Yuhi Fujinaga was born in Japan and raised in Honolulu, but is now serving up Spanish-influenced cuisine at the recently opened (and appropriately named) Bar Basque. Fujinaga spoke to Metro about how he came to love Basque cooking, but how he’s keeping it traditional this holiday season.
What drew you to the Basque way of cooking?
One of the interesting things about the Basque region is that it has become so modernized in recent years — especially with the opening of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. While I was there, I really was influenced not only by their culture but with their modernization as well. It’s that concept and drive I want to bring over here.
How would you describe Basque cooking to someone who isn’t familiar with it?
Basque food is more the method of cooking, which is over an open fire. I’d say 90 percent of their meats and fish are grilled that way. So at Bar Basque, we offer a selection on the menu that’s just that – simply grilled meat and fish.
What’s currently the most fun item on the menu for you to cook?
I’d say our crispy farm egg is the most fun and most playful item we do. It speaks to the Basque region, as it’s a farm-fresh dish. Basically, it’s olive oil and crushed potatoes with fire-roasted peppers, and then it’s topped with a flash-fried, breaded, soft-boiled egg. Spanish ham then wraps the whole egg.
Will you be doing something special for the holidays at home?
For Christmas, not so much. But being Japanese, I end up going back to my roots for a traditional dish. We celebrate tremendously on New Year’s Day. I usually take it off and I cook a traditional soup that consists of a sweet rice cake called Mochi with a soup that’s almost like a chicken consume made with dashi broth.