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Dublin: 9°C Saturday 16 January 2021

'If I opened this restaurant in Japan, it wouldn't be unique': Cork chef Takashi Miyazaki shares 5 things he's learned

Miyazaki’s Cork takeaway wowed the critics – and turned the food scene in the Rebel County around.

A Spanish film crew filming Takashi Miyazaki at work.
A Spanish film crew filming Takashi Miyazaki at work.
Image: Instagram/miyazaki_cork

THERE IS ABSOLUTELY no denying that the amount and quality of international cuisines available in Ireland has risen substantially in the past few years.

It feels like we are just catching up on the rest of the world, but all the same it is a joy to be able to eat Dongbei food at the back of a newsagents on Dublin’s Westmoreland Street or Korean kimchi pancakes in Sligo.

Takashi Miyazaki moved to Ireland in 2008, fell in love with Irish ingredients – in particular dairy and lamb – and realised his dream of opening his own restaurant.

Miyazaki is a small takeaway restaurant on Evergreen Street in Cork City that has garnered the attention of everyone in the country with Japanese dishes unlike any seen here before, filling our Instagram feeds with amazing photos before we had a chance to even fill our bellies.

She’s back. #harusamenoodlesoup #thisisirishfood

A post shared by Takashi Miyazaki (@miyazaki_cork) on

Following on from this success, Takashi has recently opened his second restaurant in Cork,  Ichigo Ichie on Sheares Street, which is a fine dining Japanese Kaiseki restaurant. His talents have exceeded expectations with his ‘once in a lifetime’ dishes and the five chef’s counter seats are sold out each season for months ahead.

A man with so much passion for food and dedication to his work, his craft, we wanted to know what are the five things that he has learned that has helped him achieve so much.

1. Don’t fling your pans around the kitchen

“I’ve been playing Kendo, which is Japanese fencing, since I was a kid. My childhood was spent training and playing Kendo and it’s very strict about your manner. All my family played Kendo, in fact my Dad was a Kendo master. I played it in a club but also when I came home we would live in the spirit of this martial art.

It’s about having a humble spirit. The way I think is based on this, whether it is to learn to be calm or be a more humble spirit. My love of food and cooking is based on the respect of this ethos, for example, to respect the ingredients and even the equipment. I really don’t like when chefs throw pans around in kitchens, because it shows a lack of respect for this.

2. Remember where you come from.

“I travelled around Japan by myself to learn about the different regions and cultures. Japan is a long country from south to north and each province has different specialities. I worked there too in each region. I loved that because I was able to see different people and farmers and how they deal with conditions; each region has different weather and temperatures.

“I learned lots of different styles of Japanese cooking and specialities. Then when I moved to Ireland in 2008 – which again was a new culture, with regional food and different ingredients – I could challenge these with my techniques.”

3. Turns out Japenese miso and Irish cheese are a great combo

Ichigo Ichie is a traditional Kaiseki restaurant, but I use Irish ingredients. Sometimes I use Irish cheese mixed with miso; two different cultures, as well as two different fermentations, coming together, and it works. Maybe mix it with sake then, that’s very interesting.

“The thing is, if I opened this restaurant in Japan, it wouldn’t be unique. It’s because this restaurant is in Ireland and I use local ingredients as much as I can. Taking local ingredients and using Japanese techniques is very challenging, but fun.”

4. The best skills are the ones you learn from scratch

“My team, especially in Miyazaki, are like a family. To make it strong and trust each other takes time, but I just show them my passion and they follow my passion. Even though it’s work, they like it because they’ve learned to love it they way I do. Another thing I’ve learned is not to hire a chef who says they have experience in Japanese cooking.

When I was in Miyazaki, I once hired a chef who said he was a sushi chef, but his way was not real sushi, he just had experience working in a sushi restaurant and that doesn’t make him a sushi chef. Now I only hire experienced chefs without Japanese cooking experience. I train them in the techniques and styles. All my team started from scratch with Japanese food.

5. You never stop learning

“What I’ve opened here in Ichigo Ichie is a really high-end Japanese food restaurant and some of the cooking skills needed, well, I’m still learning. For example, I am not a sushi chef, this takes years of training in Japan, but I am doing this and learning all the time. Even since opening I have learnt so much about the restaurant, ingredients, techniques, people… everything. You never stop learning!”

Check out Ichigo Ichie online here and Miyazaki here, or follow Takashi Miyazaki on Instagram.

More 5 things I’ve learned: Lillian Luk, the home chef who started a top supper club>

About the author:

Dee Laffan

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