It was playful, mischievious, but most of all, fun, just as Chef Ramsey always strived to achieve, made a touch exotic with Chef Yamauchi’s clever play with Japanese ingredients.
Over one weekend, it extended a special invitation to taste exactly what that art of living means, with a special menu curated in collaboration between Chef Jeff Ramsey of Babe Fun Dining and Chef Kenichiro Yamauchi of Nagoya-based Restau K Yamauchi.
Both chefs share a lot more in common beyond their strength in Japanese cuisine. They are inventive in finding new ways to present classic ingredients and flavours and are unafraid to have fun while at it, complete with a flute of Perrier-Jouët in hand. The result was a dinner that had us guessing and playing with our food, asking questions like:
What am I eating?
Some highlights from the 12-course dinner we had included one seemingly innocent crackers and dip from Chef Ramsey. The dark thin cracker was in fact a konbu flatbread, subtly fragrant with an immensely satisfying crunch. The dip that came with it turned out to be made of shirako – in other words, cod milt, also known as the cod sperm sacs. As terrifying as it sounded, it made for the sweetest and creamiest brandade emulsion, with an umami-ness that was further enhanced by the slight brine of the konbu flatbread.
What’s the black stuff?
Squid ink is no novelty in the dining world but never has it been used as Chef Yamauchi did in his squid dish. Reversing roles, slices of squid were buried in a thick squid ink sauce. The earthiness of the sauce was sweetened with amazake, the traditional sweet, low-alcohol Japanese drink of fermented rice, served at the stage right before it transforms into sake. Arugula lent a sharp spice to the profile, kangkong provided a nice crunchy chew and a dollop of uni enriched the entire palate.
What’s inside that?
Chef Yamauchi raised many questions in us with his deceptively simple beef pie that proved to be his modern take on the traditional beef wellington, executed with unmistakable Japanese influences. Inside the golden kombu pie crust, he cooked an A7 Wagyu tenderloin to medium rare perfection by wrapping it in a kombu wrap, allowing the brine of the seaweed to seep into the meat for the best flavours. Served minimally with a dash of smoked Dijon mustard and kinome sauce, the tenderloin was bursting with jus and tender as a pillow.
Is that real?
Chef Ramsey saved his best for last. True to his reputation in serving what seems to be but isn’t, his candy apple was a handblown hollow shell of an apple. But apple it still was, served in the form of a kinako apple mousse that jiggled temptingly inside. A base of brown butter ice cream that was borderline savoury kept things from becoming too sweet, while a drizzle of butterscotch caramel retained the authenticity of the candy apple we all grew up loving.
It was a dinner that was playful, mischievious, but most of all, fun, just as Chef Ramsey always strived to achieve, made a touch exotic with Chef Yamauchi’s clever play with Japanese ingredients. How else better to live in the moment?
Log on to Babe’s official website here to discover more.
This four hands dinner was sponsored by Perrier-Jouët. Log on to the official website here for more information on the champagne.
Watch when Babe and Chef Jeff Ramsey were reviewed by Chef Hironari Ooba from Hanaya Japanese Dining on Chef on Chef: