If you’ve ever been to Japan around this time of the year, you know how utterly breathtaking full-bloom cherry blossom trees can be.
So much so they’re considered inspirational.
In fact, in Japan, there’s something called hanami, which literally means “flower viewing.” This is a custom where people spread out mats or open up chairs to literally sit and watch the beauty of these flowers. It often turns into a full-on party at some parks.
So it’s no surprise that these delicate, fragile sakura blossoms would inspire a menu, too.
Renowned Grand Chef Kenichiro Tanaka of the Imperial Hotel Tokyo will be presenting a one-night, sakura-themed dinner at La Mer at the posh Halekulani on Friday. The menu features a seven-course meal — plus canapes — that include dishes like paupiette of lobster mousse wrapped in cabbage, roast veal with honey and shoyu and a cherry flower sherbet on rice wine daiginjou granita. Tanaka will be using special ingredients imported from Japan, including cherry blossom paste and salt-cured cherry blossoms.
“When I left Japan, cherry blossoms were in full bloom,” Tanaka said through Mayumi Miyahara, a translator. “This season Japanese enjoy cherry blossoms. So I decided to offer it as part of the Halekulani dinner.”
He said his likes to create menus based on the seasons: “The seasons are very important and we should use fresh foods. We also have to consider what our guests want.”
And he knows people want locally sourced, seasonal food. Because he does, too.
“(While in Hawaii) I like to eat ahi poke and loco moco,” he said, listing his favorite restaurants as Side Street Inn and Nobu. “I went there yesterday.”
“A Taste of Imperial,” 6:30 p.m. Friday, La Mer at the Halekulani. Cost is $295 per person. (808) 923-2311.
Photo and video of Tanaka by Sisto Domingo.
Went on a trade mission to Tokyo a few years back and stayed at the Imperial Hotel. The food there was excellent but I must confess I had most meals out and around the town. The Imperial Hotel was at a discount thanks to the local Department of commerce presence. Japan was also encouraging travel at the time and offering a free flight inside Japan. I wound up using the half off Shinhanzen ticket to Kumamoto City. Had to change trains at Fukuoka. I would jump at the chance to dine at the Halekulani when Mr. Tanaka was there. The couple of dinners I had at the hotel were excellent.
Wow, this sounds like it will be a meal to remember. Welcome to Hawai`i, Chef.
This time of the year in Japan is beautiful with the cherry blossoms in full bloom, been there 3 years in a roll during this time of the year.
THREE TIMES IN A ROW?? Lucky you! I need to go back to Japan soon!