The Making of a Menu

Over the years I’ve done a fair number of food and beverage photo shoots and while my images end up on various platforms, online and offline, this was the first time I had an opportunity to provide creative input for the design of the restaurant menu itself. The brief changed several times throughout the design phase but we were able to eventually knock out a visually attractive piece of work. Personally, I’m proud of the end product. The client went with a full-bleed A3 page design that does justice to the images captured. It’s stunning to look at.

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I’m not terribly adventurous when it comes to food, more so when it involves cuisine that is either semi-cooked or raw. I like my meats certified dead i.e. cooked to death.

I’ve never been able to wrap my head around Japanese cuisine save for perhaps their deep fried offerings. It’s too much for my limited palate. It’s indeed an acquired taste and one I’m unlikely to attain in this lifetime. Yes, I’m sure I’m missing out but no thanks. Just like Durian, something I grew up with around me but one fruit I’m doubtful I’ll try, ever.

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It’s got to be said, Japanese fine dining in its presentation alone is almost art form like. Dish plating is eye popping with bright colours, varied textures, all intricately put together with equally stunning plate designs that complete that unmistakable oriental look and feel.

Of course exotic ingredients are the hallmark of Japanese cuisine with anything from eel, fish and quail eggs and plenty of raw fish, all of which are masterfully sliced, diced and served up in an infinite variety of ways. Its just so beautiful to look at, it’s almost a shame to dig in and destroy these works of art by the chefs who so painstakingly put them together.

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This was the first F&B shoot where I used a horizontally mounted speed light with a honeycomb grid as my main light and a shoot through umbrella for fill light to lighten the shadows cast on the table. The idea was to create a natural vignette while placing emphasis on the dish itself. The challenging part however was trying to figure out how to shoot the dishes themselves as the plates they were presented in came in all shapes and sizes.

Being involved with the end-to-end production of this menu, I also learnt a few things about composition at the source. I had to think ahead how the images would be used with the end product in mind. Leaving blank spaces around the dishes for text forced me to rethink overall picture composition and depth of field that would work in the menu.

It was a visual feast for the eyes. I wouldn’t be able to tell you how they taste but for those who love Japanese cuisine, I’m sure you won’t leave disappointed. And don’t forget to check out the rest of the menu, I designed it.

Uroko Yakitori Sushi 
22-1, Jalan 17/54, Seksyen 17,
46400 Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

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