From Kyoto to Bali: Cultural Connections through Aman's Restaurant Takeovers
by Anton D. Javier 19 Sep 2023
Executive Chef Shinichiro Takagi of Aman Kyoto's Taka-An recently took over Amankila and Amandari's restaurants, signalling the luxury hospitality brand's further exploration of culinary-driven experiences.
Diving head first into this trend is Aman, the revered global property brand that’s celebrated for peace, privacy, and unparalleled levels of luxury hospitality.
From 4-8 September, a thread was woven through three iconic Aman properties, where Executive Chef Shinichiro Takagi of Aman Kyoto’s Taka-An did a restaurant takeover at the brand’s two Bali resorts – Amankila in East Bali and Amandari in Ubud.
Shojiro Shichikuro, Taka-An's Assistant Manager and Sommelier
The dinners, which were held for two nights at each resort, featured a 9-course kaiseki style menu that offered a magical opportunity to savor the flavors of Japanese culinary mastery in the serene setting of East Bali and Ubud. Further enriching the dining experience was an alcohol pairing comprised of champagne, sake, white wine, and red wine, which was expertly curated by Shojiro Shichikuro, Taka-An’s Assistant Manager and Sommelier.
The first dinner at Amankila was a celebration of the resort's seaside location and the region’s produce, where simple yet elegant dishes utilized fresh seafood like sea urchin in the sesame tofu appetizer, lobster miso soup in the Wanmori course, and fresh tuna in the Tsukuri course.
Meanwhile, the Hashiyasume course, which featured three small bites, was a study in textures and restrained flavors, comprised of ingredients like watercress, raw scallop and caviar, as well as jellyfish dressed in a piquant sesame sauce.
“To be honest, I had no idea what kind of local ingredients I’d be able to get my hands on,” Chef Takagi admitted. “But because we had several meetings with the chefs at both properties, they were instrumental in giving me ideas on what was available, as well as adequate information to help me conceptualize the menu.”
Over at Amandari, the menu consisted of dishes that celebrated Ubud’s bounties. “Here, I was able to incorporate locally sourced ingredients like yam, eggplants, and even local chicken,” shared Chef Takagi.
The Hashiyasume course presented in this menu was comprised of eggplants, zucchini, and taro, cooked tempura style, and finished with a light dashi broth and grated ginger. As for the main course, tender local chicken breast was served with simple accompaniments of spinach, carrots, freshly grated wasabi, and finished with Jibuni sauce – a thick Kanazawa-style gravy comprised of miso, soy sauce, and dashi.
For a satisfying and comforting end to the meal, we were presented with steamed sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves, studded with fresh prawn, yam, ginkgo nuts, and shiitake mushrooms.
"Each dinner location had its own character, but because it’s under the Aman umbrella, I really felt a special connection.” - Chef Shinichiro Takagi
“Through this restaurant takeover, we were excited to provide guests with an unforgettable dining experience which we hope will leave an impression of a lifetime,” said Chef Takagi. He added, “I had a very good experience from this collaboration. It was amazing to have guests from the US, Europe, and all around Asia coming together and enjoying Japanese food and flavors. I did my best for these dinners and I felt a certain special engagement with these guests because of the link with the Aman brand name. Each dinner location had its own character, but because it’s under the Aman umbrella, I really felt a special connection.”
Tell us about your first time visiting Bali. Any special memories? This is my second time visiting Bali. The first time I was here was about seven or eight years ago as a tourist and I stayed for only two nights. I had some business in Jakarta and had a few days off, which is why I decided to visit at the last minute. Since then, I’ve been wanting to come back. It’s always exciting for me to be here.
Have you tried Indonesian, particularly Balinese, cuisine before? What flavors/ingredients stood out to you that you enjoyed the most? I don’t remember exactly what I ate on my previous visit, but I always try to eat something local. Sometimes it would be a little too spicy for me, but I really enjoyed it. As for ingredients and flavors, I found lemongrass, herbs, and local spices to be very memorable.
If given the chance to do this again, which Aman property would you like to cook at next? The first one that comes to mind is Amanpuri, which is the first Aman property. I would like to visit first and the cooking can come later. That’s the origin of the brand, so I feel like I should visit to know more about Aman's history.