Hajime Yoneda, earned his 3 star Michelin rating one year plus after the opening of his restaurant. It is now a 2 star establishment in Osaka.
Hajime decorate his dishes with dramatic bright rich colors with detailed naturalistic elements which turns his dishes into pieces or art paintings, depicting the concept of a living cycle on earth.
He conveys his message through flavors and aesthetic presentation of the dish, which I would consider his work as an edible state-of-the-art art pieces. Although no pictures are allowed, here’s how the menu goes.
Titled as – a dialogue with the earth 2014, the meal went like this.
Midori 緑 Green – asparagus / chickweed
Non-alcohol drink pairing – Pomillon
A non-alcoholic cider from an apple country in France. Produced by a winemaker of a famous champagne house with organic apples.
Seimei 生命 life – ayu / flatfish / herring roe
Mizuumi 湖 lake – biwamasu / stick senor /Japanese pepper /Hatcho miso / mango / white kidney beans
Non-alcohol drink pairing – Ginger Ale
Mixed with various spices by sommelier. Enjoy the combination of trout, ginger and citrus.
Yama-kawa-umi 山—川—海 mountain – river – sea – freshwater prawn/uncured ham/pink shrimp/quail egg/day lily
Non-alcohol drink pairing – Kyoto Uji Gyokuro Cold water extraction
Extract with water for brining out refined taste of Gyukoro. Clear taste with umani flavor and sweetness
Hakai to douka 破壊と同化 destruction and assimilation – foie gras / Asian hazel
Non-alcohol drink pairing – Kodaimai-cha
Roasted Kodaimai rice which sucking up power of the earth. Accentuates the texture of foie gras
Kibou希望 hope – dew – pine, sky – duck/ celeriac/ beet/ fig/ parsnip
Non-alcohol drink pairing – Blackcurrant Alain Milliat
Non-alchol drink with Noir de Bourgogne
Tsuki 月 moon – grapefruit/arita mikan/lime
Ai 愛 love – strawberry/raspberry/sable
The meal started with some mini bites. Small crackers, a little similar to the ones you get at Atera, but of course with a different concept and flavor profile. One was a thin “prawn chip” like cracker, topped with flatfish and the yellow crunchy herring roe. Another was a bite size yummy ayu fish meat tempura. Theses small bites represent the start of small living organisms on earth.
The meal went on with some living creates in small river – slow cooked salmon on top of fresh mangoes, placed on a white flat stone plate and decorated with some green bean puree spots, two Hatcho miso thin crackers which were cut into the shape of small fishes, and some white kidney beans.
My second favorite dish was Yama-kawa-umi. The semi-cooked melting texture shrimp was situated in a bright circular sky blue plate and was slight decorated with a raw quail egg yolk, ham and edible flowers. The presentation was a display of life that resides in the riverside.
The highlight of the meal was the duck. The skin was grilled to a very crispy texture while the duck was cooked blue rare, placed on top of a celeriac puree. It’s definitely one of the best duck I have every had. It could be pared with duck dish from Eleven Madison’s Park although both are cooked in a different style.
The dish was decorated with a splash of bright green which was used to place the vegetable serves like figs, beetroot, beans, parsnip and puree.
Hakai and douka was a dish with interesting concept and texture. It’s a mixture of the savory foie gras with the sweet hazelnut cream. In one bite, you feel the cracking of the sugar crust and the soft foie gras and hazelnut cream. I would describe it as a volcanic eruption in your mouth where you felt the cracking of the earth surface in an earthquake and the hot and cold “lava” that slipped between the fracture surface.
Chef Hajime played with temperatures in his last dessert – Ai. White chocolate ball was stuffed with strawberry ice cream, and a hot strawberry/raspberry sauce will be poured on the hole on top. The dish has to be eaten immediately.
It was overall a very enjoyable meal. I thought it deserves a 3 star before Fujiya 1953 does. In terms of cooking techniques and service, Hajime was more sophisticated in every way. Fujiya is also a nice restaurant, with a simple concept, but I myself enjoyed Hajime far more better than Fujiya 1953.
Hajime Yoneda Restaurant
Tel: +81 6 6447 6688
Address: 1-9-11-1F, Edobori, Nishi-ku, Osaka City, Osaka, Japan
Visited on: 17 June, 2014
Chef: Hajime Yoneda
Price: 39,400 Yen