As part of the celebrations for SJ50 (the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Japan), “WAZA Enjoy Taste of Japan” event was held by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) over the second weekend of January at Isetan Scotts.
The 2-day campaign was conducted to pique and increase interest in Japanese agricultural, forestry and marine produce, as well as Japanese food culture.
The event was organised in conjunction with the Producer Direct Order Service, a new service that ships fresh Japanese agricultural, forestry, and marine produce and foods refrigerated or frozen directly from Japanese producers to consumers in Singapore.
The day kicked off with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a traditional cultural performance, followed by a speech given by Mr Hiroshi Moriyama, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Japan.
Official representatives then split up into different counters to prepare samples of scrumptious Japanese food for the guests who were present. The shabu-shabu (しゃぶしゃぶ) was prepared with pork from Kagoshima (鹿児島), hometown of Mr. Moriyama and served with a drizzle of fragrant sesame dressing.
Other counters offered samples of delicious smoky Yakiniku (焼き肉、grilled meat), using high quality Japanese beef. Aside from the famous Wagyuu (和牛, Japanese cow), the Japan Livestock Products Export Promotion Council (JLIA) explained that Japan also produces high quality beef from cross-bred cows and Holstein Steer, which they hope to introduce to Singaporeans through this campaign. The beef I tried was melt-in-the-mouth good; JLIA maintains that once the beef is dry-aged, the umami level increases, much like edomae sushi (江戸前寿司).
Guests were also treated to juicy ripe strawberries from different regions in Japan, including the sweet Tochiotome (栃乙女) from Miyagi Prefecture and slightly tart Benihoppe (紅ほっぺ) from Shizuoka and Kumamoto Prefectures. The famous Amaou (あまおう) strawberries can now be bought from Isetan’s online store as part of the Producer Direct Order Service: https://www.isetan.com.sg/products/fukuoka-amaou-strawberry
There were also varieties of nihonshu (日本酒, Japanese liquor) or sake (酒, Japanese rice wine) which were available for sampling.
During the event, we spotted several interesting logos at the food sampling area as well as within Isetan supermarket itself.
These logos were found on packs of fresh beef and pork sold at Isetan, and we later found out that only authentic Japanese beef and pork bear these marks, and as such, they can be used as a guide for selecting high-quality, great-tasting authentic Japanese meat products.
Only cattle breeds that satisfy strict conditions are accredited with the Japanese Beef mark. If you happen to see it at supermarkets, butcheries or even restaurants in Singapore, you can be assured that you will be feasting on beef that has gone through stringent quality checks and is guaranteed to meet your inner-connoisseur’s expectations.
As we head into 2016, we can be sure that more events such as “WAZA Enjoy Taste of Japan” will take place to commemorate SJ50. And while Japan and Singapore continue to work on maintaining friendly relations, I’m going to keep my fingers crossed for more of Japan’s wonderful produce and specialities to make its way to our sunny island!
- WAZA Enjoy Taste of Japan was organised by MAFF, and proudly supported by: Japan Livestock Products Export Promotion Council, Yamato Transport Co., Ltd., ANA Cargo Inc., Isetan