How Kakigori, the sweet Japanese shaved ice, quietly occupied Los Angeles | Leicester

2021-11-11 07:28:54 By : Mr. lou chunhui

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Kakigori has two enemies-time and temperature. "This is a dessert that is sensitive to time and temperature. If you happen to walk away far away, it won't be the dessert 10 minutes ago," said pastry chef Laura Hoang, who made this dessert . Kakigori at the Pearl River Delicatessen in Chinatown.

This Japanese-style dessert made from light and fluffy shaved ice, added with syrup and topped with sweet cream, is especially popular in the warmer months. This dish was originally enjoyed by the elite and has a history of more than a thousand years. This is mentioned in the "Pillow Book" written by the palace maid of the Heian period, Kiyo Akane in the 9th century. Early versions used crushed plums and honey. In the late 1800s, Japan started collecting ice and opened the first kakigori store in Yokohama in 1872.

In Los Angeles, desserts are still rare. In June of this year, rumors of local kakigori pop-up shops began to appear on Instagram, tempting us with the cold vision of this short-lived hospitality. What is behind this sudden surge? In this case, you can trace it back to one person-Naoto Yonezawa.

The 35-year-old Yonezawa is a creative marketer who is truly passionate about sharing Japanese culture with the rest of the world. Before joining the world of high-end ice cubes, he worked for a Japanese food and beverage distributor for 13 years. In 2018, he took on a new role and established the American branch of Kuramoto Ice, a Japanese company founded in 1923. Headquartered in Kanazawa, it is famous for its ultra-transparent, slowly melting ice obtained through constant stirring and slow melting. Freeze water for a long time. According to Kuramoto, this process prevents impurities.

Cocktail lover Yonezawa was disappointed with the ice he tried in America. "The drinking culture here is different," Yonezawa said. Initially, he focused on selling ice cubes to bars, but when the COVID-19 pandemic closed most of the puddles, he had to reconsider his plan.

Yonezawa believes that the best way to display Kuramoto ice is kakigori. But not just any kakigori. He wants to reflect the kakigori that this dish has changed in the past ten years.

In Japan, kakigori has evolved from simple shaved ice that relies on artificial flavoring and colored syrups to handmade foods made with ingredients such as dashi strawberries, premium chocolate, and yuzu cheesecake. Sometimes it imitates popular desserts such as Mont Blanc, a dessert of sugar and chestnut puree.

"I don't really want to sell to [just] Japanese restaurants, because if I try to sell kakigori to Japanese restaurants, they will think of 20-year-old kakigori using commercially made syrup. Instead, I tried to start the United States from scratch," Yonezawa said .

When Yonezawa promoted the concept to Japanese restaurants in Los Angeles, they resisted. They hope to reduce costs by using cheap ice cubes and syrup. Yonezawa's kakigori project is both an exercise to justify the cost of ice shipped from Japan and a way to provide curious diners with a modern kakigori experience. Putting bottled syrup on Kuramoto's ice is like pouring ketchup on wagyu steak. So Yonezawa found a chef, thinking that they would be creative in the ingredients and come up with game combinations.

He hosted his first pop-up store at Suzuya Patisserie in Las Vegas in April 2021. People are attracted by the fluffy shaved ice featuring matcha and red beans.

Kakigori is not impossible to find in Southern California. High-end restaurants Majordomo and Nobu have been offering it for several years. But Yonezawa’s pop-up shop showcases a wider desire for this dish and an untapped curiosity about its origin. They are also an effort of food diplomacy. Yonezawa compares kakigori with another Japanese dish that has flourished in the United States over the past decade.

"Japanese persimmons are very unique in texture. I think the current carnival mainly comes from [its appearance] and Instagram posts [but there is still a long way to go before people realize the real persimmon experience. Just like 10 years ago Ramen, people know what it looks like, but most people don’t know what a real good ramen tastes like," Yonezawa said.

Since May, Yonezawa has set up at least six kakigori pop-up stores in Los Angeles and surrounding areas-in Anajak Thai, Wanderlust Creamery, Yojimbo and Champions. At Anajak in Sherman Oaks, Yonezawa collaborated with chef Justin Pichetrungsi to develop a mango sticky rice kakigori featuring salted coconut cream and sweet mango puree. People queued up for two hours to get one.

"I want people to have a legitimate kakigori experience. I have tried a lot of bad versions that disappoint people, so I hope restaurants and business owners will start to provide real modern kakigori," Yonezawa said.

