Robbie Swinnerton writes about Vegetables given pride of place in upmarket kaiseki cuisine (Tokyo Food File, Japan Times, April 16).
He describes Yasai Kaiseki Nagamine in Ginza this way:
"The idea is simple but profound. Japan's traditional multicourse cuisine has always been based on the bounty of the vegetable kingdom. Increasingly, though, kaiseki meals have become loaded up with meat and seafood, with vegetables, herbs and mushrooms treated as mere seasonal accents. Nagamine winds the clock back, but in contemporary style."
Lukas Kratochvil praised the restaurant as well in Japanese kaiseki vegetarian restaurant in Tokyo (Japan Visitor). Here's an excerpt:
"We started with a trio of appetizers where the stand-out dish consisted of sesame tofu, wasabi, soy sauce and sweet azuki beans. The flavour of the panacotta-textured tofu harmonized beautifully with the beans and wasabi. The first real highlight followed: a wonderful winter warmer of pureed Nagano turnip soup with a solitary ball of mochi (rice flower dumpling). Japanese turnips are outstanding and the soup alone was worth the visit.
Next up, a medley of Kagoshima bamboo shoots, Kyoto carrot, Chinese yam from Aomori and miso with soy sauce. Do you remember as a child visiting a farm in the countryside and trying the fresh, chemically unadulterated vegetables? I had forgotten that vegetables could taste this good."
Robbie Swinnerton's conclusion for Japan Times piece is pitch perfect for Earth Day 2010:
"We all know the oceans are being over-fished and there's not enough land for everyone on the planet to eat vast amounts of meat. The only way forward is surely to look back to the past. Japan's vegetable-centric traditional cuisine, with its elegance and subtlety, offers a viable model for the future."
Celebrating healthy and sustainable eating habits for Tokyo Thursdays #136
(Our illustration comes from Gournavi, Gourmet Navigator Online Guide to Restaurants in Japan)