"Kei Pilz cooks with the stern eye of an artist, a calling beautifully matched to the intricate presentations which Japanese food demands. Each plate deserves to be Polaroided into posterity before you carefully dissect the concordance of tastes which this food offers."
The tech may have changed, but the instinct to record has not. That was a phrase John wrote in 1992 to describe a meal in the iconic Shiro Japanese Dinner House. Two tables, a Michelin star, and an internationally-famed destination. The Shiro was run by Kei and Werner Pilz in their gothic Bishop's Palace in Ahakista in the far West Cork peninsula of Sheep's Head.
Here is one of the later menus, when the price went from £32 to £42 ( and this was topped with an additional charge of 5% if you used a credit card), and the tables doubled from two to four. The menu didn't change over the years: Zensai were little balls of minced fish and pork in an egg custard, some tofu with a ginger and garlic relish, noodles with crab meat, some radish and pumpkin with pork, miso soup. Suimoni came with tofu and cabbage greens. Sashimi included mackerel fished by Werner from his boat moored in Ahakista. Tempura was made from mushrooms – carved into the shape of a duck – along with fans of aubergine, julienned carrot, prawns and parsley. Ice cream was flavoured with mandarin. Every course was accompanied by a little piece of origami, and each table was given a bell, to ring if you wished to summon Werner, with his Luftwaffe background and his James Mason German accent (we never dared).
John wrote in 1992: "There is no dispute between techniques or intentions in Kei Pilz's food and ingredients are married and harmonised into a beautiful meal that, above all, assimilates the texture and sensuality of each ingredient. Booking is absolutely essential, and during the summer in particular, the restaurant books up months ahead."
Shiro Japanese Dinner House
Ahakista, Co Cork
Today's Menu consists of:
ZENSAI - A collection of seasonal Japanese appetizers with Azuke-Bachi comprising of Egg and Sushi snacks
ZUIMONO - which is a Japanese Seasonal Soup
Today's Choice of Maincourses
TEMPURA seasonal deep fried fish, squid, fresh vegetables and specially prepared prawns all dipped in special Tenzuyu Sauce
SASHIMI delicately prepared raw fish like salmon, bass, monkfish, tuna, squid, mackerel and other seasonal fish served with soya-sauce and wasabi
TEMPURA-SASHIMI COMBO half portions of Tempora and Sashimi as described above for those who cannot decide
SUSHI Craftfully prepared wide variety of raw fish and vegetable packed rice snacks with dried seaweed and wasabi, dipped in soya-sauce
SAKE-MUSHI Wild salmon steak delicately steamed with Japanese ginger and lemon, served with white sauce and vegetables
BEEF-TERIYAKI Strips of beef filet steaks gently roasted and prapared with a sake blended teriyaki sauce and fresh vegetables
QUAIL YAKITORI two tender jumbo quails grilled in a delicate ginger-yakitori sauce served with fresh vegetables