Ootoya: From Farm to Table

Most of the time, being a 'food blogger', and we often get blinded sided in our rat race to get to latest food fads; more often than not, losing sight of the true essence of food and it's humble beginnings. Especially in Singapore, because of geographical limitations and monetary considerations, very rarely do we come across individuals or corporations that show a remote passion in stressing the importance of sustainability practises in the Food and Beverage industry. While living in Sydney, 'farm to table' movements and 'local produce used' were a dime in a dozen. akin to the magnitude of the waffle and gelato craze here on our local shores, yet returning back to my motherland has cast a huge soaking wet blanket over my conviction to pursue environmental sustainability through local produce. Up till now... 

A recent invite to Ootoya opened my eyes to a whole new realm of farming in  Singapore. Panasonic Factory Solutions Asia Pacific (Panasonic) has announced it's pilot commercial supply of locally harvested vegetables to Japanese restaurant Ootoya. Cultivated in a 248 square meter indoor agriculture facility, 10 types of vegetables are grown via  soil based environment with LED lighting, out with which 3 varieties are now employed in Ootoya's local menu. What impressed me the most tenacity of Panasonic in using their advancements in technology to derive methods to drive self sufficiency through a sustainable cultivation method. In the course of doing so, astutely roping in Ootoya whose focus on quality of life by offering up authentic home cooked Japanese food to their customers is unquestionably in sync with Panasonic's vision to  adopt an sustainable and cost efficient method of farming that still hits the home run with the freshness and quality of its vegetables.

Doing the Media launch, we were privileged to have the Ootoya kitchen put together some salads for us using the premium vegetables procured from the Panasonic farms.

The Salad Roll with Bagna Dressing ($4) had a quirky charm to its flavor profile, the rice paper roll stuffed with mini red radish, red leafy lettuce and mizuna (potherb mustard)  served with an creamy anchovy dip was like the love child of a Vietnamese and French couple. The refreshing combination that appears as innocuous at first bite translating into subversive with a quick dip in the Italian style dip made from anchovies, fresh cream, milk and garlic.

My favourite salad of the night was the Homemade Tofu Salad with Sesame dressing ($4.50), the suppleness of the tofu perfectly delicious and almost moreish with the subtle sesame sauce.

Shrimp Salad with Aurora dressing ($4). Mini Red Radish, red leafy lettuce, mizuna and shrimps served with creamy dressing made from bell peppers and tomatoes. Not my favourite but still does a great job in highlighting the great produce that is the local farm vegetables.

For the mains, we were treated to a choice of 3 sets of different proteins. S couldn't get past the Hokke Set, consisting of a charcoal grilled fish, miso soup, chawanmushi, rice and a side dish of braised vegetables; this instantly took me back to my experiences of dining at a Japanese home stay. The style of cooking so delicate and earnest that it almost felt like you were dining under the expert care of a matronly chef, the pride and meticulous ways of the kitchen individuals shining ever so brightly.

My Pork Belly Shiokuji Set presented different flavor dimensions and textures with each bite. The tenderness of the grilled pork belly achieving transcendence with the diners in the room.

Watch out for the new salads featuring the locally grown vegetables to be released officially somewhere in Mid-August. Meantime, for you faithful followers of Ootoya, here's a little something special.

fundamentally-flawed dined as a guest of Ootoya. A major thanks to Adrienne of Golin Harris for the kind invite!

Ootoya Japanese Restaurant
#08-12 Orchard Central
181 Orchard Road

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