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Home > CHEF SECRETS > Las Vegas Chef Secrets > Masa Takayama (Secrets Behind His Restaurants)


The Secrets Behind Masa Takayama's Restaurants

Chef/Creator Masayoshi Takayama

TravelsinTaste had the distinct pleasure of attending a seven-course dinner created by the maestro himself, Masa Takayama, arguably the world's most famous sushi chef. Chef Takayama has humble roots, but they’ve served him well, as he’s earned three Michelin stars. “I try to bring Japanese old-style cuisine into today’s new-style cuisine," he told us. "That’s my passion.” In addition to that passion, TravelsinTaste spoke with Chef Takayama about the dinner he prepared for us, the secrets behind his restaurant and the new restaurant he's opening in New York. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Shaboo is now closed and has been replaced with his latest concept, Tetsu. A second Tetsu will soon open in New York City's Tribeca neighborhood.]

TravelsinTaste: The dinner was amazing. Every element was a piece of art and each dish tasted better than the last. What was your inspiration for the menu?

Masa Takayama: Thank you very much. The first dish, the hairy crab (Kegani), was very simple. Nothing special. Only the ingredients -- beautiful crab, gently [dressed with] vinaigrette. The second dish, Toro Tartare with Caviar, I designed a long time ago. Toro tartare [sits] underneath the caviar. The Toro fat melts very easily on a human's tongue. Tuna fat and beef fat melt at totally different temperatures in the human body. Caviar goes on to bridge the fattiness; the fatty Toro tuna adds to the caviar's saltiness and is nice and tasty on the tongue. It creates a nice flavor from the caviar. That is one of my signature dishes. Third was the trigger fish with the white truffle sauce on top (Kawahagi). I designed this dish four years ago when I was in Central Park in New York. It was the beginning of fall and the leaves were falling. I wanted to bring this beauty into my dishes. That inspired me about the third dish. The Matsutaki mushroom soup is in season right now. They only grow by the red pine tree. That's why they are called Matsutaki. "Matsu" means "pine."

TravelsinTaste: Most, if not all, of your fish is imported overnight from a Tokyo market. You have the freshest fish. Do you import anything else in such a special way?

Masa Takayama: Actually, we follow the eight different seasons. After summer there's a beginning-of-fall season, and the next two weeks are completely-fall season before wintertime season. It's coming soon. In almost two- to three-week cycles we are changing all of our menu. That's the most exciting part.

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