You can also find kakigori at Katsu Sando in Chinatown throughout the year, famous for its extraordinary katsu sandwiches, rice balls and curry plates. Chef and owner Daniel Son lives and works in Japan, where he fell in love with yoshoku (western food) and conbinis, this Japanese convenience store is known for selling quality food and snacks.

"This is the kind of blue-collar food and soul food your parents make at home," the son said.

Katsu Sando’s menu already pays homage to comfort food, so kakigori is the perfect complement. The son was impressed by Yonezawa's ice demonstration and decided to pull the trigger. He bought the Swan electric ice shaver from Kuramoto and ordered 60 pounds of ice from the company every week. He jokingly called their ice cube "The Tesseract".

The first kakigori served by Katsu Sando in July 2021 is a pile of soft ice covered with watermelon syrup and cream soaked with lime, placed on a bed of watermelon balls and placed in a small hollow watermelon. Its subtle, sweet and creamy flavor makes it an ideal way to cool down in the sultry summer.

In his next iteration, Son was inspired by his Korean tradition and childhood consumption of Binggrae banana milk and doughnuts. He used fresh banana milk syrup and banana pudding, layered with ice tape, and topped with grilled meringue, pudding banana and prickly pie crust to make banana milk cream pie kakigori.

"I think what excites us is trying to recreate or reimagine the things we grew up. It's a bit like Ratatouille moments [where] nostalgia and smell are hit, they remind you of memories," Son said.

This is a kakigori full of intentions. Banana pudding is as good as anything you find in top soul food stores, caramel bananas have a layer of glass sugar. But the real fun is to feel the crunch of sugar crystals when you bite into the burnt meringue.

The latest version of Katsu Sando, figs and ricotta cheese kakigori, featuring fluffy ice cubes, coated with dark brown figs and wine syrup, topped with plenty of homemade raw ricotta cheese, topped with aged balsamic glaze, and finally figs . The word unconventional does not begin to describe it.

In the nearby Pearl River Delta, a modern Cantonese and Pan-Asian restaurant, chef Johnny Lee has been playing with kakigori on the menu for years. In 2021, he took the risk to buy an ice shaver.

He collaborated to make kakigori recipes with the help of pastry chef Hoang. She has worked in professional kitchens for nearly ten years and opened her own family bakery in 2020. After the death of George Floyd, Hoang started baking to raise funds for Black Lives Matter. In addition to PRD, you can also find her pastries at Thank You Coffee and the pop-up Quarantine Pizza Co.

Lee and Hoang developed eight kakigori flavors for the Pearl River Delta, from mango peach to Hong Kong milk tea. It is not easy to make this dish.

One of kakigori's tricks is to learn how to make ice. Yonezawa emphasized the importance of keeping the ice cubes at room temperature before shaving. During the development phase, Hoang also learned that she must take into account the outdoor and kitchen temperature and the time it takes for people to eat.

"Finding out this process is its own journey. Ice is really precious. I want to respect and respect it. What is the ideal temperature of this piece of ice to achieve the best shave results? [This] is the question I just asked. I know. I really have to think about it in the first few weeks before we start using it," Hoang said.

Hoang and Lee's first kakigori collaboration featured mangoes, peaches and cool coconut cream. It was a blizzard of sweet and sour fruits, with soft icebergs covered in smooth cream. Their follow-up action used pluot, whipped cream and brown bread ice cream from Scoops. For Hong Kong milk tea kakigori, Hoang and Lee wanted to pay tribute to the shaved ice of Chinchikurin, an okonomiyaki expert. They spread cream cheese foam on the snow ice, added sugar with Hong Kong milk tea syrup, added more foam and topped with brown sugar syrup.

"It has a lot of nuances, but at the same time, it uses syrup to shave the ice. We are using real fruit puree, but still trying to maintain the truly associative taste," Hoang said.

In mid-September, the Pearl River Delta launched a two-week Hawaiian cuisine and limited edition lilikoi strawberry kakigori, featuring bright yellow passion fruit syrup, strawberry slices and condensed milk. This is a blow. Despite the success, Lee decided to temporarily stop making kakigori. The Pearl River Delta's current location in the Far East Plaza will be closed at the end of October, and he plans to open a new and larger location in Chinatown. When it opens, it is hoped that in early 2022, Lee and Hoang plan to serve kakigori again.

Like many dishes, kakigori is a blank slate where chefs can go crazy. In Los Angeles, we have only just begun to try its possibilities. As for Kuramoto Ice's agenda is to make kakigori appear on the map (and sell more luxury ice)? "I'm here," Hoang said.

Son added: "I am glad that the term kakigori has become more and more familiar. I think this is the goal of all of us."

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