New Year, Local Flavors

New Year, Local Flavors

Club executive chef Lindsay Gray shares what went into filling this year’s gourmet stacked boxes.

It may only be September, but it’s never too early to start planning your New Year’s feast.

The Club’s contemporary twist on the centuries-old Japanese tradition of feasting on specially prepared dishes for the first meal of the year has become a favorite among Members. Limited to 100 sets, this year’s selection promises to be one of the most impressive yet, as Lindsay Gray, the Club's executive chef, explains.

What did you aim to create with this year’s Club osechi?
LG: The premise of the Club’s boxes is that this is not traditional Japanese osechi, which is typically preserved to withstand a few days left out at room temperature. Our osechi is more of a fresh offering meant to be picked up on New Year’s Eve and eaten that day or on the first of January.

As much as possible, we wanted to use products from the land and waters here in Japan. It supports our community and cuts down on the environmental impact of shipping. I think we have a selection this year that does that and delivers really great celebratory bites.

Why do you think the Club take on a Japanese tradition is so well received each year?
LG: The biggest draw, I feel, is the combined selection of non-traditional osechi items and a great bottle of premium sake. This has made our unique boxes a tradition for many Members. About 30 percent of our orders are repeats and almost 80 percent are from Japanese Members.

What are this year’s standout dishes?
LG: We have a fantastic selection that is the sum of four parts: the land, the sea, sweets and drink.

While we are focusing on local ingredients, it’s also important for the Club to include elements from the US. From the land, we have beef from Idaho’s Snake River Farms. This blend of top-grade Wagyu beef and premium American Black Angus delivers intense, buttery Wagyu marbling with a robust American beef flavor.

From the sea, we have the amazing 1983 Miyazaki fresh caviar. This project started in 1983 after 200 white sturgeons were donated to Japan by the Russian government. There are no preservatives, just sturgeon eggs and salt. The pure underground water supply provides an immensely clean-tasting craft caviar that we would like Members to try alone with no garnishes.

The sweet is a baumkuchen from Satoya Baumkuchen Bakery in Minami Uonuma, Niigata Prefecture. Flavored with sake lees, this is a simple yet rich dessert that fits perfectly with the osechi.

These are just some highlights from the extensive collection of flavors in the boxes.

This includes a bottle of sparkling sake for the first time. Why did you choose Hakkaisan’s Awa?
LG: It’s a fantastic sparkling sake. The second fermentation in the bottle results in a delicate bubble and a balanced sake that is a perfect match with our food. And in keeping with our theme of staying close to home, there was no better choice than Hakkaisan.

What reaction do you hope for when Members open the lids?
LG: Hopefully, Members will love the rich selection of local ingredients. We’re leaving less of a footprint, and that makes me happy. Above all, we hope they have a great New Year’s break and that the Club osechi helps make it the best ever!

Book online from October 2.

Words: C Bryan Jones
Image: Kayo Yamawaki

September 2023