Nishitenma, Osaka, an area with a real sense of culture and history, where antique shops line the streets. Stepping in off these streets, the elegant stone-paved approach to Oimatsu Kitagawa, a restaurant serving Kyoto-style Kaiseki cuisine, sets you in the right mood before the meal has even begun.
Owner and chef Toru Kitagawa says, “I want to create a restaurant where customers are not simply buying the food, but also receiving time and space as part of the whole dining experience.” Thus, in a relaxing atmosphere brought about by the simple mud walls and seasonal flowers, Kitagawa serves fish-centric cuisine that one never tires of, such as fish grilled over straw that fills the restaurant with a wonderful aroma, that continually earns him Michelin star status.
Chef Kitagawa let us see how he prepares a soup dish with conger pike, an essential summer ingredient, and talked us through his approach and techniques at each stage from extracting the dashi stock, to plating the dish.
– About the Dashi soup
The kelp is from Rishiri, in Hokkaido. For the bonito flakes, 60% comes from the belly of the fish, and 40% comes from the back.
The Dashi soup used at restaurants serving udon and soba noodles is extracted from dried sardines and bonito flesh from near the spine that is bloody, which can easily lead to unpleasant flavors, but in Kaiseki cuisine, the purest soup is sought after, so parts of the fish that aren’t bloody are used.
– The meticulous care paid to the Dashi soup
In order to fully release the kelp flavor, the stock is carefully extracted over a 2-hour period. Chef Kitagawa’s endeavors result in the soup that is mild, not sharp.
He also pays close attention to the temperature. After bringing it up to temperature, it is important to lower the temperature so as not to boil the kelp, then keep it at a consistent temperature before again lowering it just before adding the bonito flakes.
4-1-11, Nishitenma, Kita-ku, Osaka-city, Osaka
Walk from Midōsuji Line “Yodoyabashi Station” 11 minutes
Subway Tanimachi Line 7-minute walk from “Minamimorimachi Station”