On 9 October 2013, Shangri-La's Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Taipei will present the rebranded ibuki by TAKAGI KAZUO on the seventh floor. It will be Taiwan's first and only restaurant to partner with a Michelin-starred Japanese chef – Chef Takagi Kazuo, owner and head chef of the Michelin two-starred Takagi. The Japanese restaurant will feature authentic and traditional flavors of Kyo-ryori, or Kyoto cuisine, serving in-season dishes that unfold and celebrate cultural tales. A la carte and set menus will be available. For reservations, please call (886 2) 2376 3241 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"True Kyoto cuisine is rare even in Japan nowadays, since preparation is complicated; but I want it to continue its long history, and I especially wish to share it with guests in Taiwan as I know Taiwanese diners have high appreciation for Japanese food," said Chef Takagi.
Chef Takagi has designed a selection of options, such as the gozen "on a tray" lunch set and many kaiseki dinner menus, to cater to guests with different dining purposes. He creates all of the dishes, using only the freshest ingredients, with "season, festivity, and innovation" in mind and prepares them with great "taste, harmony and care."
Soup is symbolic of Chef Takagi's cuisine. According to him, the taste and aroma of a soup characterizes one's culinary style and defines a restaurant's personality. The soul of the soup is what Chef Takagi refers to as the "number one broth," cooked with kelp from cold seawater in northern Japan and bonito – dried tuna flakes – from Kyushu. Chef Takagi only selects bonito that is half a millimeter thick because it is heavy enough to sink through without external handling; a broth is at its best condition when stirring does not take place, the chef said. The kelp Chef Takagi uses, called Laminaria japonica, is only retrievable in warmer months when the seawater's temperature becomes tolerable. Many chefs no longer practice this soup-making method due to high food cost and lack of patience.
The hassun – the intermission platter of assorted items – is also a significant essence of his cuisine. It highlights items from the sea and land, and features the concept of mitame – when ingredients are used for an imitation of another item. For example, Chef Takagi made salmon sushi ball topped with fried seaweed to mimic a mini persimmon, an autumn fruit.
Newly appointed Japanese Head Chef Kudo Masakazu of ibuki by TAKAGI KAZUO was the sous chef of Takagi in Kobe, west of Osaka, Japan, prior to moving to Taipei in August 2013. Chef Kudo is stationed in Taiwan to lead and train the culinary team. He is also responsible for daily culinary operations, playing the chief role in carrying on philosophies and the food spirit of Chef Takagi. In addition, three chefs from Taipei travelled to Japan and trained at Takagi for three months; the training continues with all the chefs at ibuki by TAKAGI KAZUO.
"We are excited to have Chef Kudo join us, and I look forward to welcoming guests to enjoy food prepared by him and the well-trained team. Under the guidance of Chef Takagi, I believe ibuki by TAKAGI KAZUO will add depth to the Japanese culinary scene in town," said General Manager Marcel N.A. Holman of Shangri-La's Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Taipei.
Takagi has received two Michelin stars since the first Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara version of the Michelin Guide was published in 2010, when Chef Takagi was only 38 years old, for four successive years. Although he stepped into the culinary world relatively late at the age of 23, considering most recognized Japanese chefs start before college, around 18 years old, Chef Takagi prevailed with talent and great passion.
A famous celebrity, Chef Sanagi Takeshi, who is now 86 years old, has played an important role in shaping Chef Takagi’s career path. The chef specializes in, and is most well known for, Kyo-ryori. Through mastering the cooking techniques with the master, Chef Takagi learned to appreciate the beauty of the long-established cuisine.
Open 365 days a year, ibuki by TAKAGI KAZUO serves lunch and dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 6 to 9:30 p.m., respectively. Shangri-La's Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Taipei is located at 201 Tun Hwa South Road, Section 2, Taipei.