Study and Sample Dashi at a Sapporo City Hotel Restaurant
by Shungo Hanaoka
Japanese food is not the same without dashi. It is a fundamental Japanese cooking stock. What exactly is this thing called dashi, where does it come from, and how is it used in cooking? There is an experience where you can thoroughly learn the world of dashi.
The host of this experience course is the “Century Royal Hotel,” which is directly connected to the Sapporo Station via an underground passage. The hotel opened in 1973. It is a representative Sapporo city hotel that is known for having achieved high ranks in every kind of hotel survey for its delicious food. The dashi experience can be found on the 19th floor in the Japanese restaurant “Kitanoji.”
The entrance to this Japanese restaurant lies at the end of a long hall. Your heart will beat fast in this place that brims with a sense of high refinement.
Even within that atmosphere, there is a private room resembling a deluxe suite called the “Chef’s Table.” The expansive view from this room allows you to look down on Sapporo Station and gaze out at the city of Sapporo.
The head prep chef himself, Mr. Tetsuyuki Kumagai, gives a lecture on “Authentic Dashi Preparation.” Chef Kumagai is from the Hokkaido town of Matsumae. He began working as a Japanese food chef at the hotel, gained experience working at various restaurants midway, then returned to the hotel as its head prep chef two years ago. Throughout that career, he has worked solely with Japanese food for 33 years. He is also always responsible for leading a kitchen team of 14 to offer the most incredible flavors to customers.
The experience course started on February 2016. The chef gives an explanation of dashi. There is also an actual dashi tasting. The three dashi flavors included are katsuo (bonito), shaké (salmon), and maguro (tuna). Can you distinguish the subtle differences between them?
After the course, it is time to eat. The menu changes seasonally, but there are always seven courses. You can experience the tastes and flavors of dashi, and enjoy the following courses: Appetizer, Small Bowl Dish, Sashimi, Stewed Dish, Hot Pot, Meal, and Dessert. The course takes about 45 minutes, followed by an hour for meal time.