In the culinary bubble of Hong Kong, the founder and Head Chef of NAGAMOTO, Teruhiko Nagamoto, brings gourmet Japanese cuisines to the next level. After graduating from the highly-regarded Tsuji Culinary Institute, Nagamoto quickly went on to perfect his culinary experience at various traditional Japanese restaurants and in Michelin-starred kitchens. He upheld his lifelong passion and opened his own fine dining, NAGAMOTO in Central. Inspired by the Japanese 'Shun' philosophy, a word for when ingredients are at the peak of their freshness and flavour, Chef Nagamoto refines traditional Japanese cuisine with a modern twist.
We chat with the chef about his passions and ambitions.
1) Where do you find inspiration for your dishes at Nagamoto?
I usually visit some of my favourite shops or get new inspirations from the internet and Japanese cookbooks written by renowned chefs etc. I will also patronise some talk-of-the-town restaurants too.
2) How did you get into cooking?
I was born and raised in Kyoto. I have fond childhood memories of spending time with my grandmother and father in our Japanese dumpling shop. My passion for cooking developed at an early age, and then I furthered my study at the coveted Tsuji Culinary Institute.
3) What’s your daily schedule before you arrive at Nagamoto?
Every morning when I wake up, I take a shower to start the day afresh. Then I watch the news and weather report in Japan, as this helps to give me a heads-up on the day's ingredients supply. For example, if there is heavy rain or a typhoon, that means some of the seafood might not be able to ship to my restaurant and I will need to make all necessary adjustments to the menu immediately.
As I also handle the floral arrangement at NAGAMOTO restaurant by myself, sometimes I will need to go to the flower shops before making my way back to work.
4) What’s the best part about owning a restaurant?
Owning a restaurant allows me to inject more creativity and my very own thoughts into my dishes. I always think about “How could I make old cooking techniques understandable to diners who might not be familiar with Japanese culinary history?” I hope that through my cooking, I can help pass on Japan’s traditions. I am happy to have my own team, and I am proud to see them grow and become more knowledgeable about Japanese culinary art.
5) Do you have any advice for aspiring chefs?
First and foremost, one has to remember and master all the basics before adding your own creativity and twists. If you don't do it step by step, you can only cook dishes that look good but may have no substance.
Most importantly, when it comes to cooking, I think one has to work hard, be serious and honest, go step by step, and be grateful.