Hertog Jan in Bruges, Belgium “Turns Japanese” With Den Tokyo, Florilege Tokyo and La Cime Osaka

A Flemish-Japanese collaboration lunch and dinner between host Hertog Jan's Gert de Mangeleer and sous chef Jef Poppe, with with visting Tokyo-based chefs Zaiyu Hasegawa (Den) and Hiroyasu Kawate (Florilege), and Osaka-based Yusuke Takada (La Cime)

I was recently in Bruges, Belgium (my 1st time!) for a special Flemish-Japanese collaboration lunch and dinner between host chef Gert De Mangeleer (Hertog Jan | 3 Michelin Stars, No. 61 on World’s Best Restaurants) with visiting Tokyo-based chefs Zaiyu Hasegawa (Den | No. 11 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, No. 45 on World’s 50 Best Restaurants) and Hiroyasu Kawate (Florilege | No. 14 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants), and Osaka-based Yusuke Takada (La Cime | 2 Michelin Stars), in partnership with Visit Flanders and Art Flanders Japan.

You guys might remember that Hertog Jan cooked with my events platform Cross Cultures alongside Toyo Eatery this April as part of Madrid Fusion Manila in the Philippines.(Read about here.) So traveling to their home in Bruges– okay, it’s a 30-minute drive from the city center– was like coming full circle for me.

Where all the magic happened.. Hertog Jan <3
HERTOG JAN: Where all the magic happens
Tell me how cool are the chefs uniforms at Hertog Jan!!!
Tell me just how cool are the chefs uniforms at Hertog Jan! (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

While a lot of collaboration events have both sets of chefs showcase their own dishes, this series had that PLUS new dishes they collaborated on TOGETHER. It was an opportunity for the Japanese chefs and the international guests to get to know Flanders’ meats and produce, and for the Hertog Jan team and guests from Belgium to get to know Japanese influences and techniques– a crossing between Europe and Asia basically.

Chefs Hiroyasu Kawate of Florilege Tokyo and host chef Gert de Mangeleer sourcing produce at the Hertog Jan garden (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)
Chefs Hiroyasu Kawate of Florilege Tokyo and host chef Gert de Mangeleer sourcing produce at the Hertog Jan garden (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

Both collaborations took place in one day.  For lunch, it was Hertog Jan x La Cime. The reason for this is that “Chef Takada is the most Western-inspired among the Japanese chefs and uses a lot of French techniques,” explained Joachim Boudens, Hertog Jan co-owner and head sommelier. For dinner, it was Hertog Jan x Florilege x Den. “We then move to more typical Japanese flavors and techniques with Florilege somewhere in between, and Den being the most Japanese.” Apart from these, Gert maintains a great relationships with all chefs– having cooked at their kitchens (or is currently cooking– he’s in Japan at the moment!)– and their camaraderie shone both inside and outside the kitchen.

The Hertog Jan dining room. During both lunch and dinner service, we began with cocktails at the terrace overlooking the garden. All normal dinners at Hertog Jan begin with this, as well as a tour of the garden. (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)
The Hertog Jan dining room. During both lunch and dinner service, we began with cocktails at the terrace overlooking the garden. All normal dinners at Hertog Jan begin with this, as well as a tour of the garden. (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)
I must mention though this new product from Veuve Clicquot.. extra brut, extra dry, which they just launched! And Hertog Jan is the only restaurant in Belgium to carry it. Among the 3 champagne options for aperetif, I chose this. (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)
I must mention though this new product from Veuve Clicquot.. extra brut, extra old, which they just launched in April 2017! And Hertog Jan is the only restaurant in Belgium to carry it. Among the 3 champagne options for aperitif, I chose this. (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

But before I move onto the collaborations,  I need to highlight that as we were in Belgium– and the biggest welcome to this part of the world for me was Gert de Mangeleer’s take on the Belgian national dish, moules frites (mussels and fries). The mussels were lightly marinated and that one single fry had beautiful, intricate layers that I was really disappointed there was only one! (Why, Gert?! Lol.) This was the most dexterously crafted moules frites I’ve ever had, and I always love it when “fine dining” restaurants spin their techniques on their national dishes– a tribute to their country.

Considered Belgium's national dish, moules frites (mussels and fries) was so expertly done by Hertog Jan's Gert de Mangeleer. That one single fry had the most intricate layers, we all complained why there was only one! Lol. (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)
Considered Belgium’s national dish, moules frites (mussels and fries) was so expertly done by Hertog Jan’s Gert de Mangeleer. That one single fry had the most intricate layers, we all complained why there was only one! Lol. (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

In this blog post, I am going to zero in on the collaborative dishes— new dishes the chefs did together specially for the event– as this really shows how food can truly bring different cultures and cuisines together seamlessly. (We know how our world could use more harmony right now!) They also happen to be my favorite dishes.

LA CIME  x  HERTOG JAN

Michelin action! Yusuke Takada (La Cime Osaka, 2 Michelin stars) and Gert de Mangeleer (Hertog Jan, 3 Michelin stars)
Michelin action! La Cime Osaka’s (2 Michelin stars) Yusuke Takada and Hertog Jan’s (3 Michelin stars) Gert de Mangeleer (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

Duck and eel was the finale collaboration between Yusuke Takada (La Cime) and Gert de Mangeleer (Hertog Jan). Yusuke served a gorgeous duck breast with a smoked eel sauce with burnt paprika while Gert complemented the dish with duck liver, eel and young radish. It was a great showcase of not only their melange of cultures but also their synergy.

