On 1 June a new Japanese restaurant opened in via Savona bearing the owner's surname, Hazama.
This is not just any Japanese restaurant, but a sophisticated restaurant offering kaiseki cuisine. This term indicates that fundamental parenthesis of Japanese gastronomy which concerns both the highest expression of traditional cuisine and all the techniques for preparing the ingredients that characterize it. It expresses through numerous small courses, prepared with respect for the seasonality and freshness of the ingredients - this aspect is also underlined by the use of the dishes, which must be in line with the current season (for this reason chef Hazama brought dishes, trays and lacquers in Italy directly from Japan).
Satoshi Hazama, a name that does not sound new to lovers of Japanese cuisine in Milan: discreet and extremely kind, he worked in the kitchens of Yoshinobu, J's Hiro, Pont de Ferr and Sol Levante. In this latter place, Masaki Okada was second of chef, today chef of Kanpai.
Chef Hazama had his first approach with kaiseki cuisine at the Nadaman restaurant in Yokohama, where he worked for five years. In 2010 he moved to Italy, working at the Osteria Profumo Divino, the Antica Corte Pallavicina and the renowned Enoteca Pinchiorri (three Michelin stars).
All these experiences have given the young chef the opportunity to learn about the excellent Italian raw materials that he has decided to introduce into his gastronomic journey, with the result of proposing a correct and delicate combination of flavors and textures.
Due to the Covid-19 emergency the second of chef Hazama is obliged in Japan. In fact, only the chef and Yuko Negishi (ex Wicky's) work in the restaurant, who takes care of the two rooms with an essential, dark and elegant design.
Upon returning from the colleague, the dishes proposed so far will be on the lunch menu, while at dinner it will finally be possible to taste the full kaiseki cuisine (up to a total of nine courses).
The conditions are excellent: from the accuracy of the preparations, to the excellent service offered, everything suggests the best. Making this type of cuisine in Italy is not easy, Hazama San is aware of it:
For years I think I want to open a kaiseki restaurant in Milan. Until two years ago it would have been impossible to make Italians appreciate this type of cuisine but now I think the time is ripe. Of course, Covid-19 doesn't help but I'm very positive.
The gastronomic journey begins with a Japanese potato salad made with basil mayonnaise prepared by the chef, with asparagus, carrot and mortadella. The latter has been inserted instead of cooked ham, to give a more marked and different flavor compared to the traditional potato salad. This dish is light and particularly soft due to the little oil used. It is really delicious!
We then continue with the marinated sardines. The marinade is made up of dashi, rice vinegar, soy sauce, peppers and onion. About the fish, which comes from the Mediterranean, the chef repeatedly stresses that he himself chooses excellence on the market day by day, as well as for vegetables and meat.
Then it is the turn of the homemade cold soba with shrimp and asparagus kakiage, raw onion and dashi sauce.
To follow, rump of wagyu stewed with soy sauce, sake, mirin, red wine vinegar and a tip of Japanese mustard. The result is very reminiscent of Piedmontese braised meat (a clear reference to the chef's experience in the Cuneo area), which is truly special.
We then move on to one of the main dishes: Italian eel (from Pavia) blanched and then steamed, lacquered with the reduction of its juices, tamari, mirin and soy sauce. It is served with a very soft dashimaki (cooked with ten eggs). It is honestly one of the best eels ever eaten in Milan: the lacquering is perfect, the meat is excellent and compact. A real joy for the palate.
An interlude with marinated daikon with rice vinegar and soy sauce allows you to savor the contents of the splendid lacquered box that Yoko San opens before your eyes: sheets of Wagyu marinated in a sake-scented sauce and then scalded, served on rice and iceberg salad finely chopped with ginger marinated in red wine vinegar aside. It is a truly remarkable dish and, in addition to the goodness of the Wagyu A5, I note that rice is also excellent: the chef confides in fact to me to use a special copper pot with a weight to lay on during cooking. An ancient method that really makes the difference. All this is accompanied by red miso soup.
Finally we come to the desserts accompanied by hochija tea, all obviously made by the chef: warm and soft Imagawa-Yaki filled with matcha custard or azuki jam made by hand (seeing and hearing the whole pieces of red beans is pure joy) and the ice cream without thickeners based on cream, kinako and Muscovado sugar, garnished with round Piedmontese caramelized hazelnut (the chef buys it in Piedmont and brings it to Milan vacuum packed to preserve its flavour).
The dishes are all perfectly executed, balanced and aesthetically perfect. Having them tasted with the excellent sake daishinsyu recommended by Yoko San has certainly given an extra boost. This is an unpublished label in Italy, since the Hazama restaurant holds the exclusive one.
To date, the restaurant offers both on-site consumption and takeaway. If you have the opportunity, I suggest you book for a dinner because the atmosphere is very romantic and suggestive.
The bill is honest and in line with what is proposed.
I absolutely recommend this restaurant to all those who already know Japanese cuisine, especially to those who have already visited Japan or even those who want to make a qualitative leap in tasting Japanese dishes.