We arrive at restaurant Hosokawa in Amsterdam on a hot summer night. I had been out of the country for two weeks and for two weeks straight the weather in London had been grey and rainy. Coming back to my hometown, where the sun actually exists, and on that particular sunny night, it made my homecoming as perfect as ever. We wait in line as a group of customers are being seated by the window and by the teppan grill table. Soon we were led to the best seats possible in a Japanese restaurant: the chef’s table.
Executive chef Hiromichi Hosokawa stands in the restaurant as a proud yet humble man. He’s hunched back behind the counter busy preparing a dish, but gives us a warm welcoming smile. Hosokawa, which translates to ‘narrow river’, formerly trained as a Master Chef at Amsterdam’s famous Okura Hotel. After 20 years, Hosokawa decided it was time to open his own restaurant. And so he did, in 1992. In the heart of Amsterdam, Hosokawa is a restaurant that honors the art of sushi making, teppan grill and robata.
We sample the chef’s sushi omakase, an experience where you leave the selection of sushi to the chef. The rice was as well-balanced as we had had in a long time and the fish was sliced in a rather sophisticated manner. Not rectangle-shaped like it is usually served in restaurants, but beautifully tailed. Each piece leaves you excited for the next one. This is where you go when you want to enjoy sushi the way it was meant to be eaten – delicate and refined.
We move on to a nigiri platter highlighting the tuna nigiri varieties, including yellow fin tuna, bluefin tuna and the fatty part of bluefin tuna (also known as toro) which was a little piece of heaven on its own (we thank the chef for this delightful moment).
After the sushi, we sample a scallop tempura dish, lightly battered, in a sweet tempura sauce with radish. And we finish with Japanese wagyu from the robata grill. Robatayaki (robata translates to ‘around the fire’) is a method of slow-grilling food on skewers over hot charcoal. Not to be confused with teppanyaki, where food is prepared on a hot iron surface. Japanese wagyu beef is known for its intense marbling. The quality of the meat demands a high price and only few restaurants have the privilege of serving it. The experience of having wagyu beef is like no other. The marbling of the meat makes the meat melt in your mouth. And it has such a rich flavor.
We talk with chef Hosokawa about his experience as a chef, bluefin tuna, wagyu beef and eating good food around the world. The chef talks about food with passion and that passion translates into his food. The humble chef is all smiles when we tell him how much we loved it. And that says something about the chef, knowing he has served so many people over the years already. I guess at the end of the day, that is the goal of a chef. To be able to perfect your craft and leave people astonished.
Which we certainly were.
Restaurant Hosokawa, Max Euweplein 22, Amsterdam
Executive chef Hiromichi Hosokawa
Sous chef Makoto Hosokawa
Sous chef Marcell Cheng