People are getting fatter. It’s just a fact. Our lives have never been more sedentary, our diets have never been higher in fat, and the results are more unhealthy people. A lot of this has to do with the prevalence and affordability of unhealthy fast foods.
But there’s a man with a plan to try to turn these trends around. He also happens to have a couple of Michelin stars to his name.
Best recognised for his unique and avant-garde sense of culinary style, Chef Makoto Okamoto grew up in a family of food in Nagaoka City in Niigata Prefecture, where his father runs a sushi restaurant. His culinary education included some of the finest French and Japanese restaurants in the world and led him to open La Bombance in Nishi-Azabu in 2004. Chef Okamoto has since opened two more restaurants—in Tokyo and Hong Kong—serving seasonal set menus that continue to wow diners.
The new style of Japanese fast food
Chef Okamoto loves traditional Japanese food and wanted a way to serve the people of Japan a healthy and delicious meal every day for an affordable price. Dashi—a Japanese stock—is one of the cornerstones of traditional Japanese cooking and a fantastic source of nutrients. Dashi can be made from kombu (dried kelp), katsuobushi (dried and smoked bonito/skipjack tuna that is shaved into thin flakes), iriko or niboshi (anchovies/sardine), or a combination of them.
It is not, however, particularly easy to make, and many Japanese have started to shy away from it as their lives get busier and busier. Luckily for the Japanese, there was a chef with a Michelin star and his younger brother who were keen to fill this growing dashi void.
More soup for you!
So Dashi+ was born and their delicious soup started being sold to the masses. The brothers’ dashi—made with mostly dried bonito from Makurazaki in the Kagoshima prefecture with a pinch of dried mackerel and dried sardine—is artfully crafted and served with only the freshest and tastiest veggies.
Temperature and the salinity of the soup are closely monitored to maintain the perfect balance and flavour, and to keep consistency in the product. Both are monitored by the chef on duty, who tastes the dashi regularly to make sure it’s up to scratch.
Strictly following chef Makoto Okamoto’s dashi recipe, Dashi+ brews a new batch of soup every day, with 3 delicious varieties available—traditional Japanese dashi, curry dashi and chicken dashi.
The dashi is then matched with whatever veggies are in season and in conjunction with a nutritionist to guarantee you’re getting more than just a big flavour kick when you dig into a bowl.
Only the best noodles of course
No delicious and nutritious soup would be complete without some noodles, and somen noodles from Shimabara in the Nagasaki prefecture are Chef Okamoto’s favourite. They’re delicious and high in collagen, which helps in the building of skin cells. So not only are you eating a delicious meal, you’re helping your complexion!
All the soups are customizable: You can choose which dashi, veggies and noodles to use! Our intrepid eater had a personal recommendation from the restaurant manager Mr Manabu Okamoto himself, and it was the traditional Japanese dashi, the premium veg and the Shimabara somen. And it was thumbs up all round!
The younger brother of a Michelin star chef comes with some pressure, but the younger Okamoto has a pretty decent culinary resume himself. A hugely experienced chef with loads of experience in traditional Japanese foods like ramen and soba, he was caught up by his brother’s vision for healthy and fast Japanese food and decided to take it over.
Since opening in August 2018, the popularity of the shop continues to grow, but the brothers are aiming big. With the Tokyo Olympics coming up in 2020, the younger Okamoto sees it as a huge chance to not only grow their brand but to introduce the wonders of traditional Japanese dashi to the world.
Who knows if Dashi+ is ready to hit Australian shores anytime soon, but if you’re planning to visit Tokyo, make sure you stop by!
Akasaka Biz Tower B1 F 5-3-1 Akasaka Minato-ku, Tokyo