This week’s Q&A feature is all about Kaori Simpson from Harajuku Kitchen. We’ve been here a number of times and each time the food is excellent. We’ve asked Kaori a few questions to find out a little bit more about her and also to see what and where she likes to eat.
When did you know you wanted to become a chef?
After working in what I always thought was my dream job after the university I realised that my true passion lay with food and cooking, it’s in my blood after all. My family own an extremely successful restaurant in Tokyo where I grew up and learned some of our oldest family recipes.
What would you say is your signature dish?
Hmm, there are a lot but probably Chawanmushi. It’s a Japanese egg custard dish and is really tasty.
What makes a good dish, great food?
It’s the chef’s heart, determination and good clean ingredients. This ethos is at the heart of everything we do at Harajuku Kitchen.
What inspires you? How do you come up with ideas for the dishes in your restaurant?
My inspiration comes from my home town in Tokyo, the real buzz and umami taste of Japan. My ideas always come from authentic home dishes and family recipes that I add my own flair and style to.
What Scottish ingredients do you love to cook with?
I love using Scottish seafood like Scallops and salmon. The seaweed is great too, so it makes compiling a Japanese menu in Edinburgh relatively easy.
If you could pick only ONE Scottish produced product, what would that be?
Hand-dived King Scallop, without a doubt.
Where do you go when you want to eat at a restaurant?
I regularly go to Bon Vivant; it’s quiet, has a wonderful ambience and the food is delicious.
Do you do the cooking at home?
Yes, always as my husband doesn’t do much! I enjoy it though, so I don’t mind. I find it relaxing.
Have the tastes of customers changed during your career?
Yes, a lot of adult professionals, students and older people who had never previously tried Japanese food have started coming to the restaurant and our stall at the weekend markets. People are certainly becoming more enthusiastic about foreign food, perhaps due to the fact that we live in such a multi-cultural city.
How do you make good sushi?
Good sushi rice, dexterity and patience.
Do you have any tips for budding chefs or restaurateurs?
Just work honestly and enjoy the job. Try challenge yourself at beginning and learn as you go. A kitchen is a learning place, even for human relationships. And remember, you need tolerance and patience.
Well thanks to Kaori for answering our questions. We think you should get yourself up to Harajuku Kitchen and try the dumplings we promise you won’t regret it.