Slicing and dicing giant tuna a cut above the rest for top chef

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 June, 2008, 12:00am

Everyone knows buying in bulk brings your costs down, so for its new fatty tuna menu at Unkai, the Sheraton Hotel's Japanese restaurant purchased an entire bluefin tuna fresh from Japan and flew in an experienced Japanese chef to slice and dice it down to bite sizes.

In front of guests and media, the 70kg bluefin - which cost more than HK$65,000 - was shipped directly in earlier in the day. Obviously, you don't let just any kitchen hack start stabbing at something so precious, so that's why experts (a master and his assistant) from the Tokyo Tsukiji market were invited to fillet the big toro into ingredients for sashimi, shabu shabu and yakitori.

'I have more than 25 years of experience as a chef cutting tuna,' Tanaka Kazuhiro (pictured, foreground) said. 'Years of experience is a prerequisite. You also have to have talent and the opportunity because there are hundreds of experienced chefs in the world who never get a chance like this.'

The bluefin is the largest and most prized of the species because it can't be farm raised. 'There are specific skills and steps in cutting a big tuna. First, we remove the viscera, wash the fish in water and allow blood to drain from the stomach. We then start from cutting off the head, and then the belly and the back.'

Of course, nothing goes to waste. But there is one item on Unkai's tuna promotion menu that might challenge the usual bento box crowd: stewed tuna eye with soya sauce, anyone?