When Food is Art

For those who doubt that art and cuisine are the same expression of meaning, one has only to look at the co-existence of two recent openings in Seattle, Washington.  One is the Isamu Noguchi Exhibition at the Frye Art Museum and the other is the opening of the Kaisho Restaurant in nearby Bellevue, Washington.

Each represents the ability to master a medium and then, with skill and perception, to embrace a larger experience that defines the core of both art and cuisine.

In 1930 the young Noguchi was hoping to reunite with his long estranged father in Japan after studying sculpture in Paris. Instead he went to Peking after receiving a letter from his father disowning both he and his American mother.

There he met a more sympathetic Japanese businessman, Sotokichi Katsuizumi, who had been educated in America and who was an avid collector of Chinese art. It was at his home that Noguchi first saw the drawings of Qi Baishi, one of China’s most respected modern ink painters. And his art was never the same again.

Similarly, diners at the new Kaisho Restaurant are offered the same opportunity to experience tradition made new through the mastery of the medium. There, simple dishes are elevated to new heights. Traditionally prepared dishes are suddenly bright and fresh again. Yet all are inviting, welcoming – much like Noguchi’s drawings done while he studied with the famed Qi.

The committed and skilled Kaisho kitchen staff prepare surprise after surprise, starting with the inspired Wasabi Puffed Nori Rice Chips which are visual works of art in and of themselves, totally aside from their unforgettable flavor.  

In complete contrast is the velvety Roasted Kabotcha Squash Soup, accented with curried ambrosia apples and radishes. This is a soup worthy of Paris' (or Tokyo's) finest restaurants. 

Yet there is much, much more – Garlic Hanger Steak with miso creamed kale and garlic soy and Whole Fried Fish served with charred lemons, accented by a spicy ginger sauce and garnished with a pepper cress and radish salad. Last, but not least, there are the heavenly Thai Fried Chicken and unique Kimchee Waffles.

Kaisho, like Noguchi, offers both tradition and innovation, ease and elegance. Its cuisine, like all great art, will delight the connoisseur and offer new experiences to those seeking more than the mundane, the common, the everyday. Diners have Jeffrey Lunak and his handpicked staff, including Chef de Cuisine Kalen Schramke, to thank for this wealth of stunning diversity. Lunak, a former protege of "Iron Chef" Morimoto, fully understands the creative process and works with his staff over several months to perfect each and every dish. 

It does not take a fortune cookie to know that life is short and a treasure not to be wasted. One should live and learn each and every day. Why not begin with Noguchi’s amazing art and end with an unforgettable dinner at Kaisho? In short, leave the rest and enjoy the best!

Your Culinary World Copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2014