Food / Food Design
Osaka: El Bau, an extraordinary experience
Here I am on the highspeed Shinkanzen train that will take me from Tokyo to Osaka. I can't wait to get there to meet my friend Keiko and her husband Junichi, who have opened El Bau, an internationally-renowned restaurant.
Osaka is traditionally considered to be "the nation’s kitchen" or the "best food city" of Japan, a ‘must’ for gourmets, and so no wonder El Bau has been located there. I'm amazed the moment I set foot inside the door; a real showcase! A blaze of flowers and plants everywhere, blending harmoniously with the refined essential interior style. Keiko and Junichi have created a very special location on two floors; a café and flower shop on the first floor, and restaurant on the second.
To be quite honest, it does them no justice to speak of a ‘flower shop’; much rather an artist’s workshop where monthly workshops and seminars are organized to learn the art of flower arranging. Each month has its own theme, depending on the period of the year.
In actual fact, Keiko explains to me that the philosophy behind the opening of the shop was very precise; respect for the rhythmic cycles of nature. The flowers used in the workshop and the vegetables and fruits used in the kitchen are solely and exclusively those available in that specific season. Furthermore, to guarantee their wholesomeness, all the products of the land are organically farmed in Takarazuka, about twenty kilometres from Osaka. Both the flower arrangements and the menu therefore follow the seasonality of products and, as such, vary depending on the season.
Telling me about himself, Junichi describes his experiences abroad and proudly tells me that he has also worked in Italy at the Ristorante il Sole in Bologna and at the Antica Osteria da Lenzo. His recipes are extremely sophisticated and the Japanese culinary tradition creates a wonderful match for our own creative tastes in Italian cooking. For starters, a foie gras confit, followed by an astonishingly soft delicate octopus salad, then Bianco Mangiare, an Italian dessert made with almonds and milk, and, finally, cinnamon ice cream; a true triumph of the spices. I leave El Bau with a real sense of wistfulness! Such a pity Osaka is so far away. The experience was quite extraordinary and my mind is already whirring with flower arrangements and the unique atmosphere of El Bau as a sure source of inspiration for my next projects.