EAST MEETS... SOUTH?
Keisuke Harada: Sushi south of the border...
If he could, Harada would travel everywhere with a rice cooker and soy sauce.
Keisuke Harada, sushi chef at Boca Chica in Alcapulco, fuses Japanese and Mexican flavors, with a touch of New York.
When Keisuke Harada was asked to move to Acapulco from New York he accepted the challenge with an open mind, an open heart and a keen palate. Previously the chef at New York’s Bond Street restaurant, Harada has been perfecting the craft of making sushi for many years, but says he is still discovering new flavors and tastes, “I'm still learning every day and that is never ending. Every day I find something new. Life is about always learning, that's why every day is interesting.”
After living in New York, where there was no ingredient he couldn’t get his hands on, Harada had to alter his style to cater to local tastes in Mexico. Originally preparing his dishes in a traditional Japanese style, he says he really had to bump up the chili to please the spice-hungry palates of the guests at Boca Chica. The cuisine he has developed there blends Mexican ingredients with Japanese cooking techniques, always making the most of the fresh seafood and local produce that is available. Think grilled tuna with basil oil and pico de gallo; heart of palm tempura; and sushi rolls with coconut shrimp.
When he is not working, he enjoys spending time with his son, who is just like the new flavor he has developed on his menu – half Japanese, half Mexican. At home, his favourite thing to eat is his wife’s Mexican cooking, particularly tamales oaxaquenos verde. He is still working on his own Mexican cooking skills, preferring instead to stick to Japanese food at home. If he could, he says he would travel everywhere with a rice cooker and soy sauce.
There are many things he misses about his home town, Kyoto, particularly his temple, his family, the sake and the sushi. To see the real Japan, he recommends getting out of Tokyo and instead heading to smaller places like Kyoto, Kyushu, and Okinawa, “Outside of Tokyo you can see an old fashioned Japan and the food is amazing. In the countryside, that is real Japanese beauty.”