Chef Tomikawa’s Kaiseki: Humility in 9 courses

chef tomikawa in nairobi kenya serena photographed by susan wong 2

Decorated with branches of rosemary, the aromatic cider sheet package unraveled with ease.  The dried leaf-like rope crackled and slipped in between my fingers as I pulled the knot loose.  My companions, three passionate admirers of food, looks at my unwrapped present with awe.  “I’ll just pull, right?” he asks, and then points to his own.  The grilled black cod glistened of Yuan sauce under thin shavings of lemon.

Translated literally, Hoshitsukiyo or “Moonlight Night,” our Japanese menu for the evening, prepared by Executive Chef Tomikawa, could be mistaken for poetry.  As could the table setting: delicate mats revealed calming scenes of blooming Cherry Blossoms painted-in by flowing brush strokes on gossamer rice paper, and colourful Japanese paper meticulously tied into Mizuhiki knots – a symbol of affection and togetherness – liken to good-luck charms, dusted the table, marking this special week.

Mandhari Restaurant is located in Nairobi Serena Hotel Nairobi, Kenya. Special thanks to Eat Out Kenya.

Visiting from Amsterdam’s Okura Hotel, one Michelin-star Executive Chef Tomikawa brings authentic Japanese cuisine to Mandhari Restaurant of Nairobi Serena Hotel for only one week, which ends Saturday July 27th.

Known for his ability to develop new innovative techniques in-line with the traditional character of authentic Japanese cuisine, Tomikawa is a practitioner of arguably the craft’s highest culinary art form – Kaiseki.

A Kaiseki­ meal, a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner, celebrates the seasons by using fresh, natural and usually, local ingredients – in this case, exotic “local” ingredients that have been flown into the country.

As course followed course, hour followed hour, my companions and I were humbled by some of the group’s lack of knowledge.  Some of these were flavours they had never encountered, vegetables that they didn’t recognize, and cooking techniques that they couldn’t identify with.  But when the last spoonful of homemade Green Tea Ice Cream with Japanese Almond Sweets melted away in our mouths, we could only marvel at the 9-course parade of Tomikawa’s edible artwork – bite-size morsels all carefully arranged on handcrafted dishes.  I was mesmerized.  We were mesmerized.

In case you miss out on the unique opportunity of sampling Tomikawa’s culinary creations in Nairobi, Kenya, the Kaiseki-practitioner will be delighting palates in Kampala, Uganda 27th July to 29th July.


chef tomikawa in nairobi kenya serena photographed by susan wong 8

chef tomikawa in nairobi kenya serena photographed by susan wong 9


(Visited 118 times, 1 visits today)