First dish you made on your own?
Japanese hot cakes. It is a combination of a pancake and a cake, and is much thicker, fluffier and taller. My favourite is the one that you can buy from any supermarket in Japan or at Hotel New Otani in Tokyo. As a kid, that was the first dish I ever made.
The idea behind the name Ministry of Crab and the menu design?
When contemplating a name for a crab restaurant with my friends, we brainstormed a lot of names. But we realised that the crab itself is a powerful ingredient, monstrous in size, strong in look and feel. We wanted to give the restaurant an equally powerful and institution-like name that would own the ingredient. And that’s how Ministry of Crab as a name came into being. The menu design stemmed from the name of the restaurant. As a ‘ministry’ we should have a Constitution and Amendments, which is how the design came into existence.
A dish that you can't quite perfect?
No dish is perfect. The beauty is in its imperfections, like wabi-sabi. In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi is a world view centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of appreciating beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete” in nature.
What keeps you going?
Several things, like food, new dishes, new discoveries, inspirations, ingredients, the joy of eating.
Any plans of a Delhi branch of MoC?
After our recent pop-up in Delhi, I feel the city is ready for a Ministry of Crab. In consultation with Gourmet Investments Pvt. Ltd. (GIPL), our India partners, we will consider if we can open a MoC in Delhi, after Mumbai. Watch this space for more.
You're half Japanese, did you spend your days in Tokyo as a kid, or have you been to other places?
As a child, I grew up both in Tokyo and Colombo. It’s a combination of these two cities that led to my appreciation of crab and ingredients. From the Japanese culture, I learned to appreciate nature in many ways as compared to other people. And coming to Sri Lanka, which is full of natural resources, it brought crab and other ingredients closer to me.
In terms of your temperament in the kitchen, would you describe yourself as a Vikas Khanna or a Gordon Ramsay?
(Laughs) I believe I can be compared to Gordon Ramsay on steroids and can swear in more languages than he can, if need be.
What is the dish, according to you, that you make the best?
Wild boar curry. Although it is a difficult task to source wild boar in Sri Lanka, I manage to source them from the mountainous regions where one can find different sizes and fattier boars. Unfortunately, it cannot be commercially sold as a dish in Sri Lanka.
Top three places around the world you love eating at the most?
Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
Any ritual before you start your day in the kitchen?
Yes. I ensure I check what my staff is going to eat and then eat myself.
Lastly, please share a recipe for our readers.
1kg mud crab
15g unroasted curry powder
5g chilli powder
2.5g turmeric powder
30g sunflower oil
10g hand-chopped onion
10g hand-chopped garlic
20g coconut milk
1 (5-inch) lemongrass stalk
1 (4-inch) pandan leaf
2 sprigs curry leaves
1 sprig drumstick leaves
Salt (to taste)
Prepare the crab by cleaning it and cutting it into 6 pieces.
Into a pot add sunflower oil, once heated add onion, garlic, stalk of lemongrass, pandan leaf, curry leaves and sauté until fragrant.
While the ingredients in the pot are sautéing, mix together curry powder, turmeric and chilli powder with 200 ml of water and season the crab.
Once the ingredients in the pot are fragrant, add the crab and curry/water mixture into the pot.
Cook the crab covered on low heat for 15-20 minutes.
Once the crab is almost done add drumstick leaves, coconut milk and add salt to taste, if necessary.
Once the curry thickens, turn off the heat and serve.
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