Bhutan

Fragrance beyond domestic matsutake? One-star chef choice…|NIKKEI STYLE

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In the residual heat of summer, the breath of autumn began to float in the air. The king of seasonal flavors is matsutake. Matsutake that cannot be artificially cultivated is mainly due to the reduction of its natural Korean pine forests, and domestic production only accounts for a few percent of the circulation. Matsutake is mostly imported, but there is one production area that has received a lot of attention in recent years. Bhutan is a country in South Asia, known as the happiest country in the world.

It is said that Bhutan matsutake has the same aroma and taste as domestic matsutake, but the price is much cheaper. It is said that major department stores and Michelin star restaurants are using it. FUI Japan (Minato, Tokyo, hereinafter referred to as FUI) has developed a large market.

A precision equipment sales company transformed into a matsutake company

FUI’s main business is the manufacture and sale of precision instruments such as radiation detectors. Hiroya Ueyama, who is in charge of the matsutake business of the company, revealed that the company’s main business made him pay attention to matsutake. Immediately after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company, the company measured the concentration of radioactive substances in wild mushrooms in the affected area and found high levels.

So the company thought, “Why don’t we import from a country that is safe overseas?” Among mushrooms, matsutake was targeted because they were only natural, so they sold at a high price, and they thought it was a great opportunity for a small company as a A new business is available.

Picking in one of the production areas of Ula village in central Bhutan (photo courtesy of Bhutan Matsutake Shop)

About 70% of matsutake mushrooms are imported from China, followed by Canada and the United States. However, Michelin in Omotesando, Tokyo gave its seal of approval, saying “Canadian and American matsutake mushrooms are different from domestic matsutake mushrooms, so they are white in color and have a distinctly different appearance and aroma. Bhutanese mushrooms are almost the same, there are better ones quality.” Hideo Mochizuki, the owner of the one-star restaurant “Japanese Cuisine Tatsuki”. Mr. Ueyama was a customer of the restaurant during his training, so he has been using Bhutanese matsutake ever since FUI started importing matsutake.

“I once asked the performers of a TV show to eat rice made of Bhutanese and domestic matsutake, and they made a mistake when they said which one was domestic.” Mochizuki said.

All matsutake mushrooms in Bhutan are grown at an altitude of about 3,000 meters. In Japan, there are no forests where matsutake mushrooms can be harvested at that altitude. The reason why Bhutan grows at such a high altitude is that it is at the same latitude as Okinawa and Amami Oshima. The climate is similar to that of Nagano, and it is the main production area of ​​domestic matsutake. Production areas are located around the capital Thimphu in the west of the country, and in the east of central Bhutan. The main production area is the village of Jeneka near Thimphu. This location is one of the strengths of Bhutanese products.



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