No.34

Hajime

Osaka, Japan

On the pass:

Hajime Yoneda

Pastry chef:

Yuko Uchida

Style of food:

Artistic cuisine

Standout dish:

Chikyu (Planet Earth)

Contact:

1-9-11-1F, Edobori, Nishi-ku, Osaka City, Osaka 550 0002

+81 6 6447 6688
http://www.hajime-artistes.com/

Philosopher chef explores meaning of life through food

Why go: There's a philosophical streak to the food served in this highly acclaimed French restaurant. Chef Hajime Yoneda's intricate, beautifully presented dishes explore heavyweight themes ranging from the natural world and ecology to the passing of time and destruction.

Standout dishes: The signature 'chikyu' (planet earth) is made of up to 110 different vegetables, grains and herbs, artfully arranged around a shellfish foam to represent the land and sea. Other highlights include nodoguro fish with coriander, eggplant, sea lettuce and pea sprout vine, and foie gras with hazel, pumpkin and black pepper.

Chef's background: A former design engineer for an electronics firm, Yoneda followed his true calling by putting himself through cookery school and moving to France to work at Bernard Robin in the Loire. He returned to Japan to spend three years at Michel Bras' restaurant Toya in Hokkaido, before opening Hajime in 2008.

What else? The wine list has a strong French accent with blockbusters from Bordeaux and Burgundy, but there is also an excellent selection of Japanese red and white wines, plus sake.

Outside interests: Yoneda is a keen painter, a hobby he first developed in France, where he even held exhibitions at local galleries.

Images: Masashi Kuma

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