Poetic food deeply connected to Japan’s natural environment
Wonderment is Yoshihiro Narisawa’s stock in trade. As the restaurant has eased past the decade mark, the chef’s love of the poetry of the natural world has come ever more to the fore in his menus. Today his dishes share many qualities of the best haiku: restrained and highly thoughtful without being austere or anything less than generous. Narisawa – the restaurant, the man and his food – are all deeply in tune with the landscape and the moment.
Though this is a decidedly international restaurant – more cosmopolitan in its outlook than many of its Tokyo contemporaries, and with a distinct French bedrock to its cooking – unique Japanese products are still the focal point. These include fugu from Aichi prefecture, skewered, grilled and served with sudachi citrus; or irabu sea snake from Okinawa transformed into an elegant broth abob with cubes of taro. The now-famed ritual of fermenting and baking the bread at the table, meanwhile, takes place amidst an extraordinary nest of twigs and leaves.
The drinks programme is just as compelling. This might well be the best place in the world to develop a nuanced appreciation of the winemaking of Japan, with pinot noir from Nagano, riesling lion from Iwate, aged Bordeaux-style blends from Yamagata and beyond. This alluring combination results in the restaurant enjoying a stellar international reputation, reflected in its status as the leader in its continent and one of the very finest restaurants in the world.
Images: Junji Hata