Executive chef Atsushi Yoshida, 37, recently joined Kirala Kitchen, a Japanese restaurant in Causeway Bay, from the one-Michelin-star Umu in London, where he was head chef for three years. He was noted there for incorporating European elements into a traditional multi-course kaiseki menu, and is developing new dishes to take advantage of the broad range of jet-fresh ingredients available here. Why did you decide to become a chef? My father is a chef in Japan. While I was in high school, my grandfather got a serious illness, and the doctors said he would die that day or the next. We moved him to the hospital, and my father made some dishes. My grandfather couldn't eat, but he managed to drink some lobster soup, and after that he started to recover. He got his health back, and I was very impressed. Right then I decided that I, too, wanted to be a chef. I was 17. How did you start out in the profession? After I graduated from high school, I went to Kyoto, where I worked for more than 12 years, then I worked for four years in Tokyo. After that I moved to London. In Tokyo, I was a sous-chef at a restaurant in Roppongi Hills [Roppongi Hills Club] that ran in co-operation with Hyatt Hotels. While I was there, I went to Singapore and also to Beijing for two-week visits as a guest chef, and I became interested in the different ingredients that were available and the different techniques the chefs were using. I wanted to discover more and realised in order to do that I would have to go outside Japan. Then I got the offer from London. What was interesting about that experience? I enjoyed London and I learned a lot. Very good fish is available in Britain, and vegetables, too, and there is easy access to ingredients from France. We used to serve a lot of game - wild boar, venison, pigeon and duck. That is all quite alien to Japanese cuisine. In London, we couldn't get many fish from Japan. Sea bass is very good - better than in Japan - and there is very good red mullet and turbot, and I'm still using those here. Why did you decide to move to Hong Kong? I like Chinese food. I learned about it in Chinese restaurants in Tokyo, and I decided I'd like to come to work here. In Hong Kong, you can get ingredients from Europe, America and Australia, as well as Asia, and I can use all of those. For example, at the moment, I'm using French quail, which is very tasty, with the breast grilled with a sauce made from wasabi, but it's kind of French. The leg is deep-fried and served with a dip, which is more Japanese. What do your Japanese customers make of using "foreign" ingredients? The clientele is 50/50 Japanese and Hong Kong people. I was worried about this menu and Japanese customers, but I've had a good response. In Japan I couldn't do this menu; people would complain. But in Hong Kong I can. Many places here do a traditional kaiseki menu; I want to do something different. You are also a sake sommelier. Is sake the best pairing for your kaiseki? I'm going to develop a sake tasting menu here. Hong Kong people seem to ask for only daiginjo sake, but there are many others with different flavours. I would serve daiginjo with appetisers and sashimi, but I would choose something with a stronger flavour for main courses.