ASIATE | New York City
Born in Japan, Nori started working in a restaurant in Tokyo
at the age of 15 to support his passion as a guitar player.
After training in his native country, he explored the classic
French techniques while working at various Michelin-starred
restaurants in Bordeaux. The next stop on his culinary odyssey
was America – working as chef de partie at Charlie Trotter’s
in Chicago. Moving half-way around the world again, he worked
for renowned chef Tetsuya Wakuda in Sydney, Australia before
opening his own Restaurant VII in Sydney. Now as chef de cuisine
for Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental, New York, Sugie’s
menu reflects his own harmonious synthesis of French and Japanese
Scallop Tartare, Fennel
Crushed Rice Crackers
Chef Nori Sugie of Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental
Hotel - New York, NY
Adapted by StarChefs.com
Yield: 4 Servings
- 4 Hokkaido scallops, small dice
- ¼ asian pear, small dice
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon chives, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon hazelnut oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 medium fennel
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1/3 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 Tablespoon white wine
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Tablespoon crushed Rice crackers
Combine scallops and pear with shallot, ginger and chives.
Add olive oil, hazelnut oil and salt and pepper to taste.
Mix all ingredients very well and reserve.
Thin slice the fennel bulb and sweat in vegetable oil. Add
heavy cream, chicken stock, fennel seeds, white wine and salt
and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat until fennel is
tender. Remove from heat and blend until smooth. Keep refrigerated.
Place one Tablespoon of scallop tartare in a shot glass. Top
with a teaspoon of fennel cream and finish with a sprinkle
of crushed rice cracker.
SC: What’s a favorite
ingredient of yours at the moment?
NS: Agar-agar: a seaweed
that we use to set things like a gelatin.
SC: What’s your
most indispensable kitchen tool?
NS: My Misono knife.
I use one knife for everything.
SC: Is there any technique
or method you use in an unusual way?
NS: I liquefy foie gras
and set it with agar seaweed. I cut and plate it then put
sugar on top, torch it just before service for a foie gras
SC: Is there a place
you want to travel for culinary research purposes?
NS: Turkey: I heard
it’s beautiful. Great architecture, food and spices.
Brazil has a growing Japanese community. Its mix of culture
is interesting to me.
SC: What are your favorite
home-cooked comfort foods?
NS: Soup and noodles,
SC: As a musician does
music influence your cooking? Do you listen to music in the
NS: Music is about harmony
and I try for harmony in my dishes and in the kitchen with
flavors. No music is allowed in our kitchens--hotel rules.
But, I would listen to rock for prep and classical for service.
SC: How is it being
a chef in New York as opposed to other cities you worked in?
NS: There’s more
freedom. Anything you want to create, you can do it in New
York. Also, the line cooks and workers are highly skilled
and very creative.
SC: What do you think
about the quality of Japanese food in New York?
NS: I like ramen noodles
late at night. Japanese is very local, sharing dishes. I like
Kenka and Yakitori Taisho.
SC: Where do you see
yourself in five years? Ten?
NS: Same job: maybe
working on a cookbook. I love cooking. I also like kitchen
and restaurant design; new concepts.
SC: Do you find New
York and the Amanda Hessers of the world tougher than most
NS: The media is very
powerful in New York. This is a tough place; lots of politics.
Her review was a bit shocking, but hasn’t affected business;
we’re very busy every night. With restaurant reviews,
everybody has their favorites. In New York there’s no
scale. In France they have criteria. Here the judging is out
of control. If you look at Michelin and James Beard--there’s
too much power with one person. It’d be better if many
people made the decisions.