After travelling to several countries like New Zealand, Macedonia, Hungary and Lebanon — Japanese Cultural Envoy and chef Keigo Tamura made a stopover in Dubai and took time off to interact with the students of the International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA) on Tuesday.
Around 20 aspiring cooks witnessed first-hand chef Tamura prepare soba noodles and green tea at their premises in Knowledge Village.
Tamura, the owner of Kyoto restaurant Manshige, highlighted Japanese food and the essence of sticking to simple and healthy ingredients during his workshop.
Tamura stressed on the need to use less salt, pepper and sauces while preparing his dishes.
“We use little, or almost, no animal fat. Also, we respect every essence of our homegrown products. Therefore, we do not use too much salt, pepper or sauces in our food, yet we stress on taste.
“We try and keep the taste original because we focus on health issues.
Tamura described how a typical meal is composed of a series of complementary side dishes prepared on a seasonal basis, and almost always includes rice, pickled vegetables and soup.
Akima Umezawa, Consul-General of Japan, speaking on the sidelines of the event said he was all too happy to talk about Japanese food and its culture.
“Our aim is to promote Japanese food and culture in the UAE. We would like people from different nationalities to experience it.
“We get a lot of foreign tourists visiting our restaurants in the UAE and always our top purpose is the enjoyment — and that is food,” he said.
“Which means Japan has a very good and rich culture for food. We like to highlight our cuisine, the way the Japanese speak, our culture, so that’s why we want to enhance Japanese cuisine,” he added proudly.
So what is their clientele like?
“Indians have a massive population here so we do get many Indians visiting our restaurants and next is the GCC nationals.
“Although Sushi is one of the favorites among our customers most also like Kobe beef and Japanese tea.
Unlike the Chinese who try to cater to the Indian palate by making their dishes a bit spicier, Mr Akima said the Japanese are more traditional.
Japanese food typically favors subtler flavors like dashi, a broth base made from kelp and fish stock.
“We do not like to experiment. We do respect different nationalities but we would like to keep it simple and yet tasty.