“The little duck was looking at me,” said Keiichi Hirukawa, the new head sushi chef of Nobu Restaurant, as he recalled his first time to eat balut when he arrived in the Philippines late last month.
“It scared me,” added the poker-faced, soft-spoken Hirukawa, who started his career as a sushi chef in Kiyoshi’s Japanese Restaurant in Florida in 1998 before joining Nobu Malibu two years ago.
Hirukawa may still be gathering his courage on how to interpret balut as sushi, but he has boldly taken on iconic Filipino dishes such as adobo and kare-kare.
For Nobu Manila’s Omakase menu this month, he introduced his two sushi creations—thinly-sliced fresh salmon sashimi with coconut milk, bits of pineapple, ginger, chili, onion leeks, and a drizzle of amazu vinegar; and yellowtail sashimi salad with peanut sauce, karashisumiso bagoong, celery, and mixed greens.
“I would never have thought of using peanut butter. It was a surprise for me as well. I loved it,” said Hirukawa.
The eight-course Omakase menu includes truffle butter-crusted beef with goma demi-glace served with roasted kobocha; an appetizer composed of scallop chimichurri with mixed herbs, ponzu, and caviar; onion dashi soup with spinach, daikon, carrots, and pea shoots; and Granny Smith apple cheesecake for dessert.
During the media preview, Hirukawa also prepared a playful trio of sushi dishes served on sake cups: tuna sisig, emperor adobo, and belt fish chimichurri.
He said he plans to introduce more sushi creations that feature local ingredients to form part of the seasonal Omakase menu as well as during Nobu’s brunch buffet on Sundays.
His philosophy is in keeping with the culinary genius of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s Japanese-Peruvian fusion artistry that has produced globally-acclaimed Nobu sushi staples such as black cod miso, toro tartar with caviar, yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño, and rock shrimp tempura, among others.
“My vision is to create Nobu dishes that you can only eat in Manila…It is fusion with a local touch.”
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