TRANSLATION | Eugenia Yang
步入濟南路民宅小巷，沈穩幽暗的木門顯得分外醒目，一格格雞舍意象的巧思，勾起食客對於燒鳥料理的無限想像。潛心於炭火與雞肉之間，每一次的翻轉拿捏皆是光陰淬煉下的積累，「希望台灣的優秀雞種可以被國際看見，要宣導這件事情，必須是一間專門店才有可能放大。」TORISHOU 鳥翔主廚 Tank 如此說著，堅持每日親自拆解全雞，將細緻日料手法添入西餐思維，以篤定的目光與心志，企圖為台灣燒鳥界拓展新里程碑。
曾擔任東京田町鳥心料理長，修業於染乃井鐵板懷石時代 1931 居酒屋、鱗漁場、101 代官山居食屋等，主廚 Tank 擁有豐厚燒鳥經驗。提起專研雞肉料理的緣由，他說那是在日本初次品嚐時的悸動，「台灣分解的方式跟日本不一樣，經過分解跟串這兩個動作，可以帶來不同的風味跟口感，這是讓我比較驚豔的。」相對難熟的雞肉特性，其炭火的精準掌控也顯得關鍵，靠實戰逐步摸索之餘，面臨接踵而來的不可控變因，如空氣接觸、木炭粗細、抽風強弱等，每日未知的挑戰皆讓 Tank 樂此不疲，分秒專注廚房的辛勤身影，也悄然映照了主廚的個人特質「靦腆、認真、刻苦耐勞。」他緩緩笑答。
為呈現Q彈肉質與飽滿油脂，主廚 Tank 特選屏東大武山「金璟雞」作為主食材，與台灣本地飼育業者岩生築見合作，量身訂製的獨家雞種使風味與口感達到完美平衡，「簡單來說，這隻雞的風味只有在這間店才吃得到。」每日耗費六小時的拆解過程，對 Tank 來說儼然是上工前的靜心修煉，不僅造就細膩完整的三十餘種部位，更將被動化為主動，打破過往食材供應的限制，以雙手締造燒鳥板前的無窮可能。其中不可錯過的一大亮點，便是與嵜本高級生吐司所聯名的「雞肝慕絲嵜本西多士」，歷經一年的研發時間，不論配方比例、慕絲口感、吐司厚度等，皆是無數測試下的最佳成品。Tank 更悄悄透露有不少靈感擷取於街邊小吃，如雞肝慕絲嵜本西多士源自冰火菠蘿油，雞白湯椀物則出自台南牛肉湯，笑說溼冷季節來一碗熱湯暖胃，是件幸福又合理的事。
十五歲，一個懵懂無知的青春年華，卻是 Tank 立定志向的起點，爾後赴日習藝，更讓他深刻體悟職人精神所展現的心無旁騖，「整個氛圍讓我感覺到這件事情，每個人都是在享受工作，當客人進來時又是另一個專業的表現，印象非常深刻。」對他來說，抱有熱情已是基本，更重要的則是一顆「覺悟的心」，「如果沒有要全心全意投入，可能會比較不適合專門店，像我不會把它當作是一個工作。」進而分享一名好的主廚，應當具備接受評論的廣闊胸懷，時刻砥礪並強化自我，體現從一而終的極致追求，「邊做料理的同時，也邊在訓練自己的心智能力，我覺得這是餐飲比較有趣的地方。」話語不多的他，貫注於雞肉與炭火間的炯炯目光正說明了一切。
The First Time
From being the head chef of Tokyo Tamachi Torishin to working at Somenoi, Linyuchang, Daikanyama Resutoran and more, Chef Lee has acquired extensive experience in yakitori. His first time trying the cuisine in Japan was an experience that inspired him to dive into the world of yakitori. “Dismantling is done differently in Taiwan and Japan. I was fascinated by the difference in flavor and texture when the dismantling and skewing methods were changed.” In comparison with other types of meat, chickens are known to be harder to cook-thorough, which makes the precision in temperature a crucial element. Gradually figuring out the right way through endless trials and error, Lee also encountered uncontrollable variables, such as air contact, charcoal size, controlling ventilation and more. In spite of the unpredictability, he enjoys the daily challenges and continues to work hard in the kitchen with absolute focus—a perfect reflection of his personality: bashful, earnest and hardworking.
As we enter the alleys of Jinan Road residentials, the dark wooden door, covered in grids reminiscent of chicken houses, comes into view. Focusing on the essence of the connection between the charcoal fire and the meat, each turn of the chicken relies on the experience accumulated over time. “I hope that Taiwan’s high-quality chicken breed can be seen internationally and to achieve that, the only way is to open a specialty restaurant,” says Tank Lee, head chef of TORISHOU. Combining Western mindset into Japanese culinary methods, he insists on dismantling the whole chicken himself every day. With a burning dedication, he sets his eyes on the future and aspires to reach a new milestone for the Taiwanese yakitori industry.
Creating Exclusive Flavors
In order to bring out the soft but chewy texture of the meat, Chef Lee specifically chose the Goldneck Chicken originated from Dawu Mountain in Pingtung, Taiwan as the central ingredient of the menu. In partnership with local Taiwanese breeder Roksn, they found the perfect balance that showcased the customized flavor and texture. The six-hour long dismantling process serves as a meditation exercise before he starts working for the day. Not only does the procedure produce over 30 different delicate and complete parts, but it also turns passivity into action. By breaking the limitation of ingredients, Lee has discovered the endless possibilities of yakitori omakase. Of all the dishes served, the Chicken Liver Pâté with SAKImoto Toast is definitely a must-have, an exclusive collaboration with SAKImoto Bakery. From the recipe, texture of the pâté, to the thickness of the toast, every component of the signature dish is a product that took over a year to perfect. Sharing the concept behind his menu, Lee also reveals that many of it was inspired by street food. For example, the Chicken Liver Pâté with SAKImoto Toast actually came from the classic Cantonese snack, pineapple bun with butter, while the clear chicken broth was modeled after Tainan’s famous beef soup. Laughing, he says it is very reasonable and nice to have a bowl of hot soup amid this chilling season.
At the age of 15, a youthful age of ignorance, Lee had already set his life goal. His time spent studying culinary arts in Japan taught him the spirit of professionalism lies within absolute focus. “The whole atmosphere was a testament to that. Everyone was enjoying their work, however, they were able to put on a whole other professional performance as soon as the guests came in, which was very impressive.” To Lee, having passion is a basic, what’s more important is to have an enlightened heart. “If you are not ready to give everything you’ve got, then perhaps opening a specialty restaurant is not the best choice. I never really see it as merely a job.” Furthermore, Lee finds the ability to stay open-minded to criticism as the key to becoming a good chef. Only by improving our strengths and understanding our weaknesses can we continue to strive for greatness. “The interesting thing about culinary arts is that you get to cook and train your mentality at the same time.” A rather taciturn person, Chef Lee sets his focus on the meat and the grill in front of him, perfectly showcasing his dedication and determination.