanya T. Lara (The Philippine Star) - September 23, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — He doesn’t look a day over 30, but Hilton Tokyo head chef of Junisoh restaurant Genta Aoyagi has a lot of experience in surprising diners and creating lovely compositions on his plates (he’s 40 years old, by the way).

Chef Aoyagi’s flavors are subtle and refreshing, preferring the natural taste of food rather than adding flavors to what is already complete. In a way, this may be the perfect treatment to a kaiseki meal (multi-course and small portions from the origin of the word, which means “bosom-pocket stones” that Zen monks used to warm and fold into their robes to ward off hunger). 

Tuna crusted with rice crackers at Taste of Japan in Conrad Manila

Delight the palate with his kitchen’s subtle flavors was what Aoyagi he did at Conrad Manila Brasserie on 3’s five-day special festival called Taste of Japan, which is ongoing until today, Sept. 23.

With his assistant Michihiro Mishima, Hilton Tokyo assistant director of food and beverage, they created a kaiseki set menu with all the ingredients sourced locally — from next door, in fact, at SM Hypermarket.

Ihoko Haneda, wife of Japanese Ambassador Koji Haneda; chef Genta Aoyagi, Japanese head chef, Hilton Tokyo; Elizabeth Sy, president of SM Hotels and Conventions Corp.; and Peggy Angeles, EVP of SM Hotels and Conventions Corp.

Aoyagi and his chefs at Hilton Tokyo’s Junisoh restaurant are constantly engineering new and innovative dishes that convey the nuances of each of Japan’s distinctive natural offerings.

His combination of historical and contemporary style has earned for him awards in Japan. He is the Tokyo Governor winner of the 2015 National Japanese Cuisine Competition, and the National Japanese Culinary Arts Championship in 2016 and 2017. In 2018, he was officially certified as a professional Japanese culinary cuisine chef, an honor that takes years of excellent experience to achieve. Aoyagi is also one of the pioneers of integrating sustainable rice grain into the Junisoh menu, joining the cultivation and harvest in the rice fields for the Junisoh Rice Project.

Torched squid

The multi-course meal at Brasserie on 3 started with torched squid with grilled eggplant and seaweed jelly with Kuromatsu Hakushika and Honjyozo, a preview of the subtle tastes coming from chef Aoyagi’s kitchen. He followed this with a sashimi rainbow of tuna, salmon and amberjack. The third course was crusted tuna with homemade rice crackers instead of sesame seeds. Then a surprise dish came out, which turned out to be my favorite — a steamed egg custard with shrinp, ginko, mushroom and dashi sauce. The chef’s Wagyu beef was perfectly grilled with shisho or Japanese basil on top. Dessert was macha pudding with mascarpone and red bean paste.

Chef Genta Aoyagi puts together his kaiseki menu at Conrad Manila.

Conrad Manila GM Laurent Boisdron said, “We are delighted to host Hilton Tokyo’s chef Aoyagi, who is joined by assistant director of food and beverage, Michihiro Mishima, as we indulge our guests to a culinary exploration of the shores of the Far East.  As a popular and well-respected chef in Tokyo, we are confident that he will take Manila’s Japanese cuisine connoisseurs to an outstanding level of satisfaction.”

Sake for each kaiseki course

Executive chef Daniel Patterson of Conrad Manila added: “With dishes known for its freshness, rich umami taste and artistic presentation, this exchange of recipes, culture and tradition between Tokyo and Manila embodies Conrad Manila’s commitment in providing our guests with an innovative world of style.”

Refreshing sakura drink

 *   *   *

Visit the author’s blog at www.findingmyway.net. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @iamtanyalara.

Brasserie’s buffet is priced at P1,400+ per person for lunch and P1,900+ for dinner, with the Chef’s Table Special Dinner Set Menu at P3,800+. For inquiries or reservations, call 683-3990 or email conradmanila@conradhotels.com. Follow Conrad at facebook.com/ConradManilaPhinstagram.com/ConradManila.

CONRAD MANILA GENTA AOYAGI JAPANESE CUISINE KOJI HANEDA
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