NAKEDFOOD says, “Hello, Kyoto!”

I recently took my brand, NAKEDFOOD to Kyoto where I consulted for a smart luxury hostel and hotel group called “Piece”. The group is made up of hostels,  Piece Hostel KyotoPiece Hostel Sanjo and premium hotel, 22 Pieces. Founder, Nobuyuki Tabata had a singular vision for the Piece Group in that it was built for “active travelers” to meet people from around the world and experience Kyoto beyond the surface at an affordable price. And that is truly the feeling when you walk through the cafe or the lobby. Interesting people stream in and out 24 hours a day with a ready smile and good vibe.

All private rooms have showers and toilets. From personal experience, the generously large beds with pure white bedding, so cleverly fit into a minimal space giving one the feeling of luxury, but on a budget. Also, if you like me are not fond of small spaces, you will appreciate the large window right above the bed and an equally large mirror opposite the bed to create an impression of even more space.

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Gorgeous café area of Piece Hostel, Kyoto

For this project, Piece wanted to launch a raw and cooked vegan bar food menu for its international and local guests. Although vegan food is available in Japan and is growing in popularity, it isn’t yet as established as it is in other countries. I was excited to be able to share what I know and spent a productive two weeks in Kyoto, training the staff on 4 popular NAKEDFOOD recipes. The recipes were:

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raw, vegan kimchi dumplings

I learned the basic dumpling recipe at the Matthew Kenney Raw Culinary Institute (back in the day before he sold it. In the original recipe, we used raw, young coconut flesh and spinach juice to make the dumpling wrappers but since it was impossible to find young coconut in Taipei, I experimented with other vegetables until I found that raw tomatoes were the perfect pairing for the piquant raw kimchi flavours inside. The other ingredients inside are cashew, sesame paste (always housemade), sesame oil and soy sauce. This dumpling recipe appeals to all kinds of palates as it is a combination of sweet, salty, sour and tart. They are perfect at wine tasting events, corporate receptions, wedding receptions, and canapé events.

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pan-grilled eggplant slider/ BBQ “pulled pork” slider

Custom-baked slider buns, warmed on a drizzle of olive oil in a hot pan, dressed with pan-grilled eggplant, slathered with a staunch cashew cheddar cheese sauce, onions caramelized in coconut sugar and paprika until they melt into a gooey, sticky yumiony mass , fresh, crisp baby cucumber and buttery butter lettuce as the final addition. Moorish, delectable goodness.

The BBQ “pulled pork” burger is originally made with monkey-head mushrooms, the application process of which takes several days, a calm demeanour and good 80’s soft rock playlist, however we couldn’t find the mushroom in Japan and customs wouldn’t let us cart body-bag-sized containers over the ocean so we opted for tempeh. Funny thing, I had only started playing with tempeh in my home kitchen not even a few weeks prior to the project and after disliking it immensely figured out how to hide that iron-y taste. It is the greatest chameleon of ingredients since it sucks up the flavour of any spice and oil it is marinated with and does a clever little show of pretending to be meat. It was fun being challenged in finding a substitute and after several calls to Indonesian businesses in central Kyoto, we found a restaurant willing to sell us a magnanimous amount of tempeh that we kept in dry storage. And honestly, my beloved Japanese friends, you need to break up with Amazon. It’s a bit of a codependent relationship you have with Amazon.

Finally, cultured tree-nut cheese. The se cheeses are fermented, seasoned, airdried then aged. The flavours available will be red wine onion jam, original and lemon and rosemary. You can enjoy the dairy-free cheeses with superb fruit jams, fresh fruit and hearty French loaves!

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Enter a captionGorgeous rooftop at Piece, Kyoto – open during the hot summer month for festive cocktails (and amaaaaaaazing raw, vegan food!)

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Sleek design

My time in Kyoto was like a dream. It is one of the most gorgeous cities I’ve ever visited, the architecture is disciplined and elegant, the people sooooo warm and kind (spontaneous gestures of help for confused-looking foreigners abound ;), and beautiful serene, temples are a hop, skip and jump away. Check out Nison In Temple in Arashiyama. Once you bat your way past the tourist buses and fried chicken stands ruining the famed bamboo forest, Nison In is tucked away past some rice paddies and up a regal forested pathway. It truly was the highlight of the trip. I felt all the tension off my body as I strolled through the temple grounds, admiring the clean plumbing and spotless walkways. Haha, no seriously, check out the water pipes. I was amazed. Not a speck of moss or mold.  Japan has completely captivated me and I am so happy that the vegan movement is growing there and that NAKEDFOOD is a part of it!

Delicious Taipei’s Menu Consultancy Project at Me:Liu Art Gallery

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Delicious Taipei was invited to present and teach 2 raw dishes for the menu of Taichung art gallery, Me:Liu 彌留. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase two exquisite dishes and honoured that an establishment as sophisticated as … Continue reading

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Consultancy at Metro Bodhi

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I served this at a dinner for 18 Buddhist teachers who fell in love with it so much that they asked me to teach the chefs at their restaurant, 一沙一塵MetroBodhi how to cook this. This dish, along with two others they liked haven’t made it onto the menu as yet. I will have to go back and re-teach as the teachers still need to get the hang of it.

The chefs and I in the kitchen

The chefs and I in the kitchen

This dish is devilishly easy but so delicious, anyone tasting it would imagine you spent hours perfecting it. I got it off the website of a great Indian chef. Sanjeev Kapoor. I love his recipes. I loved the idea of beets because first, I NEED them and secondly, you don’t much of beets in Indian cooking. My intention was to show the Buddhist teachers a new way to experience Indian food. I’m tired to hell with the typical, commercialised, washed down dishes of palak paneer, and whatever khorma are selling at the below average Indian restaurants at above average prices in Taipei.

When imagining the flavour, think about peppery mustard, nutty chana and earthy curry leaves.

Here’s how:

1 large beet, cut into cubes (yeah, you can in Taipei;) Mr. Kapoor’s original recipe asks for 3 – 4 small ones

Your favourite cooking oil – enough to stir fry

1/2 tsp mustard seeds (I use 1 tsp)

2 tsp chana dhal (I use more, I’m pretty full-on:D)

2 red chili, split length ways, insides removed

10 – 12 curry leaves (is life possible without curry leaf?)

salt

Now the original recipe asks for 1/4 cup coconut but I don’t dig coconut in food unless it’s Thai so I substituted a nice, dark balsamic to add a but of tartness. If you’re inclined towards coconut, go for it.

1 tbls chopped cilantro (I would freshly chopped mint and basil for some complexity)

Heat the oil in a pan, add the mustard seed. Once they start dancing around like Freddy Mercury is singing right next to you, add your chana dhal. I had no idea one could fry chana. This was a very exciting discovery for me. Stir for a bit then add curry leaves and chili and inhale! My word! Curry leaf is just heaven! Add beets and salt, cover and cook. I like my beets to be a bit crunchy so I won’t cook them right through. Once cooked, add balsamic or coconut and cilantro/ basil/ mint.

Beets Porial in the pan

Beets Porial in the pan

Metro Bodhi - really lovely, modern, clean vegetarian food

Metro Bodhi – really lovely, modern, clean vegetarian food

Great olive oil, vinegars and honey selection

Great olive oil, vinegars and honey selection

Here’s some info on curry leaf: Curry tree – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bon appétit!

Bon appétit!