Shinobu Namae had sustainability at heart when he opened L’Effervescence in 2010 – his mission at the restaurant was to create a “hermitage” in Japan’s capital, a place where diners could feel like they were “deep in the forest or in the big ocean as they appreciate the blessings of nature.”
Eight years later, it is fitting that L’Effervescence is the winner of the inaugural Sustainable Restaurant Award in Asia. Namae’s appreciation of nature and respect for the environment shine not only in the chef’s dishes, but also in the restaurant’s sourcing practices and food waste measures.
No.20 in this year’s ranking, L’Effervescence poetically pays homage to Japanese produce in its menu, with dishes inspired by the natural environment and the local producers including “Our dearest artisanal farmers” – a dish of the best seasonal vegetables – and “Where the ocean meets the land: Japanese landscape” – wood-fired duck with taro and cod milt soup, wilted winter spinach and spruce oil.
Namae trained at Michel Bras Toya Japon in Hokkaido and at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in Bray, taking with him the chefs’ obsession with high-quality produce and the fusion of French cuisine with world influences. When he opened his restaurant in Tokyo, Namae says that knew he wanted to make Japan the base of all of his produce, but also be inspired by his travels.
All ingredients on L’Effervescence’s menu are organic and sourced from Japan and the chef uses unconventional cuts from heritage breed animals and locally caught fish, while applying creative twists on French techniques.
As well as learning about the natural environment and how to source the best produce, staff at L’Effervescence are given the opportunity to develop their understanding of sustainability and train in new ways to limit food waste. The creative process involves nose-to-tail and root-to-fruit approaches, ensuring that there is no unnecessary waste. Namae also hold informative sessions on sustainability at local schools.
A meal at L’Effervescence may include cured and grilled barracuda fish with black radish (“Deeper”), zuwai crab in a steamed egg custard (“Heritage”) and candied chestnuts and chrysanthemum leaf ice cream with mandarin and Sierra Nevada chocolate (“Autumn foothills hike”). The experience ends with mignardises, matcha and “World Peace” – no less than you would expect from the winner of the Sustainable Restaurant Award in Asia 2018.
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The Sustainable Restaurant Award is given to the restaurant with the highest environmental and social responsibility rating, as ranked by audit partner the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). All restaurants on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list are invited to enter the award via self-nomination and each is assessed across three main pillars: sourcing, society and environment.
Images: Luuvu Hoang