Story and photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet TM
All rights reserved
Food photos are of REAL food with NO photoshop
Tuesday, 25 November, 2014
The inspiring and inimitable Travelling Gourmet TM goes to Jurong Point to find out…
MORE about Rakuten Japan Gourmet Festival because Japan’s number one online shopping mall, Rakuten, is bringing its renowned annual food festival to Singapore for the very first time. Launched in 2010, the hugely popular Japanese festival (known as Rakuten Umaimono Taikai in Japan) integrates the online and traditional shopping experience by bringing together the best of Rakuten’s online marketplace at an annual food ba zaar. Rakuten is like the Amazon of Japan n’est pas…Good food is always close to my heart. Happiness and Success are driven by PASSION! Good food and good wines are my passions! I am really looking forward to seeing what there is!
Plu tard…(later in French)
In an exclusive interview with The Travelling Gourmet TM, the tall, affable and humble CEO of Rakuten Asia and Co-Founder of Rakuten Inc., Masatada Kobayashi was very forthcoming.
The Travelling Gourmet TM & the CEO of Rakuten Asia
I asked him, “Why has Rakuten come to Singapore now? After all you already have branches in Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Sporting metal rimmed spectacles and a clean shaven head, he explained, “When Rakuten was established in Japan in 1997…with the goal to empower Japan. Now our current goal is to empower the world..and to bring more smiles into the world!”
My next query was, “Seichusan (nickname of Masatada),what is the significance of the Gourmet Festival?”
“Masatadasan replied, “This special event bridges online and offline to make both happen neh…ah no..you can’t taste food online.”
Very true! Or as they say in sunny Italy: Certo! The Travelling GourmetTM always says: tasting is believing! Oishi neh!
You may not be aware of why the Rakuten Gourmet Festival is being held in Jurong Point Mall. One very good reason is because Jurong Point has 5 million visitors a month! It is also directly connected to the Boon Lay MRT Station ensuring very easy access.
The Opening Ceremony with huge exuberant drums and the Japanese version of the Lion Dance was a blast! It is very true that you cannot taste food online! With this Maxim in mind, and without more ado, we proceeded to do some food tasting! Yay! Yay! Yum Yum!
As The Travelling Gourmet TM always says, “It is always better to let the food do the talking!” 🙂 Food writers, please do not steal my line…like “Love at first bite”, that was my original line too.
Current research shows that Singaporeans voted Japanese food their favourite cuisine together with local food! They also felt that Japanese food is the third most romantic after French and Italian cuisine <3. Singaporeans also believe Japanese food to be the healthiest and most Diet-Friendly cuisine.
Itada kimasu! (Bon appetit in Japanese)
I commenced with Sexy Salmon wrapped in moist Kelp (nutritious seaweed) and chewy Octopus deep fried in batter. This was from the Seafood Factory Four Seasons of Rebun Island. The island is located at Sokoton Cape in northern Hokkaido. Rebun received the Rakuten Ichiba (Japan) Gourmet Award 2013 in the Sea Urchin Category. Double Yummie!
Next was Tomita Melon House from Furano, Hokkaido. Using their melons from their ownorchard (plus sourced melons when demand is high), the succulent, red-orange juicy and diabolically delicious fruits are actually Cantaloupes. Each year they use over 50,000! In the blink of an eye, Yamamotosan whipped up a Melon Smoothie with Soft Serve Ice Cream! OMG! It is to throw your low-Calorie Diet plan out of the window for!
Seafood! Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo near the Ginza is rightly famous for its swimmingly fresh seafood. One time when I was there, the Chef filleted the Sashimi on the whole fish and presented it to me. As I tucked in, the fins started moving! The signature dish of Tsukiji Ryotei Takewaka is the Tuna and Seafood Chirashi which is better known as…the Japanese Seafood Parfait!
It is presented like an ice cream sundae! Premium Japanese Rice, Salmon and fatty belly of Tuna and topped with a generous helping of Ikura (big pearls of bright orange Salmon Roe). It is a meal in itself. I recommend you use spoons instead of chopsticks Ha! Ha!
