Garces gets inspired on 'Next Iron Chef'

If The Next Iron Chef experience has taught Jose Garces one thing, it's a new appreciation of Japanese cuisine.

Garces and fellow contestants spent 10 days there this spring to shoot several episodes of the Food Network cooking battle, whose finale will be Sunday night (11/22).

Garces doesn't serve Japanese-anything at his stable of restaurants (Amada, Tinto, Chifa, Distrito, Village Whiskey, Mercat a la Planxa), but he says he was blown away by takoyaki.

"It's an octopus fritter that I had in Tokyo," Garces told me during a phone chat.

He plans to bend the rules and put it on the menu in a few weeks at Chifa, his Chinese-Latin place at 707 Chestnut St.