Paul Greening began his culinary training in Nelson, New Zealand and since has cruised all over the world tantalizing people with his confident concepts and creations. Paul is currently best known for his eclectic mix of Asian ingredients with Modern European techniques. He has gone from strength to strength and holds the position of Head Chef at Aqua Kyoto at Aqua London!
Paul’s menu for aqua kyoto focuses on natural, foraged ingredients from around the UK combining innovative Japanese cuisine with the very best of locally sourced ingredients. Paul has a highly stylised and explorative cooking style; Seaweed plays a large role in his menu’s and his techniques range from Lacto-fermentation to new creations such as Liquid Nitrogen Nitro Pav.
We reviewed some of his latest dishes and interviewed Paul!! Signature dishes include hand-picked Dorset Crab with a fresh Kent seaweed salad and a tomato and dashi bubble; Rabbit with Japanese green peach, pumpkin tofu and wild herbs from Canterbury; and Yomogi Tofu with truffle anakake sauce, which is cooked at the table adding a sense of theatre to the dining experience. READ REVIEW HERE!!
INTERVIEW WITH CHEF PAUL GREENING
Tell us about your career and what has lead you here to Aqua Kyoto?
I was a University doing a Bsc in Science Microbiology (My father is a Marine Biologist and my Grandfather owned a fleet of fishing boats so fish was in my blood so to speak, I grew up around fish).I started cooking when I was at University for extra cash then decided to do it full-time after my degree finished. I ended up winning commis of the year in New Zealand and represented New Zealand as a member of the junior culinary team which was in Japan; I got a silver medal. I then worked in the best restaurant’s based in Auckland, New Zealand, working with a very acclaimed Japanese chef Takashi at Kermedec restaurant after which I moved to the UK and worked with Pierre Koffmann at La tante Claire 3 star and then stints in Paris with Pierre Gagnaire and Guy Savoy, all 3 star Michelin.
I moved back to the Southern Hemisphere and ended up working at Pier restaurant ‘ Australia’s best seafood restaurant and also the Three Hat Holder, this was where I learnt a lot about fish with the Iki Jimi process. Moving back to the UK I worked with D & D London where I overlooked several business including a Japanese restaurant in Copenhagen. I then ran Soseki a Japanese Kaiseki restaurant in London where we were Nominated for Best new restaurant in London. I opened up the acclaimed Australasia in Manchester and then back to London where I worked back in Asian restaurants with D & D. After talking with Davd Yeo I was inspired to come and work for Aqua Group and take on the position of Head Chef of Aqua Kyoto.
Explain your favourite dishes on the menu…
1) Suckling Pork Belly with eel, root vegetables and jade oil
I like dishes that have lots of detail so for me the Pork Belly with Unagi show cases so many cooking techniques in just one dish; The suckling pork belly is cooked in a white miso and white soya sauce broth scented with aromatics. The unagi is slow steamed and basted with a sauce made from sake mirin soya and kuzu and then grilled on Japanese Binchi coal. The ramsons on the dish are Lacto-fermented for 4 weeks. The carrot are cooked in there own juices and vacuumed and then frozen to break down cell content in the carrot to give the affect of being cooked but in fact it isn’t; finally the carrot is blanched for thirty seconds to remove an enzyme. The dish is put together with wild foraged herbs and florals. As well as daikon which is cooked in shitake broth and finished with Japanese pepper, the dish for me showcases nature and a sense of purity.
2) Crab and seaweed salad with tomato dashi soup bubble
The Hand picked crab is picked from Cornish hen crabs, we cook three types of seaweed for this dish, wakame, hijiki and Himanthalia elongata. We make a soup with tomato and shisho and then clarify using micro filters to create clear soup like water then using natural products we create the soup to be encased in it’s own skin to form a bubble, we then dress the salad with ume plum wine and honey dressing and with foreged sea vegetables and sea pursalane.
What is the most unique dish on the menu?
It’s hard to say, probably the Suckling Pork due to the fact that we use so many cooking techniques.
Tell us more about your love for seaweed and the different techniques you use?
I am an advocate for seaweed for it’s high protein content and other health benefits, seaweed is a true superfood. Seaweed comes in so many different forms and flavours and when dried a lot Seaweeds can create umami crystals. We use seaweed throughout the whole kitchen from dried for stocks to fried seaweeds for dishes and then braised for other dishes; we use 8 different types at the moment in the kitchen and in the summer months these go up to about fifteen.
Your launching unagi and crab sushi, could you explain this dish? (cooked and marinated, spicy,eel, glazed with crab and cucumber, atika komachi)
The eel we get is from Denmark, we also get battera kombu white seaweed which we marinate in spicy dressing, the crab is hand picked and the cucumber we use are called med cucumbers as they are sweeter. The rice we use is Atika Komachi which is a high grade sushi rice which has been polished which gives a better quality to our sushi even though expensive it’s an expense we can’t do without.
We tried Swordfish belly, a specially cut. What is this dish about?
Back in Australia I first tried this at Pier, its amazing taste and texture the toro (belly) is so different to the loin, I have managed to use contacts in France to get this product to us fresh; I believe I am the only restaurant in London to have this product. It’s extremely popular with our customers, if only they knew what extreme lengths we go to get produce the dish, they would be very surprised!!
Best sushi you have ever had and where?
It’s hard to say it depends on who is making it, a lot of people say in Japan but to be honest there is crap sushi everywhere in the world even in Japan. Unfortunately I did not have the chance to eat at a Kaiseki restaurant during my visit to Japan- this is where the best is!!! I would say the best sushi I ever had was in Sydney at Sushi-e, the fish is Iki Jimi spiked and the degree of attention was amazing!!! Unfortunately here in London the fish is not the freshest like Australia and Japan.
One word to describe Japanese cooking…
Whats in store for next year?
A lot of things!!! As we work with the seasons and the summer months are the most exciting for me. When it comes to food, I have a lot of things in my mind at the moment, I am making Acorn miso, something that has been lost in Japan for a long time it should be good by summer; Also more Lacto-fermentation. The restaurant will also be getting a new face lift which is really exciting!!!!!
Where is your favourite hangout in London/Worldwide?
Anywhere that’s real and creative!!
What was the last thing that made you stop and stare?
I made a Liquid Nitrogen Nitro Pav, very cool wasn’t sure it would work but amazing!!!
5th Floor –240 Regent Street
(Entrance at 30 Argyll Street, W1F 7EB, opposite The Palladium)