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Food: You say Kobe, I say Saga

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PHUKET: Have you ever heard of Saga beef? Most of us haven’t. Many of us, though, are familiar with Kobe beef – if not with its fabled flavor, than at least with its lore, which tells of pampered cows enjoying lives filled with Beethoven’s symphonies, gentle massages and buckets of sake before they meet their fate at the slaughter house.

“Everybody knows Kobe beef as the best beef in the world, but if you ask what my favorite beef is, I say Saga,” says chef Norio Nomoto of JW Marriott Bangkok.

Chef Nomoto recently visited JW Marriott Phuket to join forces with chef Hiromi Nakabaru, from Saga Prefecture in Japan, to present a special Saga Beef Promotion Menu at Kabuki restaurant.

“Saga beef is no less delicious than Kobe beef, it’s just less well known. Kobe has a brand, but Saga tastes very similar and is less expensive,” explains chef Nomoto.

This last characteristic of Saga beef, its attractive price tag – at least when compared to the skyrocketing prices of Kobe – is a flavor to savor.

Saga beef is characterized by the same wonderful flavor and texture as Kobe. All thanks to Japanese cattlemen who take great care to keep their cows in good spirits, as well as feed them the best available food and drink. Such well-nourished, relaxed and happy cows produce meet of unrivaled quality, explains chef Nomoto.

If there is a beef that melts in ones mouth, it has to be wagyu, which composes several breeds of Japanese cow that are genetically predisposed to intense marbling.

Saga beef proves itself a good cut of wagyu at the Kabuki restaurant, as it comes straight off a simmering hot Japanese teppan grill before being served with a hint of mustard sauce.

“Saga beef has a very nice flavor that opens up in your mouth. I recommend not using too much seasoning; salt and pepper is enough,” chef Nomoto explains, when asked about the best way to prepare a Saga steak.

In fact, the same can be said about Japanese cuisine in general. Of course it has its tricks and advanced techniques, but what’s at its heart are quality ingredients. If you have the best beef, the best pork or the best seafood at your disposal, there isn’t much left for the chef to do but to serve it fresh and clean.

And that’s exactly what chefs at Kabuki do. While they are no strangers to showmanship at the teppan, which involves sharp blades and seemingly out-of-control flames, what ends up on the guests’ plates is an ode to unadulterated food.

Saga Beef Promotion Menu priced at 3800 ++ baht is available until the end of January at JW Marriot Phuket’s Kabuki restaurant. For bookings call 076 338-000 ext. 3748.

— Maciek Klimowicz

 

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