The aromatic whiff of a peanut sauce more familiar to taste buds of diners about 5,000km away, wafted through the air in Tokyo yesterday as a team of hospitality students from Northlight School sold their fusion "satay temaki" creation at a food fair.
Their dish marries Singapore's satay with Japan's temaki sushi hand roll - a cone-shaped piece of seaweed wrapped around rice and other fillings.
The 50 rolls that were prepared, going for 500 yen (S$6.70) each, sold out within an hour after sales began at 11.45am (10.45am Singapore time). The fair was held at the high-end Marunouchi shopping street in central Tokyo.
Fourth-year student Muhammad Firdaus Muhammad Zulkhifli, 17, said: "Satay stood out for us as a dish that is similar to the popular Japanese street food yakitori." Yakitori is a skewered meat dish similar to satay. His teammate, Amshyar Khan, 16, said he saw similarities in the ketupat rice cake that accompanies a satay dish and Japanese sushi rice.
This was the concept behind their dish, made by wrapping ingredients such as lettuce, egg, cucumber, onion, rice and satay chicken in seaweed and then dousing it in a piquant satay sauce.
SOMETHING IN COMMON
Satay stood out for us as a dish that is similar to the popular Japanese street food yakitori.
FOURTH-YEAR STUDENT MUHAMMAD FIRDAUS MUHAMMAD ZULKHIFLI
The four-member team also comprises Lim Li Lin, 16, and Shavonne Sherrell Surash, 15, though the latter was not present as she took ill just before the trip.
The two-day annual Japan Harvest fair, which ends today, also features booths from local agriculture and food businesses. The event has the backing of Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Ministry of Education.
Into its fifth year, the fair also has a school outreach programme. It is the first time a Singapore school is taking part. The students join a team from a Taiwan vocational institute, as well as nine local high school teams from nine different prefectures, including Hokkaido in Japan's north and Okinawa in the south.
The brief to the Singapore team was to create an original dish with elements of both Japanese and Singaporean cuisines.
Manga creator Yuto Tsukuda, 30, who is behind the series Food Wars and a panellist for the event, said the satay sauce was a "pleasant fit" to the traditional temaki roll that Japanese folk are used to.
"I think this dish has a very high standard," he said, adding that he sees a lot of potential in it.
The team from Northlight School - a specialised school that takes in those who failed the Primary School Leaving Examination - told The Straits Times they aspire to become chefs in future.
Two of them - Firdaus and Amshyar - have secured Shatec scholarships, while Li Lin said she hopes to run a pastry business.
Their vice-principal, Ms Jayvin Yeo, said the event has been an excellent opportunity for the students to "practise customer service and entrepreneurial skills to win new customers to purchase their newly created product".