********** Yoshinori Ishii Executive chef of Japanese restaurant UMU in London ******************
------------------ 英国の日本料理店 UMU 総料理長 石井義典 のつれづれなる話 ------------


Real Japanese Wagyu Arrive! 日本産和牛輸入解禁!

Until now, an importation of foreign meat was nonexistent, due to strict regulations casted upon based on EU standards, including on Japanese ingredients. However, an importation of Japanese wagyu beef was just made available, and since the preparation period, as one of the Japanese culinary expart based in the Britain, had myself involved in the project upon requests from several organisations. Consequently, the Japanese wagyu beef finally came on to our menu at UMU, and the feedbacks have been more than satisfactory so far.

A short while back, a press release event was held at the residence of Japanese Ambassador, also served as an introductory party to domestic culinary professionals. Chefs from the MARC company had teamed up with the resident chef to prepare a menu to match the remarkable occasion. Presitigious steak cooked just right by the resident chef, carpaccio by the company's French restaurant "Greeenhouse" team, a roast beef by chefs from the members' club Morton's and beef tataki prepared by the UMU team including myself; the event concluded with great outcomes.

The obstacless that have to be cleared in order to create stable demands for the Japanese wagyu are still piling up; red meat serving as the mainstream within Europe culture, marking distinction from foreign branded beefs, unstable thus unreliable exportation from the producers’ side, and competitions between production districts, to name a few. Nonetheless, the ultimate hurdle that matters to me the most, to create a rejoicing experience for guests, has surely been cleared already.


先日、現地のプレスリリースと飲食関係者への紹介を兼ねて大使公邸でイベントがあり、当社の複数のレストランが大使公邸の料理人さんと共同で和牛料理を作ってきました。公邸料理人さんによるステーキ、フレンチレストラン“Green house”によるカルパッチョ、会員制クラブ“Morton”によるローストビーフ、当店UMUによるタタキなど、大盛況のうちに終わりました。



First hanting in Cornwall 初めての狩猟

Game is often featured in the menu at the restaurant during the months between Autumn and Winter, the ingredient I adore and caught using Western tradition. Most come from huntsmen in Cornwall, however depending on the type of game, come occasionally from Northern Britain or European countries nearby.
Grasping the last chance before British’s bird hunting season closes at the end of January, Geoff, one of the supervising personnel over fishermen and huntsmen of Cornwall, generously took me along to hunting. Between his busy days as a president of family-owned company mainly dealing fish and game, also a reliable supplier of Umu, Geoff travels, sometimes miles and miles, to enjoy hunting every Monday.
Left his St. Ives home in the morning and headed to hunting spot nearby Dartmoor National Park, where we were joined by his hunting crew.  I, being totally unaware of manner or method of hunting, was surprised by the size of the pack and number of hunting dogs that they brought along.
After a short briefing, we split into groups of beaters and shooters, and beaters would hustle game out of woods located between meadows, moving into the woods from each boarder. Shooters would wait patiently for an alarmed bird to fly out with a shotgun in their hands, and at a moment of opportunity, aim and shoot.
It was after we had passed through several woods, Geoff offered me to join the shooters. In spite of my love for fishing and number of experience catching various fish, I had never killed game with my own hands before and I, quite naturally, felt uneasy stepping into new field. Nonetheless, new experience is always a blessing and I decided to take up the challenge.
I fired a shot into the air, my very first shot, to try and learn the correct posture as well as how to handle a gun. A female pheasant flew up towards my direction being chased by the hunting dog, instantly I aimed (at least I tried) then I fired my second shot.  Without a hassle, the pheasant continued to fly away, with the dog also still running after the bird. Geoff said the shot I fired had grazed its back, to which I laughed assuming he joked out of kindness not to disappoint me, but next moment the hunting dog came back with a pheasant in its mouth. As I had never imagined I could make a hit on my first trial, I was both shocked and overwhelmed.
Along the while, Geoff educated me on the method of traditional British hunting, the state of Royal family-owned forests, and a system that can preserve the nature and the hunting culture to coexist with it. He, by including humors here and there, simplified his words for me to understand better.

