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Japan’s celebrated ‘Ayu’ fish at TEN Japanese Fine Dining with Chef Chikara Yamada and Chef Hisashi Yamashita

Gifu prefecture of Japan held an exclusive 2-day only sampling of Japan’s highly celebrated ‘Ayu’ fish at TEN Japanese Fine Dining just last week.

Known for serving impeccable quality ingredients and meticulous food presentation, Ten Japanese Fine Dining Restaurant was the perfect location partner for this event. I was honored to be given a seat at the media lunch where over 2 hours I was served with dish after dish of exemplary quality ingredients prepared by the skilled chefs.

The 3 chefs responsible for our lunch was Chef Chikara Yamada and Chef Hisashi Yamashita, both who had flown in from Japan.
Last but not least is Chef Miyake, the chef of TEN Australia.

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Amuse bouche: Saury Fish Parfait with Sushi Rice Cracker, marinated Fromage Blanc with Saikyo Sweet Miso & Homemade Dried Mullet Rice.
To begin, our palate was teased with pairing of salty savoury and another of differing textures with salty, sour flavours.
The creamy cheese though slightly salty on its own imparted a mild sweet briny that surprises, and to me it was almost like a cheese treat, wrapped like a candy as it is.

The saury fish parfait was straight up savoury with its prominent saltiness, but the segments of sharp sour umeshu plums was an unexpected contrast.

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BELOW: Saury Fish Parfait with Sushi Rice Cracker.

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Intrigued, I sat back with anticipation of the next dish, pleasantly surprised and pleased that the chefs came up with something entirely unique. The amuse bouche certainly set the right tone for the meal.

The entree, a Sashimi Platter by Chikara Yamada was flawless. A lover of fresh seafood, I devoured the platter in silence, momentarily lost in savouring such freshness and flavours.

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The soy tofu is worth a mention here. These soft, mousse like cubes are squares made from miso and apple juice; among other ingredients, which the chefs understandably kept mum.

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After the cold platter, the warm soup slowly worked its magic, opening the appetite further for more.
This Hokkaido Crab “Shinjo” in Blue Shell Crab Consomme arrived at the table wrapped. The soup is prepared at the teppan counter by encasing the ingredients (Hokkaido crab cake, vegetables, mushrooms) into a cellophane paper bag.

There are 3 stages of enjoying this dish. First feast with your eyes the delicate, colorful bag of superior ingredients. Next inhale the tantalizing vapor released once the bag is opened.
Hold on your horses and let the staff pour in the clear, sweet blueshell crab consomme into the mix before finally picking up your spoon to savour the dish.

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The next dish had our eyes feasting before the dish was served. Chef Yamashita’s Foie Gras Hamburger Steak had foie gras stuffed within and after 20 minutes or so on the teppan, he finished it with a flambe of XO.
The sauce used was a Bordelaise sauce (red wine, shallots, among other ingredients).
I find the juicy patty to be of perfect balance of minced texture (not too fine nor too coarse) and lavish with the addition of a chunk of foie gras.

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After all the above, we finally arrived at the main course.
At this point, most of us were full.
However, this is the highlight of the meal, and we duly made tummy space.

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Main dish: Gifu-Ayu sweetfish cooked 3 ways.
Deep fried Gifu-Ayu sweetfish by Chikara Yamada
Confit Gifu-Ayu sweetfish Hisashi Yamashita
Gifu-Ayu sweetfish Bagna Cauda by TEN (Chef Daisuke Miyake Australia)

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This platter is a collaboration between the 3 chefs.
The deep fried sweet fish (Ayu) was crispy minus any greasy residue. The thick meaty flesh was wrapped around a Matsutake mushroom which provided a burst of juiciness with each bite. I thoroughly enjoyed this with a squeeze of lime over its batter.

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The sweet fish confit is by Chef Yamashita. The fish is carefully and slowly in low temperature in oil until everything is soften thus all components are edible.
Yes, skin, bones and all.
Though the fish is fantastic on its own, soft and sweet; the sauce accompanying the confit fish is a stimulating puree of passionfruit, cucumber flavored with tomato and dill which elevated the whole eating experience.

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Last but not least, the sweetfish Bagna Cauda is by Chef Miyake.
This was served with vegetables of purple carrot, Belgium endive, swiss chard and ice plant. The creamy but light almost mousse-like tartar sauce was unique, which the chef divulged to have a base of mayo and Worcester sauce with added pickles and capers.
If I’m not mistaken the technique used to make this sauce is an El Bulli technique of espuma syphon.

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This dish by Chef Yamada was cooked in an earthenware pot. Whole ayu fishes was cooked with accents of ginger and shiso leaves which turned out to be a tasty one-pot-dish when the rice and fish was mixed up, bones and all, into the rice.
This is no ordinary rice either, but a unique Hinode short grain called Hitomebore. Hitomebore is a premium variety of rice that originated in well, where else but Japan.
The grains are glossy and soft when cooked, with a sticky yet smooth texture.

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Shokuji : Steamed Gifu-Ayu sweetfish by Chikara Yamada.

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Stuffed at this point, I occupied myself taking more pictures around TEN and to check out the sake on display. Though we weren’t served sake during our lunch, these are the sake meant be paired with the dinner for those who chose the sake pairing menu.

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Michisakari sake. Since 1771 and the best brand in the dry sake category.

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Last but not least, we were treated to TEN’s traditional way of tea ceremony for dessert.
This is the Vanilla ice cream garnished with marshmallows & Italian meringue, designed like a lotus flower.
Hot thick, non- sweetened macha sauce is poured over the dessert once it is served and guests are encouraged to begin savouring it immediately to enjoy the hot & cold effect of the dessert.
I love this.  The vanilla ice cream sweetness is balanced out with the slight bitterness of the non-sweetened matcha sauce.

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With 3 Japanese chefs preparing your 7 course meal for you for RM290+/pax, using imported Japanese ingredients, one can’t deny that it is a sweet deal for the spread of the dishes cover a variation of cooking techniques that cleverly accentuate the exquisiteness of the Ayu (sweet fish).

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Missed out on this one?
Don’t despair as TEN Japanese Fine Dining will be hosting more of such bespoke dinners.

Meanwhile you can still enjoy TEN’s lunch and dinners. Just be sure to make your reservations and check out their FB page (https://www.facebook.com/Ten.Japanese.Fine.Dining) frequently for upcoming events.

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Address:
A-G-1, Marc Residence, Ground Floor, No.3 Jalan Pinang,, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Hours: Mon-Sun:
11:30 am-2:30 pm
6:00 pm-12:00 am