Mandarin Oriental Magazine

Back in 2009, the Michelin inspectors awarded a star to three of the restaurants at the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo. To mark the occasion, I ate at all three and wrote about how lovely it all was.

The challenge for Sense is to take the classic ideas of Cantonese cuisine and apply them to a different climate and palate. ‘I have to localise many aspects,’ says Takase. ‘In Hong Kong, the food is typically light and delicate – it might even be the lightest of the world’s cuisines. But Japanese people like their food a little stronger and saltier, so I use more seasonings. and conversely, bitter ingredients such as goya are enormously popular in Hong Kong for their health benefits, but if you use the same amount of goya in a soup in Japan it will be too bitter.’

Among the chef’s innovations is a riff on the piquant XO sauce served at high-end Cantonese restaurants. He calls it MOT sauce, after the initials of Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo. It is milder than XO, and contains ingredients that only a Japanese chef would think of, such as bonito shavings and spicy marinated pollock roe.