Monday, 1 August 2016

Rikuzentakata Fair at Ippin Café Bar

I have always had an avid interest in Japanese food and culture. Therefore, when I received the invitation to attend Rikuzentakata fair at Ippin Café Bar on 12 July, I accepted it without hesitation.

With the Mayor of the City of Rikuzentakata, Mr Futoshi Toba

Rikuzentakata fair is a one-day trade show, showcasing eleven different types of seafood, fresh produce and Sake, providing a platform for the city’s seafood, vegetables, rice and sake suppliers and buyers to meet face-to-face and network. 

At the dining table with the Mayor of the City of Rikuzentakata, Mr Futoshi Toba

The fair commenced with a welcome address by the Mayor of the City of Rikuzentakata, Mr Futoshi Toba and an introduction of the city. I was also delighted to meet up with Mr Kiyoshi Murakami, Senior Advisor to the City, Mr Satoshi Murakami, Assistant Director of the city, and Mr Takanori Obayashi from the planning department of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Section.

Exquisite Japanese food

This enriching fair was presented by Rikuzentakata city in Japan, which is surrounded by mountains with fisheries and clear waters. During the fair, we had the opportunity to savour fresh produce from the city such as rice, tomatoes, sea urchin clams, salmon egg roe and more. In addition, we also got to sample traditional Japanese creations prepared by Chef Matsuto Takanobu from Ishikawa, Japan and Asian fusion dishes executed by Eugenia Ong, Chef Director of Table at 7 and Karl Dobler, Executive Chef at Table at 7 (restaurant focusing on contemporary East meets West cuisine).

The authentic Japanese dishes crafted by Chef Matsuto Takanobu were healthy and tasty. I like the tomato sorbet  made of fresh tomatoes from Rikuzentakata city. It was cool, tangy and refreshing and helped to whet my appetite. Perfect to cool yourself down on a hot, summer day. The wakame (Japanese seaweed) soup was light, savoury and comforting to the soul. 

I also enjoyed the tomato and tofu miso dengaku which consisted of miso glazed tomatoes and cold tofu. The teriyaki hotate (scallop) with special sauce was delectable with a mix of sweet and savoury flavours, topped with yuzu pepper. I am not an ardent fan of clams but I must say that the ezoishikagegai clams were delicious. Skin was was deep-fried to crisp golden perfection while the interior was luscious and juicy. The urchin and ikura (salmon egg roe) was delightful and the ikura was fresh and bouncy with a sweet taste. It was not fishy unlike some others that I have tried.

The fusion dishes curated by Chef Director, Eugenia Ong and Executive Chef, Karl Dobler from Table at Table of 7 were equally interesting. 

The white balsamic Japanese sweet tomato and bocconcini with basil, cucumber and rocket was zesty and helped to perk me up. 

Tartare of iwate sea scallops with ikura and cucumber in shoyu truffle dressing

My favourite dish from Table of 7 was the tartare of iwate sea scallops with ikura and cucumber in shoyu truffle dressing. The ingredients were very fresh and you could taste the freshness and quality of ingredients with just one bite. The cucumber gave it a crunchy texture while the shoyu truffle dressing added a unique twist to the dish. 

Squid ink pasta in urchin and ikura

The squid ink pasta in urchin sauce and ikura was another standout dish. The pasta was al dente, retaining a firm bite and the urchin sauce and fresh ikura gave it remarkable depth of flavour.

With Mr Kiyoshi Murakami, Senior Advisor to the City of Rikuzentakata

(L-R), Mr Takanori Obayashi, Planning Department, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Section, Ms Hazel, Mr Satoshi Murakami, Assistant Director of Agriculture and Forestory Section, Mr Gabriel and me.

Overall, I enjoyed myself very much during the fair and I learned more about the food and culture of Rikutentaka City. It was very insightful and enriching. Thank you Hazel for the invite and Ippin Café Bar for hosting this event.

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