Kunio Tokuoka is executive chef of Kyoto Kitcho. He was born in 1960, and is the grandson of Mr. Teiichi Yuki, founder of Kitcho. He became a chef at twenty and was sent to work at Kitcho Arashiyama , the flagship restaurant in Kyoto. The restaurant was awarded three Michelin stars, and Hana Kitcho, another in the group, was awarded one star in 2009.
The formal Japanese cuisine we are familiar with today can perhaps be traced to those days after the Meiji era – 1868 to 1912. Another suggestion is that it was born from the haute cuisine of ritualized honzen ryori, the traditional tea ceremony of the Momoyama/Edo era of the 16th to 19th century. Kaiseki is a simplified form of honzen ryori and has grown into a meal of many courses that flows with the seasons by using the best of fresh local ingredients. Kitcho is considered by many inside and outside Japan as that country’s leading classic restaurant. Kitcho, the book, allows us a peek into the philosophy of one of the world’s most respected practitioners of the stylised art of Japanese food.
Chef Kunio Tokuoka has a formidable reputation although his approach to cooking is straightforward. For the first time, the techniques and history of one of the world’s greatest cuisines are presented in stunning fashion. This is without a doubt the most sumptuous book on any cuisine I have ever seen. It will become a treasured tome for any serious chef, a source of endless inspiration for the domestic enthusiast, and a welcome gift for anyone with a love of Japanese perfection. It is nothing short of amazing. Leaf through pages of the best food photography you will ever see. Superb pictures of traditional serving dishes, bowls and architecture. Yes, there are recipes, but this is more the ultimate coffee-table book. It will become your most pawed-over volume for transporting you to an exotic haven of tranquility and culinary contemplation.
Kitcho – Japan’s ultimate dining experience
Author: Kunio Tokuoka
Published by: Kodansha International
Price: £30.00, US $45.00
Asian cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018