Ask the Chef

Seiji Kusano, from the northwest of Tokyo, is the head chef at Japanese restaurant Seiji.

Best dish
"I like white meat [fish]. It is a very fine taste. Fugu fish [or blow fish] in December is the best meat. It has zero fat and all protein. But it is very dangerous -- poisonous. If 300 people eat it, they can all die from one touch of the kidney. You have to really trust the chef."

Most popular dish
"Sashimi. We bring in all kinds of fish. There are 6,000 different kinds on the market in Tokyo, and we can bring anything people ask for. ... Soon we will have fresh sea urchins."

Favorite (other) restaurant in Moscow
"I like the German restaurant five minutes' walk away, Bavarius. I like the beer, shrimp and sausage."

Favorite (other) restaurant worldwide
"I don't go to many restaurants, though I have opened 35 all over the world. If they are not Japanese, I don't know what to eat. I just go to drink!"

Weirdest thing you have ever eaten

"Salo. You know, the national Ukrainian dish of salted pork fat. It is 100 percent pure cholesterol."

How do you try to keep your cuisine authentic in the local market?
"In January, we started the Japanese Chef Association to help teach the right techniques. Now I have a chef from Siberia learning in my kitchen."

Do you adapt the cuisine to the local market?
"The taste is totally different from in Japan. If I make a totally Japanese taste here, nobody will like it. ... Russians like simpler dishes and stronger tastes."

Comment on the state of the local dining scene
"With the Soviet past, there is no understanding of sales or service here. You can't find good service. It's Russian style: the highest price, but the service is 20 years behind."

What is the most important or surprising thing you've learned as a chef?
"Not many people want to learn to cook the right way. For example, if people want to be professional, they have to spend money. They have to buy a good knife. They can spend $300 on a knife that will last 10 years; my knife costs $2,000 with a lifetime guarantee."

Bavarius, 21/10 Komsomolsky Prospekt, 245-2395, M. Frunzenskaya.

Seiji, 5/2 Komsomolsky Prospekt, 246-7624, M. Park Kultury,