Monaka, usually a Japanese sweet, stuffed with foie gras, persimmon and pickles
Jimbocho, Kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
+81 3 3222 3978
Chief reason to visit: 37-year-old chef Zaiyu Hasegawa’s ingenuity and intent to make his diners smile is paramount. Playful presentation is supported with technically savvy skills to create modern kaiseki, a type of Japanese cuisine involving a series of small, intricate dishes.
Culinary childhood: As a young boy, Hasegawa preferred making things to studying, but he always managed to get straight As in home economics. He started his cooking career in a restaurant at 18, working alongside his mother while pretending she was a stranger to avoid any judgement. At 29, he opened Den, driven by the desire to cook what he wanted, with no one to answer to.
Typical plates: International influences can be found as light touches on traditional Japanese cuisine in Hasegawa’s eight-course menu. The offering changes with the seasons, but what’s consistent is the quality and creativity. Enjoy the signature garden salad composed of 20 vegetables reaped daily (practically the whole garden) or chicken wings presented in a fast-food takeaway box.
Where is it? The adventure begins with attempting to locate the restaurant. Turn down a small alley by a 7-11 store and continue on for 15 metres, keeping eyes peeled for the discreet sign.
Organic addition: The chef’s sister is an organic farmer who regularly supplies the restaurant with fresh produce.
Images: Andrea Fazzari (dishes)