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    With a new chef from Japan, Accord Metropolitan opens its speciality restaurant, Sora Jima

    Chef Yasuhiro Katayama is so charming that we’ve managed to ignore our growling stomachs and forgive his horrified look when we demand food. The new Japanese chef in town is days away from opening Sora Jima (island in the sky) at Accord Metropolitan, and a series of miscommunications has led us to arrive at a food tasting, with no food to taste. While he hurries off to prepare a sampler, Arindam Mukherjee, executive assistant manager, says that the 55-cover restaurant was born of the demand generated by the hotel’s Japanese guests and the city’s expat population.
    Quick nibble
    Our chef soon returns with a sampling of appetizers — tempura, sashimi and a plate of vegetables that include beans and hijiki, and dashimfood 2aki tamago (omelette). The standout is the hijiki — a sea vegetable cooked with chicken — which must be ordered even if one can’t find it on the menu. We later learn that eaten in large quantities (say more than 33g a week) it can be toxic, but not when eaten occasionally. The menu features mainly sushi-sashimi, yakimono (grills) and agemono (fried), rices, sobas and a solitary ramen. And we look forward to trying the tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlet) and pork soy broth ramen topped with cha syu when we visit next.
    Market happy
    Katayama has friends at Radisson Blu City Centre’s Raku Raku, but negotiating the city on his own has been a matter of trial and error — an auto driver charged him Rs 700 to go to Pondy Bazaar giving him the impression that Chennai is “very expensive.” That said, no expense has been spared to help him bring his vision of Sora Jima to life — beef, tuna, salmon and some vegetables are imported — but he seems to enjoy his 4 am trips to Kasimedu to buy fish, regaling us with his strategy for getting to the fish before it reaches the market auction, to overcome the language barrier.
    Sora Jima is now open and will provide a Japanese breakfast and Bento box soon. Japanese beer, soju, sake and (soon) whiskey will also be available. Approximately Rs 2,500 plus tax for two. Details: 28161000

    Ranjitha Gunasekaran

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