Thursday, 08 March 2012 11:17

Fuse and be Done By

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Search for a connection between South America and Japan, and you’re likely to end up at Alberto Fujimori, the former and now disgraced President of Peru. Delve deeper, though, and you’ll discover that the largest overseas Japanese population is in Brazil, mainly in Sao Paolo. 1.5 million people-strong, the cuisine has followed. It has fused, too, with the flavours of the land. And it is this theme that the middle-floor restaurant in Blanchy’s Tash is trying to bring to Saigon.


Headed up by former London-based Nobu chef, Australian-born Martin Brito, the menu strikes both a familiar and unfamiliar chord. Familiar, in that the influences of Nobu Matsuhisa, a restaurateur of worldwide acclaim, are a clear addition to the menu. As Martin himself admits, when it comes to all things cuisine, the celebrity chef is one of his main influences. And yet, it is unfamiliar, too, in that this is the first time such a bold fusion of tastes, spices and cooking styles have been seen in this city.


To Martin, though, it’s not so bold. “The cuisines really match,” he explains. “In both types of cooking there’s lots of citrus and chilli. The Japanese are also into different types of vinegars, which merges well, too. There are lots of other similarities as well.”


Take the chilled ceviche, for example, a dish emanating from Northern Chile and Peru. Constructed with mixed seafood, cucumber, red onion, coriander and lots of citrus, the South American side of the equation is in the ingredients, while the Japanese factor comes with the dressing, which is made with ginger, garlic, soya and chilli paste.


Yet, the sea bass tiradito is assembled in quite the opposite way. The sea bass sashimi covered with yuzu lime dressing is 100 percent Japanese. Add the ricotto, a Peruvian chilli paste made from rococo chilli, and finish with Hawaiian volcanic black salt, and you have the South American twist. The final dish is sensational.


A Different Format


With swathes of imported ingredients, the cost of these creative constructions doesn’t come cheap. The truffles in the sauce that comes with the Wagyu beef, for example, are flown in from Italy. The beef is from Australia. And yet, prices are far from prohibitive. Dishes start at just under VND300,000 and rise, depending on the cost of the ingredients.


In addition, forget the traditional dining format we’re used to in the west. As Martin says, “The format is not starters and mains. It’s family-style. It all comes out and everyone shares it together.”


But, for the maestro on the stoves, the key thing is not that “the food is quite unique to the city.” It’s the adventure.


“I just want to come down here and be successful,” he says. “After six-and-a-half years at Nobu, this is a new adventure for me. I’m in a new city on a new continent, and Asia feels like the place to be right now.”

Blanchy’s Tash is at 95 Hai Ba Trung, Q1. The new menu was launched at the end of February.

Read 3944 times Last modified on Thursday, 08 March 2012 11:47

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