MONTE CARLO (Kyodo) At a time when Japanese dishes are gaining popularity around the world, celebrated French chef Joel Robuchon is operating a restaurant that serves Japanese cuisine to suit French palates.
His restaurant, Yoshi, is located in a corner of the upscale Metropole hotel in Monte Carlo.
The dining room, with black as its underlying tone, is seen behind the restaurant’s lattice door. A Japanese-style garden lies beyond the terrace in the depths of the restaurant.
The menu lists dishes familiar to Japanese, including “onsen tamago” (hot springs boiled egg), “ebi shinjo” (shrimp dumplings in soup) and “saikyo yaki,” or black cod soaked in white miso for 24 hours before cooking.
Robuchon, 63, who manages restaurants in Paris, Monte Carlo, London, New York, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Macau and Tokyo and who has received a total of 26 stars from the Michelin guidebook, said the purpose of opening Yoshi in December was not to attain fusion between French and Japanese cuisines but to serve legitimate Japanese food that suits French tastes.
Some flavors of stock will not appeal here in their original form, he said, adding that while it may be Japanese fare, it needs to be given European seasoning.
He also explained that the soup to go with vinegar-flavored seafood is jellied to give the strong effect of the taste.
Although kanji are not used for the restaurant’s name, he said Yoshi means “goodness” in Japanese.
Since first visiting Tokyo in 1976, Robuchon travels to Japan four times a year and has a great interest in Japanese food and services.
Robuchon and Takeo Yamazaki, 39, work as chefs at the restaurant. Yamazaki comes up with ideas for the menu and Robuchon makes decisions on food tastes and presentation.
Before coming to Monte Carlo, Yamazaki, who specialized in French cooking, was ordered by Robuchon to spend three months in Tokushima Prefecture to undergo special training at a “kaiseki” restaurant. A kaiseki meal consists of courses served in individual trays.
Yoshi imports wasabi from Japan, uses the meat of “wagyu” Japanese cows bred in Spain and gets fish from Italy.
Robuchon said he picked Monaco for his Japanese restaurant because it is an ideal place where people gather from all over the world.
Diners at Yoshi come from various countries, centering on residents of Monaco.
Robuchon said Japanese dishes have become everyday fare around the globe and sushi is beginning to dethrone pizza from the position of being the top favorite food in the world.
Yamazaki believes Robuchon’s goal is to lead Japanese-style “washoku” food in becoming a world standard.
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