In 2009 we brought you authentic Kyoto osechi New Year’s cuisine and while Japanese style is the norm there are some restaurants that do Western, Chinese or fusion-type osechi. I had a chance to meet Chef Shinzo Okumura of Restaurant Okumura who is said to have invented ‘French Kaiseki’ and talk with him about his unique French osechi cuisine.
Chef Okumura launched his French osechi 20 years ago. At that time people in Kyoto mainly had Japanese-style osechi but they were ready for something different and people were surprised but happy to try it. It is still a hit, every year hundreds of families celebrate the new year with Chef Okumura’s osechi.
Ichinojyu Top Box Contents (from top to bottom, left to right)
Ham and Cheese Quiche, Karasumi Salted Mullet Roe and Sauteed Chestnuts
Amadai Poele Steamed and Grilled Young Sea Bream
Potato, Cheese, Kyoto Vegetable and Truffle Galette
Marinated Scallops with Julienned Kintoki Ninjin Carrots
Homard Lobster Ratatouille
Beef Terrine (and Gold Leaf)
Kuro Mame Black Bean, Lotus Root with Katsuo Powder
Wagyu Beef Roast Teriyaki
Wagyu Beef Chili Con Carne
Ninojyu Middle Box Contents (from top to bottom, left to right)
Aomi Daikon, Dill and Vinegared Lotus Root Wrapped in Smoked Salmon
Matsutake, Kinusaya Peapods and Kuruma Ebi Shrimp Vinaigrette
Vinegared Flounder Sashimi and Kabura Turnip Roll
Lobster and Plum Blossom Shaped Kintoki Ninjin Carrot and Nagaimo
Ikura in Yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit)
Foie Gras and Truffle Terrine in Kabosu (Japanese citrus fruit)
Kazunoko, Simmer Ayu and Komochi Kombu
Sannojyu Bottom Box Contents (from top to bottom, left to right)
Marinated Sea Bream Sashimi, Wine Steamed Abalone, Kiku Kabura Pickled Turnip, Daitokiji Natto on Pine Needle and Hajikami
Marinated Sangoshi (Young Spanish Mackerel) Sashimi,
Ryuhi Maki (Kombu Wrapped Flounder) Chrysanthemum Petals
Yuzu Sauce Marinated Managatsuo (Japanese Butterfish) Grilled, Grilled Salmon Misozuke, Yellowtail Buri Teriyaki
Iimushi Sake Streamed Mochi Rice with Kabura and Kintoki Ninjin Carrot, Boiled Crab Legs
The Osechi Rush
After our second interview on December 30th, I snapped this great photo of friendly and personable Chef Okumura. I asked him he wanted to put on his chef hat and pose but he said no thanks, as is is best. He looks tired because he just finished making more than 300 boxes of osechi!
Osechi is usually made on the 29th and 30th, and shipped by ‘cool’ delivery on the evening of the 30th to arrive anywhere in the country on the 31st. All the work has to be done in the space of about 48 hours, max. So, usually there is no sleep for chefs and kitchen staff making osechi.
We have a few more articles coming about Chef Okumura and his French kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto. Stay tuned.