The Capitol Hotel Tokyu, located in the heart of Tokyo, prides itself on offering guests the best homegrown ingredients with its food offering across its three main restaurants. Every year, the chefs at its Chinese restaurant Star Hill head to different locations across the country to discover the very best of what Japan has to offer.
In the second of this series, Executive Chef at the restaurant Noboru Kobayashi takes us through his journey to Oita; a coastal prefecture and hot spring resort on Japan’s Kyushu Island. From Tokyo, Oita is a two hour flight south and is one of the most popular hot spring resorts in the country. Thanks to its warm climate, Oita has an abundance of fresh seafood and citrus such as yuzu and the Hinata pear.
Since chef Noboru joined The Capitol Hotel Tokyu, some 35 years ago when it was the previous hotel, he has worked in its Chinese restaurant called the ‘Star Hill’. Utilising his abundant knowledge about Chinese cuisine and Japanese culture he created a special menu consisting of eight courses cooked with selected ingredients from Oita, such as wagyu beef, raw wood shiitake, maca and kabosu (Citrus sphaerocarpa), for the Oita food fair which was held last winter in the restaurant.
Commenting on his favourite ingredients in Oita Noboru commented: “My favourite dish was the steamed Kabosu-fed Japanese yellowtail with mushroom and garlic chive with hot pepper sauce. When I visited the fish farm in Oita, I was impressed by the Kabosu-fed Japanese yellowtail as it has a citrus node due to the unique feeding process.”
After experiencing all that Oita has to offer, chef Noboru gives his top tips for anyone wanting to visit Oita:
Located in southern Oita, Harajiri Falls are called the “Niagara Falls of Japan” for their unique shape created by the great eruption of Mount Aso over 90,000 years ago. The falls are around 20 meters high and 120 meters wide and seemingly appear out of the blue in the middle of the surrounding flat lands. Noboru’s top tip is to see the falls at night under the stars – a truly magical experience. In fact, the area around the hotel is also a good place for star watching, as it gained a reputation as a scenic spot and was given the name “Hoshigaoka” (Hill of Star). As a result, images of the falls can be seen all around the restaurant.
Oka Castle Ruins
Designated as a National Historic Site, the Oka Castle ruins are popular for the seasonal scenery such as cherry blossom and red leaves. In fact, it was once selected as one of ‘Japan’s Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots’.