This year, Nurdin is taking time to travel and further explore ingredients and food cultures outside of Hong Kong. It is important for chefs to continue to develop one’s ideas and knowledge, to keep educating themselves and their teams, and to progress. He will be in close contact with his chefs to relay inspiration throughout his travels to ensure the menus at NUR continue to embody his philosophy and bring guests invigorating, healthy dishes and ingredients. Read about Nurdin’s #NURonTour travels in Manila, and Noto/Kyoto.
Tokyo is a great city, and I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the Tsujiki fish market, where NUR’s primary fish supplier is, before it relocates. One of the largest fish markets in the world, there are always opportunities to discover new varieties of seafood.
We were given a tour of the seasonal seafood available and stopped at a vendor who demonstrated the technique of Ike-jime, a humane technique used to slaughter larger fish and preserve the meat quality. Using this method, a thin spike is inserted into the brain, causing immediate brain death, then an incision above the tail allows the spike to be inserted a second time into the spinal cord, which destroys the nerves and prevents reflex muscle movement. This is important because reflex muscle movement produces lactic acid, which affects the flavour of the flesh and increasing the rate at which the flesh would deteriorate.
Whilst in Tokyo I got the chance to dine, then work, with Chef Hideki who owns a modern Kaiseki restaurant, where he serves 15 guests a night. It’s an intimate dining experience where he creates delicious dishes utilizing the best seasonal and wild ingredients. It was an honour to be able to spend time in his kitchen with his great team, and to witness a mix of modern and traditional approaches to food. I learnt some brilliant Japanese techniques and we shared recipes over the family-style meal.
Chef Nurdin working with Chef Hideki
Our final meal in Tokyo was with Chef Yosuke Suga, a fellow Krug ambassador and a Japanese iron chef who worked for Joel Robuchon for 17 years. His new restaurant, Sugalabo, has a hidden entrance disguised as a coffee shop, and opens into an intimate dining area where, as a guest, you are literally in the kitchen. The food and service did not disappoint and watching Chef Suga was a masterclass in hospitality.
This is my fourth trip to Japan, and I feel there is still so much left to learn and experience. I will definitely be back and I can’t wait to travel to other parts of Japan. Next on #NURonTour, I’ll be heading to Copenhagen to visit family and friends.
With over 18 years of experience, Chef Nurdin spent time at the Nordic Food Lab, Copenhagen, before founding NUR in 2014. He is now travelling the world for inspiration from local cultures. Follow Chef Nurdin’s journey on #NURonTour and @ntopham on Instagram.