The first two things that come to my mind when I think of the brand, Panasonic are usually electronic goods and household appliances. When I heard the news that Panasonic was going into agribusiness, I was rather surprised. In fact, its first indoor vegetable farm facility in Singapore which was set up in October last year had started supplying its crops to Japanese Restaurant, Ootoya recently. I was invited to attend their media announcement and tasting last week.
Mr Hideki Baba, Managing Director, Panasonic Factory Solutions Asia Pacific, said, “Combining Panasonic’s technological and manufacturing expertise, these premium Japanese crops are grown in optimum conditions, where temperature, humidity and CO2 levels are monitored and controlled, ensuring stable, high-quality production throughout the year. The soil-based cultivation is pesticide-free and complies with AVA’s stringent food safety standards…”
Indeed, Panasonic’s new agricultural solution that combines traditional farming techniques and a variety of technologies will certainly help land-scarce Singapore to be more self-sufficient in its food resources. As such, we would not need to worry about food scares from abroad as there’d be a stable supply all year round. Given that Singapore has relied mainly on imports for over 90% of food consumed here, such eco and sustainable method of farming will greatly reduce carbon footprint and residents here can also enjoy premium Japanese vegetables at reduced prices in the time to come.
Check out this video to find out more about this new method of farming:
The farm currently produces 10 types of vegetables, both leafy and root. It is also supplying all three Ootoya outlets in Singapore with 3 premium Japanese crop varieties i.e. the mini red radish, red leafy lettuce and mizuna (potherb mustard). Vegetables are delivered fresh from the farm to the restaurants daily to ensure the highest quality of produce. Ootoya has also come up with four new types of salads which they will be adding into their seasonal menu available from mid-August onwards.
Made with mini red radish, red leafy lettuce, mizuna and home-made tofu, served with a Japanese style light sesame dressing.
In case you’re not aware, Ootoya is one of the few Japanese restaurants in Singapore that makes its own tofu in-house. Its tofu is quite different from the pre-packed ones we buy from supermarkets as its texture is coarser and grainier but its flavour is also more pure and full-bodied like eating a rich soya beancurd dessert without sugar syrup. The sesame dressing wasn’t overpowering (in fact more on the bland side) so we could enjoy the crispy greens as is.
Made with mini red radish, red leafy lettuce, mizuna, bonito or katsuobushi (dried, fermented and smoked skipjack tuna), served with Ootoya’s original tangy dressing made from diced onions, bell peppers, lemon juice and olive oil.
The dressing was really refreshing and the crunch from the diced vegetables added some welcoming textures. I also enjoyed the intense smokiness of the katsuobushi that really imparted an umami flavour to the salad.
Made with mini red radish, red leafy lettuce, mizuna and shrimps, served with a creamy dressing made from bell peppers and tomatoes and drizzled with fresh lemon juice.
The prawns were poached to perfection and each remained fresh and crunchy. The dressing reminded me of Thousand Island dressing but it was slightly less tangy and more sweet with a stronger taste of tomatoes.
Made with mini red radish, red leafy lettuce, mizuna wrapped in rice paper, served with a typical Italian style dip made from anchovies. fresh cream, milk and garlic.
Among all 4 salads, this was my favourite because the dressing was really rich, creamy and intense like a garlic aioli. In fact, the garlicky smell was pretty strong in this and being a garlic lover, I was naturally drawn to its aroma and flavour that gave the salad an extra punch.
If I wasn’t mistaken, the salads were intentionally served in a particular order so we could enjoy the lighter dressings first while our taste buds gradually got accustomed to the increasing richness of the dressings. I was impressed with such attention to details.
Overall, these vegetables were a delight. Taste wise, of course they were the same as the usual imported ones but the fact that these were locally harvested and delivered daily, there were little to no bruising on the leaves. These were just fresh, crispy and crunchy just like what any good vegetable should be.
After the salad tasting which already came in humongous portions (what you see will be what you get), we were hosted dinner with selections off Ootoya’s regular menu.
The fish was grilled to perfection with the skin underneath being all crispy and the flesh being all tender and juicy. Texture wise, it was similar to saba fish but flavour wise, this was much better though it was quite salty. Pairing the fish with the steamed rice will help mellow down the saltiness. The only downside was that there were a lot of bones on top so would need some time and patience to remove them. The side dishes of marinated seaweed and kelp, stewed chicken with lotus root and carrot and chawanmushi were impressive as well. The miso soup was also nicely seasoned without being too salty. This was a meal I’d come back for.
These chunks of tender pork were layered with a good ratio of meat to fats and had a lovely subtle smoky flavour. The side potato salad was pretty good too.
Having a meal here at Ootoya was like enjoying a home-cooked meal in a Japanese home. Everything served up was unpretentious, hearty and wholesome. And with the new salads coming our way soon, healthy food is exactly what we should look out for at Ootoya.
And to all my readers, if you’re interested to try these dishes at Ootoya, simply flash the coupon below to enjoy a complimentary beer or dessert with order of any main course at any of their 3 outlets from now till 30 September 2014. Enjoy, folks!
Ootoya @ Orchard Central
Tel: 6884 8901
Ootoya @ Clementi Mall
Tel : 6659 2644
Ootoya @ Changi City Point
Tel: 6636 1228
PS: Thank you Adrienne and Nathaniel for the invite and thank you Ootoya for hosting us.