In the end, we caught several pheasants, pigeons, woodcocks/beccases and snipes. The catch was unexpected success despite our assumption based on the closing of season and the unpleasant weather.

After returning to St. Ives, I was invited to join a birthday party hosted by Naomi, Geoff’s daughter who also sends us fish on daily basis to Umu, for her husband at her home. Geoff looked blessed surrounded by members of heartwarming family and relatives enjoying Naomi’s delicious homemade food, and I had such blessed experience. 



朝、St.Ives の彼の自宅から出発Dartmoor National parkのそばの狩猟場所に到着し、彼の狩猟仲間と合流しました。猟の仕方など何も聞いていなかったので人数の多さと連れてきている猟犬の数に驚きました。




最終的には多くのキジ(pheasant)、山鳩(pigeon)、ヤマシギ(Woodcock, Beccase)、シギ(Snipe)が獲れました。シーズン最後で天気も非常に悪かったので皆あまり期待していなかった割には大収穫でした。




Fish Fish Fish! 北大西洋の魚たち

Almost 2 years have passed since I began dealing personally and directly with domestic fishermen, and over the course, we have built a great relationship to an extent that, time to time, they would send me rare fish that are accidently caught to give me enchanting surprises.

Finding a joy in encountering new delicious fish, having a laugh at funny looking ones, and being amazed by the fish’s completely unfamiliar taste despite its similarity in looks to those found in the Pacific Ocean near Japan; these occasional gifts brings amusements and excitements to me and the team between our hectic days at work. Moreover, I feel most delighted that our discoveries of new fish and its characters enable us to bring better experience to guests.

On the other hand, those fish much alike to or of the family of gadid that are often seen on fishing boats, though diverse preparations have been tried, are yet to be perfected for us to present to the guests. One by one, I wish to overcome this new challenge.
I am always thankful for the blessings of the sea and the fishermen who courageously continue to challenge unpredictable nature of the sea.



2nd pop up restaurant in Frieze Master 2013

 Following last year, Frieze Masters art fair was held at Regent’s Park once again and Umu has also successfully showcased pop-up restaurant for the second time within its site. The preparation had begun few months back, and this time around, a team of apprentices took initiatives and showed potential leadership, which led us to great prosperity. To acquire fish of the same standard of quality as those used at the restaurant daily, but doubled or tripled in quantity, was not only difficult but, combined with the unfortunate weather from the middle of the week, became an almost impossible request for the fishermen to meet. However, by the supports from many, we have overcome these 6 days soundly and with huge accomplishments.
I would like to thank again, as I had also expressed in the previous year, to producers& merchants who continue to support us on daily basis, staff of Marc restaurant who flexibly familiarized themselves with serving Japanese cuisine in an also unfamiliar setting, and finally, Umu staff who, by cooperating with one another, carried out hard work at both the pop-up site and the restaurant. Thank you. 

 昨年に引き続き、Frieze Master art fair Regent Parkにて行われ、UMUにとって二度目となるポップアップレストランが終了しました。数ヶ月前から準備を始めましたが、今年は二度目だけあって若手のチームが率先してリーダーシップを発揮し、大盛況に終わりました。Mayfairのお店で使われている魚と全く同じレベルのものを普段の数倍の量揃えるのは大変で、さらに週の半ばからの悪天候になって漁師の方には無理を言いましたが、多くの方の協力もあって無事6日間が終了しました。
 いつもご協力いただいている生産者、業者の方々、初めての日本料理のサービスを、初めての場所で臨機応変に手伝ってくれたMarc restaurantのスタッフ、そしてお店とポップアップレストランの両方を掛け持ちで協力し合ってくれたUMUの全てのスタッフに感謝、感謝の1週間でした。