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Aoyagi.

Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux in town. Japan,Tokyo

Hirohisa Koyama

Chef
Aoyagi Tokyo 106-0041

I graduated as a mechanical engineer from the University. My family has been running a restaurant for more than 100 years, so I more or less had to become a chef. Perhaps I could make a living with what I learned at the university, but I loved cuisine already when I was a child, so that I naturally became absorbed in the life that I have now. Since then, I have been striving to create more delicious cuisine 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - that’s my life as a grand chef.


What was your most moving culinary experience?
My mom’s crispy cooking with sounds like thunder that I called “Thunder Bowl”.
I grew up as the son of a restaurant owner that’s why I have no memory of having had dinner with my family ever in my life. The restaurant has always been busy at dinner time.
I was so hungry when I got home from school that I begged my mother to prepare a "thunder bowl", which is a simple bowl of frizzling tofu and tenkasu (small pieces of deep-fried dough produced while cooking tempura) becoming crispy; then seasonings are added and the rice is heated. But the bowl made by my mom is much more delicious than mine, as a professional chef. I think that I am not able to match my mother making it taste like that.

What was the most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
About 10 years ago, it happened in the UK during a culinary fair.
The day before the fair, I prepared beans in water but when I checked them the next morning, they had not changed. It was strange because normally harshness is removed from a bean when you place it in the water overnight. The dry seaweed from NARUTO was likewise not soaked by water due to the different quality of water in the UK and Japan.
Tap water in the UK is hard water, that’s why dry foods are not rehydrated by hard water. This was my first experience of this phenomenon. There have been many other cases in which I had unique experiences. I asked an assistant to help me prepare ANMITSU (bean jam and pieces of fruit served in syrup) with an agar gelatin, but he dumped it because he thought it was a packaging material. Today I can laugh about those experiences, due to the gap between countries and cultures.

Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
Be the second best chef, because the BEST is mom!