What do Volvic bottled water from France and water from Tokushima in Shikoku, Japan, have in common? According to Japanese chef Hirohisa Koyama the flavours areso similar that he uses Volvic whenever Tokushima water is unavailable. Koyama gave a lecture to a group of Hong Kong food writers visiting the Heisei Culinary School in Tokyo, of which he is president, before a kaiseki meal at his nearby restaurant, Basara (3/F Harumi Triton Square, Harumi 1-8-16, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan, tel: 81 03 5144 8282). The chef demonstrated the way he makes dashi, the basic Japanese broth made by simmering shaved katsuo-bushi (dried bonito) and kombu (dried sea kelp). Because the broth, which is made in a few seconds (unlike Chinese and French broths, which are made by simmering bones and vegetables for several hours) uses only water, dried bonito and sea kelp, the quality of each ingredient is essential. At Koyama's seven restaurants the bonito is shaved to order and tasted to determine how long it should be simmered; he says most places make the dashi in large quantities and re-heat it as needed. Koyama ships 60 litres of water from Tokushima every day to each of his restaurants in Tokyo and supplements the supply with Volvic. When he's doing guest-chef stints in France and other countries he depends solely on Volvic.
Your palate might not be as sensitive as Koyama's, but Volvic does make fine drinking. A 1.5 litre bottle sells for about $12 at ParknShop and Wellcome supermarkets.