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Dominique Corby: a magician in the kitchen

Dominique Corby: a magician in the kitchen

Emmanuelle Jary - 2010-08-11

Famous in Japan for his French cuisine, media darling Dominique Corby hosts a television show and is an eminent connoisseur of Japan’s culinary culture.

You probably wouldn’t mistake Dominique Corby for a Japanese native - not yet, anyway. The famous chef, a long-term resident of Japan, hasn’t quite renounced his Parisian origins. In fact, he embraces both cultures and perhaps, above all, their cuisines. Unlike many of his French colleagues who live in the Land of the Rising Sun, the former sous-chef of Paris’s Tour d’Argent speaks fluent Japanese. Corby is passionate about every form of cuisine served in Japanese restaurants (sobaya, kappo, kaiseki, teppanyaki…), and he tirelessly samples them all while regularly making the rounds of new establishments. He is equally curious about the French cuisine served in Japan. More than anything else, he’s a man who likes to share - a sort of unofficial French ambassador - and his blog is a treasure-trove of reviews, photos and addresses.
 
The last time we visited Japan, we went to Osaka and joined Corby for an insider’s tour of the city’s most exclusive and exceptional restaurants. We were presented with a procession of dishes created from the finest and rarest of ingredients. After a gargantuan feast accompanied by the finest sakes (Jummai dai Ginjo...), we allowed ourselves to be shepherded by this magical chef who decided - at four in the morning - to whip up a typically French recipe just for the fun of it, which is how, most unexpectedly, we first discovered his amazing talents as a chef. And given just how delectable the food he managed to improvise on the electric stove of a late-night bar could be, we easily imagined that back in the familiar kitchen of his restaurant, Dominique Corby would positively shine.
 
Later, comfortably seated in the very chic restaurant Sakura located on an upper floor of the equally chic Hotel New Otani, our theory was confirmed. With the city as our dining partner – the view is sublime – we thoroughly enjoyed a meal that the Japanese would probably consider French but which we, as French natives, were hard-pressed to define. Suffice to say, the food was brilliant.
 
Somewhere on the line between both cultures, the various dishes expressed the goodness and elegance of an art form skilfully executed with great passion.  Yes, the cuisine speaks French as well as the chef speaks Japanese, but the availability of the finest Japanese ingredients naturally guides Corby’s choices when he invents and presents his creations.
 
Take for example his terrine of suckling pig and seasoned jellied eel, boudin gravy and small shellfish; cream of pumpkin with wasabi, small Shizuoka tomatoes, lobster and caviar aspic; cream of aïgo garlic and katsuo (bonito) cooked with leek fondue; whole roasted Hinai poultry with a fricassee of Japanese mushrooms and autumn vegetables (chestnuts, apios, mukago...). Between courses, Corby would visit us in the dining room to see how we were doing and explain the finer points of his cuisine. “Katsuo is bonito; apios is a small tuber; autumn is salmon season in Japan…” He spoke to us of teppanyaki Gilo Gilo in the Les Abbesses quarter of Paris; of Isami - also in Paris - for its excellent sushi; of Osaka’s Seafood Cuisine Festival in January; of the cuisine of Fukuoka Street... It was one of those rare occasions where our heads were every bit as satisfied as our stomachs.
 
PRACTICAL INFORMATION
 
Sakura
1-4-1 Shiromi
Chuo-Ku, Osaka
Japan 540-8575
Tel: + 81 06 69 41 11 11
 
Dominique Corby’s restaurant in Tokyo
Le 6e sens (The Sixth Sense)
Tel: + 81 03 35 75 27 67
 
Dominique Corby’s blog: http://corbydomi.canalblog.com
 

Famous in Japan for his French cuisine, media darling Dominique Corby hosts a television show and is an eminent connoisseur of Japan’s culinary culture.

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