How nice is meeting people who have a real passion for something? Don’t you feel inspired by them? Recently I met Chef Tamaki through our mutual friend and she invited me to come along to her first Pop Up Kitchen event.
Tamaki was born and raised in Osaka, completed her chef’s qualifications in Melbourne and worked for a number of Melbourne’s well-known restaurants. She wants to share her passion and knowledge with people by organising various events – Tasting Nights, Pop Up Kitchens, Cooking Classes as well as guided Japanese Gourmet Food Tours.
The Pop Up Kitchens are the ones where you can enjoy the food prepared by Chef Tamaki. Each Pop Up Kitchen menu is different – depending on the freshest seasonal ingredients availability. It’s always her own special fusion of Japanese, Italian and Modern Australian dishes.
Last month’s Pop Up Kitchen at Lil Boy Blue featured an interesting autumnal menu.
For entree, we were presented with a very generous serving of Trio Of Salmon (sashimi, seared and tartare with wasabi avocado cream). This dish proved to me that salmon (which I usually try to avoid) can be interesting if done right. Both, the sashimi and seared salmon were soft and almost literally melt in the mouth. Slightly more intense flavour of the seared salmon was a nice contrast to the sashimi. But the star for me was the tartare. It had a nice balance and was well paired with the wasabi avocado cream.
After such a promising start, the main had a lot to live up to. We didn’t wait long until mains arrived and Chef Tamaki came to tell us a few words about the dish. Chicken Ballotine stuffed with dried fig, served on an autumn risotto of chestnuts and mushrooms with caramelised balsamic shallot, butter beans and beetroot puree – to be honest I was salivating even by reading the description. The Japanese-inspired risotto was interesting, I’ve never had one with chestnuts before – they definitely add to your usual risotto texture. Each bite was a pleasure and this elegant-looking dish turned out to be quite comforting.
The humble Bombe Alaska also had a pretty impressive Japanese makeover. It consisted of black sesame ice cream with kinako sable, hoji-cha tea jelly, sesame tuile with fresh raspberries. Beautiful, not too sweet dessert. The most intriguing part for me was the hoji-cha tea jelly – I couldn’t make up my mind what to think about it and I was switching between two extremes: “love it” and “I’m not too sure about it”. But I think it worked well with the ice cream and the overall not-too-sugary feeling of the dessert was thanks to that jelly.
The first Pop Up Kitchen was a success. It is definitely an interesting form of dining out. With a bit of mystery, because you don’t know what exactly you will end up having for dinner – it makes it more exciting. There is also a kind of networking and meeting interesting people factor (that night we were seated around two big tables) which adds to the experience.
Follow Chef Tamaki on facebook: facebook.com/cheftamaki
I was attending this event as an invited guest. All opinions, as always, are my own and are not influenced by sponsors.