Chef Kunio Tokuoka on The Fifth Sense

How does the Singaporean palate differ from the Japanese one?
I am still learning about Singapore and the local cuisine as I haven’t had a lot of free time to explore Singapore yet. As for the Singaporean palate, I’m learning about that on an experience by experience basis. In general, I’ve had to make the flavors stronger for my Singaporean guests.
Do you often experiment with different temperatures in your cooking?
I have a keen interest in the molecular structure of ingredients and how the application of heat affects it. As such, I am still looking to find the perfect temperature to achieve the heightening of flavor to the ultimate point, which involves manipulating naturally-occurring glutamic acid and inosinic acid in katsu and konbu, which I use to cook fish, meat and vegetables.
In your opinion, what is the best and most effective technique in enhancing umami?
The original meaning of umami is flavor. However, umami is also the word chosen to represent the fifth sense. Many people think the fifth sense is spicy, but spicy is a stimulant and not a sense. Scientists agree the fifth sense is umami. Both katsu and konbu have naturally occurring glutamic acid and inosinic acid, but the combination of the acids actually heightens umami by eight times. As an example, generally caviar is washed in salted water. However, I wash my own caviar not only in salt water but also in konbu dashi to enhance the flavor. 
How do you gauge a chef’s skill?
Taste is important but the most important thing to measure is guest satisfaction. If your guests are happy and satisfied, I believe that is the sign of great skill in a chef.