Review: Shojin Ryori – The Art of Japanese Vegetarian Cuisine by Danny Chu

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Reviewer: Miss Cai”][vc_column_text]About the Book
Shojin ryori is the art of Japanese vegetarian cuisine that originated from the Japanese Zen temples, but is today widely popular all over the world for its healthful and well-balanced meals prepared without meat, fish, eggs or dairy products.

With clearly written step-by-step instructions and insightful cooking tips, chef Danny Chu of Enso Kitchen will show you how to transform simple, readily available ingredients into creative, flavourful and satisfying shojin ryori meals in your home kitchen.

About the Author 
Danny Chu is a former foreign currency trader who left the corporate world and followed his passion to Japan to learn more about shojin ryori, the art of Japanese Zen cuisine. With hard work and unwavering determination, Danny mastered traditional Zen temple cooking and became the first shojin ryori chef in Singapore.

He ran Enso Kitchen for several years, delighting both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike with his creative dishes, and garnered rave reviews from the media, including Wine & Dine, Travel+Leisure, BBC Good Food, Appetite, The Peak, Business Times and Channel News Asia.

Today, Danny is based in Taiwan but returns to Singapore every quarter to organise lunch and dinner sessions which are eagerly anticipated and quickly snapped up once bookings open.

Ning’s Review
After graduating from my intensive 200-hour yoga teacher training (YTT) course at Vikasa Yoga in Koh Samui, I continued on to travel to Japan where I learnt the Japanese way of Reiki energy healing from a talented Osaka native who had first learn the Tanaka method aboard, before seeking Hiroshi Doi sensei’s 現代霊気法 approach when she was back in Nakano.

Back in bustling city life after being in quiet solitude, I was also grappling with the change of not only my environment – but of food. I had become accustomed to a clean vegan diet and didn’t quite find the texture, taste, sight and sight of meat as appealing. So I was grateful when Yuko-sensei invited me to join her for a shojin ryori meal before our intensive course.

I never had a shojin ryori meal before and was curious about traditional Zen temple food. My reiki teacher knew of a place hidden in an old neighbourhood that served authentic shojin ryori meals. The traditional Japanese inn was run by an elderly Buddhist couple who radiated wonderful energy and their food reflected it.

My first shojin ryori experience was incredible. Their food was fresh, clean yet exquisitely mysterious with layers of different flavours; their presentation was delightful and it was obvious that the food was made with lots of love and awareness. I was filled with overwhelming thanks and gratitude at the end of the delightful meal; each dish like poetry on your plate. In fact, I always make it a point to go back to Bon every time I’m back in Japan.

So finding Singaporean chef Danny Chu’s book about shojin ryori made me giddy with delight. Going through its pages helped me recall that beautiful memory which made my palate sing. The 168-page hardcover is filled with many recipes based on the four seasons, and is also accompanied by many mouth-watering pictures in full colour.

I also appreciated that the author shared a little about shojin ryori’s philosophy so readers who may not know of its Zen traditions would get a better understanding, since shojin ryori meal is really a lot more than just vegetarian Japanese food.

Chu’s shojin ryori recipes though authentic, are simple to follow and are very inspiring. It definitely made me want to try making my own goma tofu, shiso rice and mochi balls! It left me hoping that he would write a second book with more challenging recipes.

My dharma teacher friend Shen Shi’An was kind to inform me when Taiwan-based Chu was in town (he had tried Chu’s food the year before) and I was lucky to be able to get a lunch reservation. As suspected, Chu’s food was an accurate reflection of his book. Simpler than what I had in Bon, but true to its shojin ryori essence, it was an enjoyable meal that left the body feeling light.

If you’re interested in Japanese culture, the philosophy of shojin ryori, Zen Buddhism or wish to whip up a very different kind of vegetarian cuisine for your home party that is different from what we are familiar with here in South East Asia, I would say Danny Chu’s Shojin Ryori – The Art of Japanese Vegetarian Cuisine is for you.

The book recently won the “Best in the World” award in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards (Japanese Cuisine category) so hearty congratulations to first time author Chu indeed.

Published by Marshall Cavendish and distributed by Pansing, you can find this wonderful book at all good bookstores. Highly recommended.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]9789814516280[/vc_column_text][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”gp-standard-sidebar”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Ning Cai is a Singapore Literature Prize nominated author, who was also long listed for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2016. A bestselling writer, she is also recognised for her illusionist/ escapologist stage character Magic Babe Ning, and recognised by Channel News Asia as South East Asia's first professional female magician.

Table of Contents

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