Sunday, 27 January 2013

Kyoto meets Edinburgh: Burns Night Japanese Style

We all know that the Japanese do whisky. And they do it well. So I was more than delighted to be invited to join Hakkasan CEO Niall Howard along with successful Scottish business (wo)men and “celebs” (courtesy of 360 Communications and Bacchus PR) for a Burns Supper with a unique Asian twist hosted at Chrysan.

Welcomed with traditional bag pipes – the Scottish ones, I know that the Japanese have their own version too – and a glass of Champagne, I opted for a non alcoholic drink (thank you Worship Street Whistling Shop for my boozy early evening!) and received a deliciously tropical Iced Tea with an orchid on top. I have to say this was a good call as what was to come was a real education in taste.

A mere two minute welcome speech led us straight into the meal, starting with a small “dish” that has sake poured into it. Well they said it was sake, it tasted like warm lychee tea and was the perfect palate cleanser with the warm flannels too. (I opted for a hand wipe, my neighbor went for a full facial wipe down!) Next was Tori Leekie soup (chicken, leek and ginger) with Suntory Hakushu 12 yr old and soda; this is very popular in the East as an introduction to whisky and palate cleansing too. The soup was fabulous, so was the whisky with a smoky hint coming out too.

Next was Nabe Burns – “Japanese haggis”, dashi turnips and wasabi potato salad – served with Suntory Yamazaki 18 yr old. Now, the Japanese do not have Haggis. However Niall had taken the ingredients to chef Daisuke Hayashi and with some Japanese spice and magic it become a delicious plate of nummy – official term - which was wiped clean. And the whisky? Something about the hand carved ice ball had a profound effect on the whisky beyond dilution. It was incredibly approachable and disappeared worryingly quickly.

And lastly, one of my food nemesis’ – Cranachan. If you don’t know it, it’s like we took Eton Mess, swapped the meringue for oats (?!) and threw in whisky and honey – hideous. Yet this was transformed – or deconstructed I should say. Firm whipped cream was encased in oats and topped with raspberry coulis, accompanied by macha ice cream, Hibiki soaked raspberries and honeycomb pieces. Drooling yet? This was accompanied by the star drink of the night – Suntory Hibiki Old Fashioned which my brother and dining partner had finished before dessert arrived!

Coffee was short and strong, toilets were heated and complicated to the point of fear. I loved both.

The best thing about this evening is that although Burn’s celebrations are over for another year, this was a trial run for Chrysan's larger plans next year to celebrate the --- anniversary of Kyoto and Edinburgh’s city twinning, So in about 11 months’ time when you start thinking about how to celebrate, Chrysan may well be doing something a little special and a lot tasty.


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