By Jennifer 8. Lee | June 17, 2007
Today we will being our countdown to a non-specific date…Chinese food aficionados are waiting with baited breath for the mid-July opening of Wakiya in New York City after Alan Yau (of Hakkasan fame) was unable to get a visa for his chef for Park Chinois and thus canceled the project.
Yuji Wakiya, who is Japan-Japanese, is the “bad boy” of Chinese cuisine — he has a huge French influence in his cooking. As the Iron Chef Chinese pointed out to me in an interview, Japan is one of the very few countries in the world where the top Chinese chefs are not themselves, ethnically Chinese. That is because Chinese cuisine is still considered a high art in Japan — whereas in the rest of the world Chinese cuisine is something that is carried on the backs of immigrants. I have been to the Wakiya restaurant in Japan and it is truly fantastic — the delicacy of Japanese presentation mixed with the rich flavors of Chinese cooking. One dish involved steaming a live shrimp right in front of us at the table with tea poured over a hot rock. So its antennae were waving on its gray body one second. Then the bamboo top went down and the tea hit the rock. And 30 seconds later. It was pink and antennae not waving. It is very weird having something go from live to cooked at your dinner table.