OSAKA is known for hosting Japan's soul food, and from April 24th 2015, Sydneysiders
will get to have a bit of Osaka's soul in the heart of Potts Point.
With Osaka Bar, Owner-Chef Kazu will open his first venture. "I love Australia,
but I do miss Osaka. I wanted to bring a piece of who I am here, and Osaka Bar is
a piece of me. It will serve all the comfort food I miss from home, so I can feel at
home here in Sydney."
Owner Chef Kazu is from Suita city, in Osaka. Ask him whether he misses Japan,
and he will tell you that he misses Osaka. Chef Kazu brings 30 years of experience
with him. He started to learn how to become a tradtional Japanese Chef when he
was 18 years old and moved to Australia in 1996.
He first worked as a restaurant manager in Sydney's popular Masuya restaurant back in 1996. Upon arriving in Australia, Chef Kazu couldn't speak English. From hanging out with colleagues, he gradually learned. In 1998, Chef Kazu became Masuya's head Chef. "It was thanks to Masuya that I was sponsored".
Chef Kazu, despite having the coveted certificate to prepare the poisonous Puffer fish in many councils (the certificate is delivered per council and chefs who have this certification know how to thin sashimi very thinly) insists he isn't a sushi chef, but a traditional chef. Chef Kazu worked in very traditional Japanese restaurants, where tables and counters are replaced by tatami, and clients are wealthy Japanese politicians. He was the personal chef of a baseball player and his fiancee, preparing Omakase for them.
The lecturer:Peter Gibson (51) / Born: Sydney, Australia
Sake Sommelier – Sake Service Institute Tokyo, Japan
It has been said that “it’s not about the destination but the journey”
and for me this has truly been a journey of discovery over the last 30 years.
First up, let’s get it right! It is pronounced “saKAY” as in “oKAY” not “saKEY” as in “KEY”. OKAY! I have been travelling to Japan for different periods and for different reasons on average twice a year for the last 30 years.
Japan and sake are a part of me. Like most of my era my first experience of sake in the 80’s was not a positive one. Hot, yellow and not particularly nice. The year was 1984. Fast forward to August 2014 and on my 50th trip to Japan, here I am at the Sake Service Institute in North East Tokyo, the only foreigner in 25 sake enthusiasts sitting the Master of Sake exam. How was I to know enough about this 1000 year old treasure of Japanese culture that requires such precision and attention to detail to BREW (yes, it’s brewed). The true value of our relationship only really came to me at a small Izakaya in Ishinomaki, North East Japan in October 2013. I was in the middle of a 309km Charity Walk to support the recovery efforts after the devastation of the Tsunami & Earthquake of 2011. It was mackerel season and as I ate my fish and enjoyed a magnificent cold glass of Ichi No Kura (The One Brewery from Miyagi) overflowing into the lacquered box it stood in. I thought back on that first mouthful of burning hot liquid in 1984.How could this and the drink from 30 years ago be the same thing? Australians had to know more about this – they needed to know – and it was my duty to give them the chance to experience this same enjoyment. How could something that is made from just rice and water (with the help of a yeast starter and a very clever little mould) turn into something that was giving me so much joy on what had been a day full of sadness? This amazing liquid is produced under the scrutinising eye of the Toji (master brewer) and his Kurabito (brewery team). At more than 1300 breweries around Japan, these artisans live, breathe, eat, sleep and dream of the perfect sake, toiling throughout the winter months between October and February to fulfil their vision.
Upon returning to Australia I spent endless hours studying and trawling through books, academic papers and online resources about sake. The world of sake opened up before me with renowned foreign experts like John Gautner and Australia’s own Andre Bishop. I spent time with as many people from the sake industry as I could, both here and in Japan. I found that even though I had been drinking sake for so long, I still knew very little about it. The next step before my exams was to visit the breweries themselves.
The domestic market for sake in Japan is going through tough times. So the Japanese Government and Sake industry are identifying overseas markets as a growth area for Japan’s national drink. Only 2% of all sake made is exported and when you consider the standing that Japanese cuisine has around the world that is a low figure. This desire to embrace the overseas markets was evident & I was given one-on-one tours of sake breweries. It was a sublime experience and tasting the water used in sake was amazing.
As I wrote the answer to the first question in the exam I pondered my relationship with sake and Japan. This wonderful product has taken on a refined and sophisticated aura. A drink that can be enjoyed like wine and matches numerous cuisines not just Japanese. The test results are out and I passed, but I feel this is just the beginning. I walked out of the classroom as a Master of Sake but this is just a part of my lifelong relationship with sake and Japan. After all it is a piece of paper and sake is deeper than that. Tasting the unique flavours and smelling the aromas of fruits, nuts and flowers contained within this liquid, it’s little wonder that they call this the drink of the god.
SAKE’S TIME IS AT HAND AND NO LONGER SHOULD IT BE MISUNDERSTOOD. IT IS NOT A WINE, LIQUOR, LIQUEUR OR BEER. IT IS IN A CATEGORY OF ITS OWN, AND IT DESERVES RESPECT AND APPRECIATION. DON’T OVERTHINK SAKE, JUST ENJOY IT!