Over the Garden Wall: Kenji Ito

Travelling to McLaren Vale, Klemzig and the city to shoot chefs and cooks in their garden of choice, we get a flavour of what inspires some of this state’s gastronomic identities from their backyard and beyond.

There aren’t many cities where you can live 10 minutes out of the CBD and have a kitchen garden as majestic as Kenji Ito’s.

The Japanese-born chef, who opened his famed eponymous restaurant a decade ago, uses his backyard garden to supply his Hutt Street restaurant with Japanese and Asian ingredients that are either seldom found in Australia or are easier for him to grow from his Klemzig backyard.

Ito, who set up his garden seven years ago specifically to serve at his restaurant, is a keen gardener as his dream many years ago was to open a restaurant and grow vegetables.

“In Japan, lots of restaurants grow their own vegetables,“ Ito says.

“The reason why I came to Adelaide was that I can own a restaurant and grow vegetables. That’s what I wanted to do.”

Some of the herbs, fruits and vegetables to be found in Ito’s garden include yuzu, Japanese ginger, watercress, wasabi rocket, radicchio, mustard spinach and sansho pepper.

“Japanese herbs are very hard to get,” he says.

“That’s why I wanted to grow my own herbs and vegetables. Also, it’s good for our staff to study how they grow and learn the seasons.”

And everything he grows is featured on the menu of his restaurant, Kenji.


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