From the basement of this hybrid hotel-ryokan in Otemachi, chef Noriyuki Hamada prepares a nine-course kaiseki meal that changes daily but always revolves around local seafood, plated up with a French twist. His signature Five Flavors of Delight amuse-bouche offers five jewel-like mouthfuls balanced on smooth white stones of varying temperatures, each representing a different taste: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami. Hamada is also an avid forager and often incorporates his finds into his creations. The design pays homage to Japanese minimalism and nature, with rock formations and clay walls.
Within its traditional garden fringed with bamboo, chefs serve up food spiked with mountain flavours, such as salt-crusted grilled ayu (river fish) in the summer months or matsutake mushroom rice in autumn. Wash down these delicate morsels with some take-sake (bamboo sake) while lounging on tatami mats and gazing out into the green.
In the heart of Roppongi lies this serene spot, where head chef Daisuke Nomura presents a modern, unorthodox spin on shojin ryori – Buddhist vegetarian devotional food that harks back to the Zen masters of the 13th century. Though some of the dishes contain eggs and katsuobushi (skipjack tuna) broth, the food otherwise eschews meat and fish.
This fine yet humble-looking diner in Minato’s Akasaka district punches well above its weight, having bagged a coveted Michelin star. Despite this, the small, down-to-earth restaurant, adorned with ceramics and illustrations, still offers relatively affordable prices. Aside from its kaiseki offerings, Kien also has a ¥1,700 (S$21) weekday lunch set.
This restaurant (currently number two on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list) is helmed by chef Zaiyu Hasegawa, who aims to cook in the space between high-end kaiseki and cheerful izakaya. Den serves a seasonal eight-course Japanese kaiseki with European flair and a playful attitude: overseas customers might be greeted in their language.
SEE ALSO: Neighbourhood spotlight: Kuramae, Tokyo
This article was originally published in the January 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine