Posted by: Waheeda Harris | October 11, 2011

Dining out: Kyoto Restaurant, Bavaro Dominican Republic

I’m spoiled living in Toronto – the wide range of ethnic cuisine is a standard of this city, so I admit, when I travel, I like to only eat the local cuisine. But is that always a smart thing to do?

Many cities have unique immigrant populations, which have influenced the local cuisine and brought their food traditions to a new place on earth – does this mean you shouldn’t try?

When I stayed at the Barcelo Bavaro Grand Deluxe Hotel in the Dominican Republic, the hotel had 11 different places to dine – and despite my initial gut reaction to focus on the local and Spanish cuisine, I went to try the Japanese restaurant Kyoto.

The restaurant was filled with patrons, the sounds of steam and cooking layered over the chatter of the guests. Our chef was friendly local, who went through the rituals of his cooking station, doing each step with a precision of the Japanese training.

As the steak, shrimp and fish hit the grill, the clouds of steam accentuated the cooking process, as the chef added in an acrobatic style as he seasoned and cooked – containers, food, knives – all kinds of things became props to his performance.

As guests nibbled on their appetizers, the chef’s ongoing demonstration of his training was peppered with flourishes of tossing things into the air, and showing the guests he’s more than just a chef, but its a floor show.

I was reminded of being a young child, and going to a Japanese restaurant, where the chef had done similar acts while cooking, making the simple act of making dinner a memorable experience that I could still recall – the chopping of vegetables, the flourishes with his knives and the pretty display of the final dish.

As the chef finished, and our food was divided amongst our plates, I was just as impressed with the experience. Although my foodie self has become more obsessed with ingredients and innovative local cuisine, sometimes its the classic styles that can a welcome reminder of having some fun and enjoying a meal.

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