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  • Writer's pictureMike Fishpen

A Private Chef’s Tour of Japan

private chef

As our tastes and appetites for new foods continue to grow, it is important as a private chef to keep on researching new cuisines and flavours. So, this year our favourite Private Chef, Mike Fishpen, took this very seriously with a culinary adventure in Japan. By doing this he can research new ingredients and flavours to bring to your dinner party, next time you hire him as a private chef. Here is what he discovered….

Kyoto was the original capital of Japan and seat of the imperial court for over a millennium, Kyoto is the place to go to understand the rich culinary tradition of Japan. It can be more traditional than other cities in Japan but all the foods that are popular in the UK are available, but it’s a great opportunity to try some new items from the aristocratic Kaiseki course dinners, vegetarian shojim ryori or why not try the simple obanzu home-style cooking.

Kaiseki ryori is a Japanese multi-course haute cuisine meal. Its origins are alongside the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Kaiseki meals have a prescribed order to their dishes, most of which are prepared by using one of the common techniques of Japanese cooking. However, kaiseki chefs have considerable freedom to add, omit or substitute courses in order to highlight regional and seasonal delicacies and personal style.

Nishiki Market

The Nishiki Market in Kyoto is definitely worth a visit. Full of amazing food stalls and unidentifiable food. Great places to eat with queues around the block, so you know that it is good! Street food is popular throughout Japan and a great way to discover new foods and reasonable prices.

Eating this way, Mike discovered a small side street restaurant called Duck Noodle which was one of the best meals he had in Japan.

Tokyo is the best place to go in Japan to explore all the different types of sushi available. In Japan it takes at least 10 years to become a sushi chef, or Itamae as they are called in Japan. So, you can be assured of some amazing flavours that blow out of the water anything you have tried in the UK. There are six types of sushi and Mike tried them all:

  • Nigiri - composed of fresh fish or other seafood neatly draped over a small mound of vinegar-seasoned rice that’s been brushed with wasabi.

  • Sashimi - raw, premium cut fish that can be dipped in shoyu and wasabi.

  • Chirashi -a steaming bowl of expertly seasoned sushi rice topped with a colourful assortment of sashimi and various toppings.

  • Oshizushi - Made by layering rice, assorted toppings, and juicy slices of sashimi in a wooden mould known as an oshibako.

  • Temaki – rice rolled in a square of dried seaweed filled with whatever you fancy.

  • Uramaki – This is inside out sushi first created in California, the famous California Roll, but loved by the Japanese too.


Mike also enjoyed exploring all the different types of ramen available on his trip. With over 32,000 ramen shops in Japan, he didn’t manage to visit them all. Ramen actually originated in China, but has been fully adopted by the Japanese and also adapted regionally, so depending on where you visit you might not be able to find your favourite. The top four types of ramen are:

  • Shoyu – this is a lighter style ramen made with light soy sauce.

  • Shio – this is frequently made from chicken broth with a lighter flavour but is often quite salty.

  • Miso – flavoured with fermented soyabean and is much richer and thicker.

  • Tonkotsu – a viscous creamy ramen made from simmered down pork bones.

private chef knives

Last, but definitely not least is Mike’s love of Japanese knives and you can rest assured that he invested in some new knives on his trip. Kamata knives was his favourite shop on Kapabashi Street in Tokyo. So, when you book Mike for your next dinner party, make sure you ask him to show you his knives.

If you would like to find out more about booking a private chef for your dinner party, please get in touch today to find out more. If you’re lucky, Mike might show you his holiday photos!


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