A Japanese-Flemish collaboration: duck prepared by Takada served a perfectly cooked aged duck breast with a smoked eel sauce which he served with ‘burnt’ paprika while Gert complemented the dish with duck liver, eel and young radish
A Japanese-Flemish collaboration: Yusuke Takada prepared lightly smoked duck breast with a smoked eel sauce and burnt paprika while Gert de Mangeleer complemented the dish with duck liver, eel and young radish (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

FLORILEGE x DEN  x  HERTOG JAN

For dinner, Florilege's Hiroyasu Kawate and Den's Zaiyu Hasegawa take over the kitchen with Hertog Jan's Gert de Mangeleer. It must be noted that Yusuke Takada was also so kindly helping out in the kitchen. (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)
For dinner, Florilege’s Hiroyasu Kawate and Den’s Zaiyu Hasegawa take over the kitchen with Hertog Jan’s Gert de Mangeleer. It must be noted that Yusuke Takada was also so kindly helping out in the kitchen throughout the evening. (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

The first collaboration dish this evening was between Hiroyasu Kawate (Florilege) and Gert de Mangeleer (Hertog Jan). It was cod– a bycatch fish– with crab sauce and parsley oil and garnished with male zucchini flowers and fennel blossoms (parts that are normally thrown away). It was an emphasis that this dish was actually all about food waste.“The concept of sustainability is very important for me,” shared Hiroyasu. “I wanted to use fish which [most people] don’t eat. It is very important to cook the waste– fish and crown. Chef Mangeleer told me that sustainability is respect. Respect for food, people, culture and history.'”

The first collaboration dish was between Hiroyasu Kawate (Florilege) and Gert de Mangeleer (Hertog Jan). It was cod - specifically a bycatch fish -with crab sauce and parsley oil and garnished with male zucchini flowers and fennel blossoms (parts that are normally thrown away). (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)
The first collaboration dish was between Hiroyasu Kawate (Florilege) and Gert de Mangeleer (Hertog Jan). It was cod – specifically a bycatch fish -with crab sauce and parsley oil and garnished with male zucchini flowers and fennel blossoms (parts that are normally thrown away). (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

The second collaboration dish was between Zaiyu Hasegawa (Den) and Gert de Mangeleer (Hertog Jan). It was eel grilled Japanese-style served with green herbs. (*Eel in green herbs sauce is a classic Flemish dish.) “Eel dishes are loved by both Japanese and Belgian, “Eel dishes are loved by both Japanese and Belgian, but the way eels are treated and cooked are totally different,’ shared Zaiyu. “I wanted to create a dish by mixing Belgian traditional styled eel dish with Japanese traditional styled eel, in order to create something new.'”

The second collaboration dish was between Zaiyu Hasegawa (Den) and Gert de Mangeleer (Hertog Jan): eel grilled Japanese-style served with green herbs. (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)
The second collaboration dish was between Zaiyu Hasegawa (Den) and Gert de Mangeleer (Hertog Jan): eel grilled Japanese-style served with green herbs. (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

“This dish resonated with me the most because it was a dish done by all three chefs! This was Flemish pigeon from Steenvorde and Japanese rice with a dashi of bonito flakes and pigeon bones. And… guess who did what? It was actually Japanese chefs Zaiyu and Hiroyasu who chose the pigeon and they challenged Flemish Gert to do the rice! So Gert added snails, grilled bone marrow and their own harvested mushrooms and the result was phenomenal– a crossing of cultures not only of Flemish and Japanese, but of Europe and Asia. What a nice surprise, right!?

This dish resonated with me the most because it was one dish done by all three chefs! This was Flemish pigeon from Steenvorde and Japanese rice with a dashi of bonito flakes and pigeon bones. (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)
This dish resonated with me the most because it was one dish done by all three chefs! This was Flemish pigeon from Steenvorde and Japanese rice with a dashi of bonito flakes and pigeon bones. (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

I also need to highlight that this was my first time to try juice-pairing (out of necessity really because I developed acidity earlier that day)…..I LOVED IT!!! I thought I was only capable of drinking water, coffee and alcohol but I surprised myself. Like wine, the acidity of the juices also cut through any richness but not without upholding their primary function of enhancing the dishes– even without even a drop of alcohol. Maybe I’ll start doing juice-pairing from now on…

Dessert of raspberry, whipped cream with vanilla, roses, fresh cheese, and sour candy powder by Gert de Mangeleer paired with juice of rose and raspberry syrup (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)
Dessert of raspberry, whipped cream with vanilla, roses, fresh cheese, and sour candy powder by Gert de Mangeleer paired with juice of rose and raspberry syrup (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)
All smiles after successful back-to-back events well done! (Photo by Mason Florence)
All smiles in the kitchen after successful back-to-back events well done! (Photo by Mason Florence)

This was such a wonderful event that brought together the beautiful Flemish/ Belgian and Japanese cultures– and Europe and Asia, basically. Thank you so much for having us Hertog Jan, Visit Flanders and Art Flanders Japan! xx

Big thank you to our hosts Joachim Boudens and Gert de Mangeleer of Hertog Jan!!!
Big thank you to our hosts Joachim Boudens and Gert de Mangeleer of Hertog Jan!!!
Thank you Hertog Jan!!! (And btw these awesome leather aprons are for sale) (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)
Thank you Hertog Jan!!! (And btw these awesome leather aprons are for sale) (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

*Stay tuned for my next blog post on things you shouldn’t miss while in the Flanders area of Bruges!

For more information on Hertog Jan, visit their website here. 

For more information on Visit Flanders, visit their website here.