Innovative Japanese cuisine served with humour and humility
Who, what and why: Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa pushes the potential of Japanese dining well beyond the boundaries of Kyoto’s centuries-old traditions. While his roots are embedded in classical kaiseki cuisine, he deftly incorporates influences from around the world, presenting his dishes with playfulness and humour.
A new chapter: After close to a decade at his iconic Jimbocho premises, in late 2016 Hasegawa moved Den across Tokyo to the upmarket Jingumae district. The change of address also marked a shift in focus, away from the old kappo-style counter seating to a more open-plan layout, intended to encourage greater dialogue with the open kitchen and communication between customers.
On the plate: Den’s omakase tasting menu is likely to open with the signature appetiser, a monaka pastry stuffed with foie gras, and then segues through eight courses of seafood, meat and even turtle dishes. Current highlights include a superlative 20-ingredient salad, mostly sourced from the garden of the chef’s sister, and his now-trademark reinterpretation of fast-food chicken wings. Ever creative, Hasegawa always keeps some surprises up his sleeve.
Omotenashi: The front-of-house team, led by Hasegawa’s wife Emi, embraces the traditional Japanese philosophy of welcoming every diner with warmth and making them feel part of the Den family. It is this approach that helped the restaurant earn The Ferrari Trento Art of Hospitality Award for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017.