The certification program of Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Stores Overseas
Interview of Suppoter Stores Autre Kyo Ya
Realizing sophisticated flavors by using high quality Japanese ingredients in hidden places
New York / USA
Cooking 'Japanese' with French techniques
A Japanese-style French restaurant is thriving in Manhattan's East Village neighborhood. This area is close to New York University and is a destination for countless young locals. It has an atmosphere that is similar to the side streets of Shibuya and Shimokitazawa in Tokyo, and since the 1970's has been renowned as a place with a high concentration of Japanese restaurants, ramen shops and grocery stores. Autre Kyo Ya opened in 2016 as a sister restaurant of authentic Japanese restaurant Kyo Ya, which is just as popular in the East Village. The concept at Autre Kyo Ya, however, is to make French cuisine with Japanese ingredients and techniques. Shuji Furukawa has served as the chef since the opening, and the chef has had a dazzling history of cultivating his skills at high-end restaurants in Tokyo and Paris. "It's fun because New York is much more receptive for new things than France," he said.
Japanese products are highly reliable
Compared to Paris, Chef Furukawa feels that it's easier to get a hold of Japanese ingredients in New York. For fish, amadai (Japanese tilefish) and uni (sea urchin) from Hokkaido (during their peak in the summer), and for beef, Wagyu is often used, but the biggest achievements of 'Made in Japan' are with seasonings and garnishes, rather than main ingredients. "Because Japanese ingredients have delicate elements, they tend not to collide with other ingredients and seasoning; I pay attention to the balance in order not to lose that. Since it is impossible to put Japanese flavor into every single cuisine, we only introduce it into key areas to make use of its character," says Chef Furukawa.
There are many customers who are attracted to "Japanese style", and it seems that they are very pleased at the time of service when they learn that Japanese ingredients and techniques are being utilized. This is not only happening in New York City, as throughout America, gourmet ambitions and food safety awareness run high; thus, providing information regarding where ingredients originate from is now common sense in high-end restaurants. On that point, publicizing the use of Japanese products on the storefront has influenced the evaluation of the restaurant. Looking at the most popular recipes of the menu, one can understand how effectively the restaurant uses Japanese ingredients.
Balancing French and Japanese
For example, for the Fluke Crudo, the main ingredient fluke is shallow-cooked for 2 to 3 hours in Hokkaido Kombu dashi. The same dashi is then mixed with ikura (salmon roe) that has been marinated in mirin and soy sauce (both made in Japan), as well as Japanese Myoga ginger to enhance sharpness. Finally treated with a lemon vinaigrette, scallions, and pulp from pomelo citrus, it is a refreshing summertime dish; but then the texture is enhanced with a scattering of Japanese wakame (seaweed) chips that have been lightly fried in oil. "In order to bring out the flavor of the fluke, and to contrast the acidity of the lemon and the edgy bitterness of Myoga, I use kakushi aji (hidden flavors) like kombu and other Japanese aromas in order to accent it," said Chef Furukawa.
In addition, in the dish simply named Octopus, the octopus is indeed the main character, but after simmering and softening it, it is smoked with wood chips from Japan. Then it is rested for one to two days in the simmering juices; when the order comes in, it is coated and fried in oil, then grilled afterwards. It is a very demanding dish to complete. Even a foam aside of the octopus is also elaborate. To match the taste of the smoked octopus, smoked soy sauce (from Nagano Prefecture) is added to browned butter, then stretched with Hokkaido Kombu dashi, and whisked together. "Although it is an original dish born through trial and error, it is based on the French way of thinking, and Japanese materials and techniques are used as a twist to maximize flavor."
Dream Japanese ingredient: Hyuganatsu citrus
In New York City, where the world's cutting edge cooking is happening, the walls between "Japanese food", "Chinese food" and "Western food" are now disappearing. For Chef Furukawa, who "would like people to enjoy this kind of cuisine without pressure or trying too hard", the Japanese ingredient he wishes to use in the future is "Hyuganatsu". This unusual fruit from Miyazaki Prefecture would be ideal on his dessert menu. "The thick white part of the rind is like a mandarin orange, which is very delicious. I'd like to use a flavor New Yorkers have never experienced, and introduce it in a way no one else can," said Chef Furukawa. The future is indeed something to look forward to.