After 20 years experiencing Japan, I often ask myself the reasons for my fascination with its customs, culture, art and food. It’s a remote land thousands of miles from where I was born, yet each time I land in Narita I feel like I am back home. And when I am not there, I long to go back to the country that is still a mystery to me.
Is it the omotenashi, the Japanese hospitality? The rituals of dining? The perfectionism of the artisans? Or maybe ichigo ichie, the philosophy of treating each moment, each encounter, as special and unrepeatable?
With the 11th edition of Luxeat Insider, we try to answer what is nihon ryugi , “things done the Japanese way”. We take a deep dive into many interconnected parts of the Japanese way of life. An interview with microbiology scientist and ramen maker David Quist on why ramen is the perfect blank canvas for gastronomic experimentation, and an introduction to the complexities of sake with sake expert living in Tokyo Rebekah Wilson-Lye.
We also go far beyond the food scene, talking to historian, professor and author of “WA: The essence of Japanese design” Rossella Menegazzo about the enduring appeal of Japanese design in everything from bento boxes to calligraphy pens. Last but not least, we chat with ceramics legend Robert Yellin about the tradition and innovation of Japanese ceramics. For those of us who still can’t travel to Japan, I’ve also shared a list of my top Japanese spots in London, focusing above all on the integrity of the chefs and the quality of the ingredients.
Aiste and Evelina
Rossella Menegazzo: The enduring beauty of Japanese design
Art historian Rossella Menegazzo has always specialised in Japan: she completed her PhD in Oriental Studies with a dissertation on Japanese art history and photography in 2009, and went on to become Professor of East Asian Art History at the University of Milan. Menegazzo is the author of numerous texts on Japanese photography, graphic design, and the traditional ukiyo-e art, and the co-author of WA: The Essence of Japanese Design. Her book explores the timeless beauty of Japanese design through 250 objects, ranging from bento boxes, calligraphy brushes, and Shoji sliding doors to Noguchi’s Akari lamp, the iconic Kikkoman soy sauce bottle, and a modern‐day kimono. Menegazzo joins us on Luxeat to talk about the reason we’re so drawn to the simple, clean and minimalist designs we associate with Japan.
Ramen with David Quist
A PhD in microbiology may not seem an obvious background for the creator of a trendy ramen shop in Oslo, but the connections run deeper than you might think. David Quist talks to Luxeat about the huge untapped potential of making meat from fungi, and why ramen is the perfect canvas for culinary experimentation”.
An Exploration of Japanese Sake with Rebekah Wilson-Lye
Sake – a fermented alcohol, brewed from rice, kōji rice, water and yeast – is one of the world’s most misunderstood beverages. It’s not a distilled spirit, and to ensure it maintains its true quality, low temperature storage is essential at all times. We sit down with Rebekah Wilson-Lye, a prominent sake expert and industry innovator based in Tokyo, to talk about what sake is actually all about. As the international marketing and export manager of Japan Sake Craft Company, she shares wisdom on everything from pairing, current sake trends, and the most common mistakes when purchasing the beverage.
Japanese Ceramics with Robert Yellin
As part of our deep dive into Japan, Luxeat has the joy of meeting with a Japanese ceramics legend to better understand the history and importance of cups, plates and bowls across the nation. Robert Yellin is an American Japanese ceramics specialist who has been living in Japan since 1984. With ceramics’ roots in the sacred and quintessentially Japanese tea ceremony rituals, Yellin believes that it crosses the boundaries between art and functionality in Japan and enters into a Divine world.
My Top Japanese Spots in London
When it comes to Japanese restaurants in London, the last two decades have been all about big, loud, dimly lit spaces; the complete opposite to the spirit of Japanese cuisine. The trend started with the opening of Nobu on Park Lane in 1997. Suddenly it seems that everybody wanted to replicate its success and follow the same formula of “black cod” or “yellow tail with jalapeño”…
Alain Ducasse and Albert Adrià Join Forces to Open Paris Restaurant
In breaking news in the culinary world, culinary legends Alain Ducasse and Albert Adrià have announced they will be opening a restaurant together in Paris later in the year.
Denmark’s Noma restaurant finally gets 3 stars as Michelin announces 2021 Nordic ratings
René Redzepi’s world-beating restaurant, Noma, in Copenhagen, has finally received three Michelin Stars. For many, this has been a very long time coming.
Gastro hub: Macron creates centre of excellence for French food
President says aim is to promote culinary traditions and prepare chefs ‘as athletes’ to win prizes.
Scientists Create First 3-D Printed Wagyu Beef
Scientists in Japan successfully 3-D printed a cut of Wagyu beef that looks just like the real thing. The team at Osaka University in Japan used three dimenstional bioprinting to replicate the cut’s specific arrangement of muscle, fat and blood vessels. They hope lab-grown meats could provide a more sustainable—and delicious—alternative to traditionally-raised beef.
Uncovering the Diverse Cuisine of Marseille
Marseille is one of Europe’s most underrated gastronomic capitals, often overlooked in favour of other French and Italian destinations such as Bologna, Rome, Lyon and Paris. In fact, the city has a rich culinary heritage that takes influence from across the Mediterranean, thanks in part to its coastal location. Fish plays a huge part in Marseilles’ cuisine, with renowned dishes including the humble fisherman’s soup bouillabaisse, chickpea panisse, various shellfish dishes and – perhaps a little surprisingly – pizza.