‘Taste of Japan’ samples dishes from 12 restaurants

Posted on Sep 17 2021

Hyatt Regency Saipan executive sous chef Zen Tomokane demonstrates how to filet an onaga.

Hyatt Regency Saipan executive sous chef Zen Tomokane demonstrates how to filet an onaga, a prized fish known in western parlance as sea bream, during last Monday’s “Taste of Japan” at Aqua Resort Club. (Mark Rabago)

The Japanese Society of the Northern Marianas held a sampling of authentic Japanese dishes during its “Taste of Japan” event last Monday at Aqua Resort Club.

Sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan to support Japanese citizens and their descendants living abroad, the event saw 12 Japanese restaurants serve a sample of their signature dishes to the invitation-only gathering.

Host Hiroko Tajima, who is also the vice president of JSNM, said the 12 participating Japanese restaurants mostly prepared what is called washuko, traditional Japanese food that the UNESCO had designated as Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2013.

“Wonder woman” sushi was also served.

“Wonder woman” sushi was also served. (Mark Rabago)

Aside from washuko, there were also servings of foreign dishes that are western and have Chinese origins that were prepared for the Japanese palate.

The Taste of Japan started with a live demonstration by Hyatt Regency Saipan executive sous chef Zen Tomokane on how to filet an onaga, a prized fish known in western parlance as sea bream. Guests were then treated to freshly cut onaga sushi with a specially made nikiri soy sauce. Sushi slices of “wonder woman” fish that were prepared earlier were also served.

After the live demonstration at the Kevin’s The Prime Rib & Seafood Restaurant, guests were then ushered to the Costa Terrace Restaurant were a boatload of numbered dishes in varying container sizes greeted them.

The samples enjoyed were cold ramen from Aiko’s Deli, matcha panna cotta from Aqua Resort Club, shiratama mocha zencai from Casa Urashima, shrimp tempura from Furasato Restaurant, beef tataki roll from Gentle Brook Restaurant, beef curry from Grotto Restaurant, seared salmon roll from Himawari, beef bowl from Kinpachi, shabu-shabu pork salad from Kuri-ya, karaage basket from Oleai Beach Bar & Grill, menchi katsu from Salty’s Grill & Café, and octopus ball from Uruya.

Guests enjoy onaga and “wonder woman” sushi.

Guests enjoy onaga and “wonder woman” sushi. (Mark Rabago)

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres was one of dozens of government and private sector official that were in attendance. He said Taste of Japan was a perfect opportunity for Japanese restaurants on Saipan to showcase their signature dishes.

“The food here was excellent. We all grew up here and a lot of our dishes are basically from Japan like sashimi, crackers, cookies. It’s really good,” he said.

Japanese Consul Kazuhiko Ono said the event shows that the Japanese government continues to look after the welfare of its citizens abroad. The event also gave guests a sample of the rich culinary tradition of the country, he said. “If you have an opportunity to visit Japan, you can try a number of [more] Japanese dishes,” he said.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at Mark_Rabago@saipantribune.com

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