You might have heard the good news: we're having a baby! Well, a book baby, that is. After years of bringing you the best of the best of travel tips on the web, we decided to take pen (or printing press) to page & bring you an amazing, practical, beautiful guidebook to the city that is nearest & dearest to our heart. Which city is that, you ask? Why, Amsterdam of course! So now it's time for the countdown to begin.
As our publishing date grows ever closer, we want to give you some sneak peeks into what's to come to get you as excited as we are. Our book is nothing without the incredible shops, restaurants, bars & businesses we love, so it's important to us that you get to know them a bit as well. That's why, until the launch of our book, we are going to be bringing you interviews with the inspiring founders of some of our very favourite spots.
Today, we have the pleasure of introducing you to Kit Thanyakulsajja, the sushi wizard concocting one of the most interesting, exciting dining experiences in the city, Kit at 384 . We couldn't be more jealous that he gets to create the most beautiful omakase around; what about you? Keep reading to find out what makes this unparalleled sushi master tick.
gloobles: So, we must admit: we're super excited to have finally gotten the chance to interview you! We've been big fans of yours ever since you were running your omakase out of your dorm room. Can you tell us about your first experience with sushi?
Kit: My formative exposure to sushi has been documentaries actually. In the early 2000s, Japanese media was still dominating many markets in Asia, specifically Thailand. It captured my imagination in the sense that raw proteins were barely touched upon anywhere else, yet in Japan, more specifically Tokyo, it had become a whole discipline. It was only when I turned 14 that I acquired a taste for raw seafood. I instinctively avoided casual sushi in Thailand, as I felt the craft I had read about & watched all these years was so far above what was available to me. It was a casual/technical sushi place in Hokkaido that converted me, having me eat & appreciate sushi, rather than just reading & watching documentaries about it.
gloobles: That's quite interesting actually. It's rare that this deep a passion would arise from the theoretical rather than a sensory experience of something. What fascinates you about the art of making sushi?
Kit: It has always seemed to me that sushi is a subset of food that addresses the concepts, complexity, depth & sensitivity in a way that seems denser than many other food genres, Japanese or otherwise. I think instinctively I noticed that raw proteins are chemically dynamic in a way that cooked foods are not, how seemingly minute changes in savory acids, oils & minerals can completely change the expression of the raw protein.
gloobles: Yeah, we imagine the lines are much finer when you're working with delicate, raw proteins. Where & when did you learn to make sushi?
Kit: Two months into university, I started to procrastinate by using local market fish for sushi practice, as well as general cooking. Having been exposed to high-level omakase sushi back in Bangkok from the age of 15, I was able to text & ask these highly skilled chefs, borrowing from their wealth of knowledge.
gloobles: So it was obviously very helpful to you that you'd built these relationships from a young age. We guess you could call them mentors, of sorts. How would you describe your style?
Kit: In short, "in progress". I would say it's circumstantial, given the fishing practices & the fact that the fishing industry here is not developed to allow for the best raw seafood possible, I find myself borrowing a lot from old-school techniques (edomae or edo-style), which are characterised by preservation & seasoning that's on the heavier side.This is to address limitations of certain ingredients. In terms of my taste and ideal style, I am working to shift my food towards cleaner flavours and more roundedness.
gloobles: We can't wait to see how you continue to evolve! Can you walk us through a typical day at Kit 384?
Kit: Since I have an assistant now, I have more flexible hours than before. Days are not very standard, as most prep will be done Thursday & Friday. The rest of the week has more to do with maintaining & finishing prepped ingredients.
gloobles: Somehow we're not surprised it's always changing for you. Speaking of change, how have things changed since you were hosting your omakase in your dorm room?
