What is going to change at Youmiko under your reign?
First of all, we will be concentrating more on the seasonal products. I have initiated restaurant’s co-operation with the farm of Majlert and Rutkowski families (Pan Ziółko). Seasonal food is the fundament of the vegan cuisine and I put much emphasize on respecting seasonality. I would also like to organise more Japanese cuisine events, but not only related to sushi. I am planning to start them in autumn. I have also introduced to Youmiko the tastiest vegan ice cream Syrenka. Together with Vegan Ramen Shop and Michał Majewski from Syrenka ice cream, we have created an ice cream collaboration called Japanese Vegan Summer!
So far, you have mostly worked with European flavours. How long did it take you to train for taking over an Asian restaurant? What did you have to learn?
I love Asian food, and luckily, I have been working with it for a long time. I often cook Asian food at home. Nevertheless, the Japanese cuisine is very special; the sushi itself is not an easy art to learn. Fortunately, Youmiko’s father Paweł Gnatowski placed great trust in me and patiently explained to me the secrets of a making perfect rolls. Japanese cuisine is about simplicity and minimalism, blended with the incredible richness of flavors, including the unchangeably fashionable umami.
Seasonal vegetables are at the core of vegan sushi, what’s on at the moment?
Summer is the best moment to make sushi as we have wonderful, ripe tomatoes, green peas, corn, kohlrabi, broad beans, sprouting broccoli, young chard leaves, young pea sprouts and fantastic salads. Something new pops up all the time and our team just wonders whether we should marinate it, fry it in tempura or just eat it raw.
You have also introduced chirashi lunch bowls, what’s inside?
Chirashi is sushi deconstructed, it is a bowl of rice with ingredients we typically put inside the rolls. I try to change the composition every two weeks so that our guests won’t get bored J. The basic flavours of chirashi are sweet, salty, sour, spicy, and obviously umami, for example in edamame in sesame miso, tempura vegetables, quick pickles, red cabbage with chilli and a bit of toasted nori!
Still, sushi must be the number 1 choice – nigiri, uramaki, futomaki, hosomaki or temari? Which of them are most popular and what fillings are the latest hit?
Temari with pink oyster mushrooms and seaweed caviar! Yesterday I brought around oyster mushrooms from Tomek, from Dąbrówka and we immediately threw them onto the frying pan. Surprisingly, we found out that the frying mushrooms were giving the smell of… langoustines! And that’s not according to my vegan taste! It was an opinion of a person, who does eat the seafood. We are still pretty impressed with this discovery.
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