Exact art: When I graduated from Institute of Hotel Management, Catering and Nutrition (IHM), Pusa Road, New Delhi, in 2002, I was lucky to land a job in the kitchen of the Capital’s Metropolitan Hotel. This was when it was part of Nikko Hotels from Japan, and the chef I trained under was also Japanese. I spent four and a half years learning the nuances of Japanese cuisine from him and, in the process, fell in love with it. I especially love making sushi, an art which requires incredible precision. Most people think that rolling sushi is the hard part, but that’s actually easy. It’s the cutting of the fish which is the hard part, because every fish needs to be cut in a different way as the ligaments go in different directions. You have to have a very sharp knife for precise cutting; in fact, the knife sharpening skills of a sushi chef are very important.
Fresh flavours: Sushi is a beautiful dish to look at, but more than that, what I appreciate about it is that it shows all the strengths of Japanese food: freshness of ingredients, precision of technique, simplicity of flavours and beauty of presentation. It is, in fact, one of the best ways of showcasing how the taste of even a single fish changes, depending on which part — belly, tail, head, back – you are using.
The best sushi I’ve ever had was at a century-old Tokyo restaurant called Kyubey. I grew up in a vegetarian home, and even though I do taste everything I make at my restaurant, I prefer to eat ghar ka khaana. But when the chef at Kyubey put 50 pieces of sushi before me, I ate them all. It was that good.
Nitin Bharadwaj is Head Chef, Kampai, New Delhi
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