Japanese restaurants emphasise fresh produce in eye-catching desserts

Stephanie Ip

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 June, 2015, 10:29pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 June, 2015, 10:38pm

Think of Japanese cuisine, and all the sushi, tempura, wagashi and kakigori that come to mind have one thing in common: they always use the freshest seasonal produce and, most importantly, are always beautifully presented.

The humble dorayaki gets a makeover under the watchful eye of Mandy Fung, teppanyaki chef supervisor at Akita Teppanyaki. A pancake-like confection typically filled with sweetened red bean paste, dorayaki is readily found on the streets of Japan and enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. But now, Fung has upgraded the street snack and taken it to the teppanyaki grill.

The dessert is a treat for the eyes as well as the mouth. "[The dessert] is prepared right on top of our teppanyaki grill and in front of our customers," says Fung, who has over 14 years of experience as a teppanyaki chef. The pancakes are cooked on the grill, then sandwiched together with home-made strawberry jam before Fung puts the finishing touches onto the dessert: fresh blueberries and real gold flakes for an extra wow factor.

Fung believes the eye-catching presentation and the attention to detail that "Japanese dishes are so famous for" make a satisfying end to the restaurant's teppanyaki feast.

For chef Mitsuru Konishi, who discovered his passion for cooking at the age of 18, French cuisine was his calling. Konishi has worked at several Michelin-starred restaurants, and was the first Japanese sous chef at the famous Taillevent in Paris.

He has not forgotten his roots, and at Wagyu Takumi, where Konishi is now the executive chef, diners can enjoy creative French cuisine with a Japanese twist. "Our menu celebrates seasonally driven ingredients, [and] peach is in season in Japan during summer," he says.

Combining the best of French-style cooking and Japanese ingredients, the result is a light summer dessert of poached Japanese peaches, crème d'Angers and shiso ice cream.

"The taste of the ingredient and the beautiful plating overall matches the season," Konishi says. The refreshing combination, he adds, is best enjoyed in the summer.