Kit: Working in a shared kitchen comes with its limitations. The people I share the kitchen with are great chefs & hardworking people that I can always learn something from; having said that, there was just greater freedom back in the dorms. I guess that's part of growing up. On the other hand, I have had much more time to refine & develop parts of my skill-set that has helped inform me greatly about the direction I might want to take in the future in terms of stylistic choices.
gloobles: Exactly. There are always pros & cons to any situation. What are your views on the state of Japanese food in the Netherlands?
Kit: I think there is great potential for Japanese food in the Netherlands. Once the fishing industry work more closely to implement killing, bleeding & transporting techniques that are more raw food-friendly, then basically a whole new frontier can open up & a whole new level of sensitivity & complexity of seafood will exist. On top of that, the Netherlands has a certain importing opportunity from Japan that neighbouring countries do not have. Ultimately, the world is moving towards locality in favour of sustainability, but this is an important stage that can allow for greater exchange of knowledge & competition.
gloobles: So hopefully things will just continue to get better & better because, if you ask us, it was pretty impossible to get great sushi before you came around. When you're not cooking, where do you like to eat? Do you like to eat at home? Are you cooking when you are?
Kit: Honestly, so much of my food identity is shaped by comfort foods & processed foods. I still consume plenty of chips & gummy bears on a daily basis, &, since working with raw proteins on a daily basis, I now have a much stronger taste for fried foods simply because they're the antithesis of raw seafood. Being a Gen-Zer, I am hardly ever bothered to properly cook myself a proper mean. Since starting to cook full-time, I have tried to develop greater range of taste & go out of my comfort zone, but, for now, these are pretty much my food habits.
gloobles: Hey, we don't blame you for that! We're suckers for fried food too. What's your favourite Japanese restaurant in the world?
Kit: Japanese food is really many different disciplines, so I woudn't group sushi with kaiseki, yakitori, unagi, shojin ryori or ramen. Each genre has very different positions in relation to the certainty of the cannon of what Japanese food is. And within one genre, I appreciate many different schools of styles, so picking favourites has always been difficult. For now, I will just say Shimbashi Shimizu is a restaurant that speaks to a form of sushi ideal I have.
gloobles: We are absolutely going to have to check that out! If you're not in the kitchen, what do you like to do?
Kit: I have taken the rich university social life for granted, so I find myself trying to find more friends & socialise generally in working life. I believe we all find ourselves correcting life imbalances, & this is one instance of it.
gloobles: We can imagine that, with the crazy hours & lifestyle of a chef, it can be difficult to have a normal social life. Which chefs, if any, do you look up to?
Kit: Chef Run of In the Mood for Love in Ekamai, Bangkok, has long been a person I take inspiration from. As far as foreign chefs who work in Japanese food, I am confident that he is as skilled & intelligent as they come. He is also a person I look up to for the fact that he is unapologetically himself.
gloobles: That unapologetic authenticity is probably also part of what makes him such a great chef. Your work is as beautiful as it is delicious. What's the process of crafting such beautiful things like?
Kit: Thank you! Everyone, of course, has different preferences when it comes to aesthetics, but in sushi there are also conflicting schools of thought in terms of whether or not form is flavour. I am of the school of thought that form is flavour, so I always work towards having better command over the knife, volume control & general execution. I always experiment to develop my hand & knife skills, so it's all very much in development.
gloobles: It may be in development, as you say, but, if you ask us, we'd say it's pretty damn polished already. What are your thoughts on using local vs imported ingredients?
Kit: I feel like one can only achieve food that has something to say with depth & density by using local ingredients, as importing comes with limitations of breadth & depth of choice & condition. Having said that, I have to import many plant-based ingredients from Japan simply because the discipline of sushi is very biodiversity-specific to a very particular place.
gloobles: Speaking of very particular places, what's on your travel bucket list?
gloobles: Alright, last one: If you could cook for any person in the world, who would it be?
Kit: In this case I would use the opportunity to cook for them more for the conversation than for the food. I would like to serve someone like Donald Glover, as I have always found multi-talented ness very fascinating. It's almost as if you have to have multiple identities to achieve what he has with such depth.