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Chinese cuisine attracts holiday-makers at Osaka exhibition

By Atsushi Ebihara (Xinhua)

08:27, April 27, 2013

OSAKA, April 26 (Xinhua) -- Coinciding with Japan's major holiday season that starts this weekend, Chinese dishes and cooking techniques have been attracting holiday-makers and gourmets around a booth at Japan's biggest food exhibition.

The event, a dream for any epicurean, opened Friday at a large exhibition facility in the western Japanese city of Osaka, which is known as "Japan's kitchen" because of its rich culinary culture.

The exhibition, officially called the "International Food Expo Utage 2013 in Osaka," is being held at INTEX Osaka (International Exhibition Center Osaka) where nearly 100 various Chinese dishes, large and small, colorfully and skillfully decorated by a total of 100 Chinese and Japanese chefs, are on display at a dedicated booth to celebrate the expo's opening.

Ten of the artistic Chinese dishes on exhibit are awarded each day by senior chefs in categories such as appetizers, seafood and meat dishes, warm vegetable dishes, noodles and desserts.

Attendees can watch techniques for quickly slicing radish, carrots and gourd, as well as carefully carving these vegetables to different shapes of flowers, shrimps and other designs.

Choh Ki Hoh, senior technician and chef and a native of China's Shandong Province, stressed that a key factor in the presentation of Chinese cuisine is how one creates "gorgeousness" to enhance its high-quality image.

The 38-year-old senior chef, who has also taught Chinese cooking to young staff working locally in major hotels and students at a cooking school over the past 14 years, said that Chinese cuisine in particular requires the concept of "motion" as it is often cooked very quickly over a fire prior to serving, whereas Japanese cuisine seems to require a more "silent" presentation.

"I want more local Japanese people to know more recipes and the basic concepts of Chinese cuisine, which aims to attract and please guests at the table, and I want to widely promote our food culture at these kinds of events," Choh told Xinhua.

There is also a dedicated space at the expo to introduce Chinese dishes made mainly with local ingredients from the Kansai region. Among them are foods with a spicy or black vinegar sauce made from catfish and carp caught in Lake Biwa located in nearby Shiga Prefecture.

Another example is a wonderful assortment of Chinese sweets presented by a group of local chefs using chestnuts, beans and tapioca on a 50-centimeter plate in the shape of the lake.

Hikaru Sakura, vice manager for the Shiga branch of the Japan Association of Chinese Cuisine, told Xinhua that they consider the event a suitable venue not only to introduce the profundity expressed in Chinese cooking but also to give participating chefs a chance to fully display their cooking abilities.

"Young chefs in Japan are reluctant to spend much time in learning the deep roots of Chinese cuisine and its traditional techniques to produce dishes for important meals. We need expos like these to pass on to the next generation of Japanese chefs the Chinese' unique style in manipulating flavors," Sakura said.

In the Chinese exhibition booth, meanwhile, a wife and her husband in their 40s said that since Chinese cooking has many styles compared to other international cuisines, such us French and Indian, they will never tire of it, but rather be inspired by a kind of "dynamism" when eating. They also appreciated the Chinese various ways of cooking vegetables to make them healthy foods.

The Osaka International Food Exhibition is organized by an executive committee in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as local governments.

The organizer said the food event is held every four years and that this year, the exhibition's eighth, some 350 companies and entrepreneurs from 23 countries around the world are participating. More than 500,000 are expected to watch the event that will end May 6.

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