Kengo Kuma's Japan Unlayered ft. Waketokuyama Gozen Lunch Plates


If you've had a peek at my personal work, you'd know I've always been fascinated by the simplicity and minimalism found in Japanese architecture and design. Good design does not need to be overstated or overly decorative, and the most beautiful designs are always expressed in the most organic manner. If you are also captivated by the Japanese culture, Japan Unlayered is an exhibition for you.

Japan Unlayered (Jan. 27 to Feb. 28, 2017) — curated by master Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, and Vancouver-based development firms Westbank and Peterson, features mini-exhibits and pop-ups celebrating contemporary Japanese design, culture, architecture, and cuisine at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. The exhibition pays tribute to the Japanese philosophy of layering, where overlapping elements define an overall experience. It's a sensory experience that conveys culture through touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell. 


For this occasion, Chef Takayuki Omi of Fairmont Pacific Rim’s RawBar partnered up with Tokyo chef Hiromitsu Nozaki of 2 Michelin starred Waketokuyama restaurant to develop gozen (chef’s plate) lunches. Only ten will be available a day (by reservation) throughout the duration of Japan Unlayered. 

I haven't had the chance to personally visit a Michelin starred restaurant yet and since Vancouver isn't quite there, this is totally the next closest thing for me. 


Waketokuyama Gozen — you'll find 32 intricate components on your plate; thoughtfully prepared and beautifully presented. It takes a lot of love to execute, each lunch service takes at least eight hours to craft. On that note, let me try my best to break down each dish for you below —



roasted Wagyu beef with shiso, leek and tomato sauce • prawn & egg in dry rice mochi • simmered sweet pumpkin • sockeye salmon + nori rice • asparagus.



rolled cuttlefish with nori • deep-fried lotus root with shrimp and sansho pepper • minced chicken with miso "Matsukaze" style • rice with fried kale + sesame • green bean


The first time I met Chef Taka was at our local ramen joint, Benkei Ramen. Did you know that he's the brains behind the recipes? Since then, I've gotten familiar with his devotion to sharing the Japanese cuisine with us lucky Vancouverites.



taro root • sesame tofu "Rikyu Yose" • egg yolk sabayon • sablefish Saikyou miso grill • shrimp tempura coated with crispy mochi • rice with baby anchovy + dry soy beans • carrots • snow peas • nantew leaf • tamago



red tuna sashimi • sockeye salmon sashimi • ikura • grated mountain potato • radish • stuffed kumquat with sardine + powdered tofu • herring roe with kombu + katsuobushi 


Though we were not directed to eat the dishes in any specific order, Chef Taka noted that the components were flavoured to be enjoyed simultaneously. So it was recommended to have a little bit of everything at once and let the flavours "cook together in our mouths." 

All the beautifully constructed elements and vibrant colours on the plate were definitely a feast for the eyes, I didn't think these delicate dishes would be enough but this lunch was definitely substantial. For someone who loves her seafood, my highlights were the buttery miso sablefish, crunchy deep-fried lotus root with shrimp paste, ALL the sashimi, and the sardine with powdered tofu. I also loved that the rice from each dish were all flavoured differently. 


The perfect finish to a flavourful experience —  fresh fruits featuring grapes, blackberries, raspberries and sweet strawberries (but note the tea is not included)


To drink —

Layering No. 1 

green tea infused gin • Junmai Daigingo Sake • lemongrass • cucumber • lime • crabapple bitters


Waketokuyama Gozen is available during lunch during Japan Unlayered from January 27 through February 28. Fairmont Pacific Rim will offer 10 Gozen lunch plates per day, by reservation at $62 + taxes per person.


Are you intrigued to try this special experience?