A seasoned Japanese chef renowned for his expertise and global culinary journey, Hiroyuki Tanaka brings a wealth of experience and a professional cooking license from Japan’s Ministry of Health to his latest appointment at Gran Meliá Jakarta. With a rich background spanning prestigious hotels worldwide, he’s poised to elevate Yoshi Izakaya’s Japanese cuisine, crafting innovative menus and ensuring top-notch quality.
E: Can you tell us what got you into cooking and eventually what attracted you to work full-time in the culinary industry?
A: I started cooking when I was in junior high school. I was watching a movie about cooking, and I started making and eating my own food for the first time. I thought at the time that being a chef would be a suitable job for me. After that, I went to a culinary school and graduated. However, in the beginning, I didn’t have any deep thoughts about pursuing a career in this field.
E: Do you remember the first ever dish that you learned to make, and can you still do it well now?
A: At my culinary school, there was a practical test, and I practised making fried rice many times. And of course, I can still make fried rice now.
E: You had a very diverse career spanning various locations across Asia. Please tell me the difference between working in Japan and working in other countries.
A: In Japanese workplaces, hierarchical relationships are very strict. For example, even a one-year career difference or a one-year age difference can create a relationship similar to that between a boss and a subordinate. In other countries, the relationship is more casual. In Japan, everything is available, including ingredients, vendors, cooking utensils, interior decoration and more, and you can order at any time and even specify a time.
That’s not the case in other countries, especially when it comes to Japanese restaurants. However, it is also rewarding to overcome such a new environment by ingenuity.
E: Among all the countries that you’ve worked in, do you have one favourite country?
A: My favourite countries that I have worked in are Malaysia and here in Indonesia. Basically, there are a lot of kind people in these two countries, and I’ve received a lot of help from them, which I’m grateful for.
E: What is your memorable experience from working in hotels?
A: Compared to downtown restaurants, there are many different types of people working in hotels, so I can talk to people from other departments. It was also a great experience for our customers to meet a variety of people, including locals, people from other countries and Japanese people.
E: How does Yoshi Izakaya Japanese Restaurant stay ahead of its counterparts?
A: We need to create and promote new menus and let Jakartans and foreign tourists know more about our restaurant. We need to respond flexibly and quickly to any inputs, and we have to keep improving the menus and service.
E: What are you looking forward to the most from this position at Gran Meliá Jakarta?
A: Participating in various events at the hotel, meeting wonderful new guests and interacting with co-workers. It’s an opportunity to do things for the first time.
E: If a first-time guest asks for recommendations, what dish would you offer to give them the best experience at Yoshi Izakaya Japanese Restaurant?
A: Currently, popular menu items at the restaurant include Tokyo beef roll and salmon avocado roll. The robatayaki or grill selection includes mentai-yaki oysters and miso-marinated black cod fish.
The teppanyaki favourite is a set of wagyu beef, lobster and salmon. For the dessert, the original homemade mochi with custard cream offers something special.
Exquisite Taste Volume 42
Yoshi Izakaya Japanese Restaurant
Gran Meliá Jakarta
Jalan H.R. Rasuna Said
Jakarta 12950, Indonesia
T: (+62) 215268080