This Chocolaterie from Yokohama boasts gourmet chocolate offerings like the Double Chocolate Cookie filled with filthy rich, fragrant and devilishly decadent 1mm thick Chocolate Ganache…Mmmmm! They sell 3 million a year and only use top quality tahitian Vanilla! The Owner/Chocolatier Katsuhisa Yagi went to Lyon to learn the dark & delicious arts of chocolate making…
The Gourmet Festival featured a lovely selection of Rakuten’s most popular food merchants from Japan, including several award winners such as recipients of the Rakuten Shop of the Year awards. The 10-day event at Jurong Point will introduce a variety of new-to-Singapore specialty products to Singaporean food lovers. It is on from 25 November, 2014 to 4, December, 2014.
Available at the festival were nearly 100 types of premium seafood, exquisite hand made confectioneries, chocolates, delicious desserts and other delectable delights from Hokkaido, Yokohama, Tokyo, Kyoto and Shizuoka.
As The Travelling Gourmet TM, I always make it a point to keep my finger on the pulse of the Gastronomy scene wherever I may travel. It is becoming crystal clear that the palates of Singaporeans for Japanese cuisine has matured to embrace a wider spectrum of this marvellous cuisine…
After all that tasting…there was still Lunch in Koshin Bo Authentic Japanese Buffet Restaurant! OMG! It is a tough job being The Travelling Gourmet TM but somebody has to do it…That is why I exercise daily, sometimes twice a day. My exercise regimen includes 6o push-ups non stop at one go…
The spread was huge…from fresh Oysters au naturel to Mussels, Big Prawns, Scallops with Roe on the half Shell and more.
To live well, you simply must eat well!
Before this exciting event I went for the very first time to Jurong Point in the far west of the island, a place I usually never frequent. This was on 10 November, 2014. It was the Opening of Japan Food Street…aka Shokutsu Ten, after a…wait for it…S$7 Million makeover! The place is built to mirror ancient Tokyo in the Edo style and modern day Osaka. High up on the ceiling you will even find a Ninja, the shadow warriors of ancient Japan on a rope. Their 21st Centry equivalent is the SAS. Do not worry, it is only a mannequin dressed all in black. I was stunned to find 17,000 square feet of 9 speciality restaurants, and numerous kiosks of Japanese specialities and handicrafts!
Kabe no Ana Restaurant
If you like Japanese pasta and Mentaiko Spaghetti, invented in 1967 by two gentlemen. One is Chibasan, a Japanese musician who lived in Italy for many years, and the other is Master Chef Narimatsusan. founder of Kabe no Ana Japanese restaurant. You can taste this unusual dish here. However, please be aware that Japanese intepretations of Italian Pasta is TOTALLY different from the authentic Italian pasta that you enjoy in Italy. I know, because as The Travelling Gourmet TM, I have travelled, worked and lived extensively in Italy and learned how to cook authentic Italian cuisine too. For the uninitiated, Mentaiko is Spicy Cod Roe. The Japanese interpretation of Italian cuisine is generally sweeter and not so salty. Mouthwatering Mentaiko Carbonara was one of the dishes for my Food Tasting Lunch with Bacon and Poached Egg!
I savoured too, Eggs Benedict with Chicken Ham, Spinach, Avocado and creamy Hollandaise. I would have preferred REAL ham with pork but never mind…Dessert was Tiramisu made with Matcha (Green Tea). Chef Nishimura helms this restaurant.
I like the Green Pumpkin Bakery which produces bread and pastries in the Japanese style. Again, very unlike the traditional French Boulagerie items. Try the unique Yuzu Roll Cake, Green Pumpkin Bun, Black Sesame Koshi Anpan and Gold Pearl Choc Cronut (a cross between a Croissant and Donut).
There are many other exciting restaurants and things to discover. I recommend you visit soon! Lots of things to buy for Christmas 2014 for your friends and loved ones! Here, the dedicated Japanese Food Lover can taste Japan without ever leaving sunny Singapore…Itada kimas! Enjoy!! 🙂
1 Jurong West Central 2,
B1, Jurong Point Shopping Centre,