Dual-nationality gastronomy offering the best of China and Japan


On the Pass

Tomoya Kawada

China meets Japan: Chef Tomoya Kawada cooks Chinese cuisine infused with a Japanese sensibility, rooted in the two countries’ shared history and adoration of tea drinking. His elegant restaurant, located inside a former diplomat’s residence in Tokyo’s upmarket Minami-Azabu district, has just 12 seats, plus two private rooms.

What’s in a name? ‘Sa’ refers to tea and is found in the word for tea ceremony, sado. The origins of tea ceremony are in deep meditation, or ‘zen’. Together they form the portmanteau ‘sazen’. This phrase teaches that while the process may be different, what is imagined by tea and zen is one and the same.

Where two cuisines collide: Kawada fell in love with Chinese food at the age of five. Determined since then to become a chef, he worked at a Chinese restaurant in Tokyo for 10 years. In 2011, he worked at the noted Japanese restaurant Nihonryori RyuGin, where he learned the techniques and spirit of Japanese kaiseki from iconic chef Seiji Yamamoto. Two years later, he moved to the island of Taiwan to help launch RyuGin’s Taipei branch, Shoun RyuGin. After returning to Japan, he opened Sazenka in February 2017.

What’s on offer? The seasonal tasting menu features carefully selected Japanese ingredients used to honour the traditions of Chinese cuisine. The botan ebi shrimp with Shaoxing rice wine and the clarified pheasant soup with wontons are ideal appetisers followed by the spiciness of the charcoaled grilled kinme (golden eye snapper) with leak and ginger, or the tangy fried pork with Sichuan accents. To finish on a sweet note, the apple with osmanthus jelly is great closer.

Tea time: The food is paired with an eclectic selection of drinks, either alcoholic (including wine, sake and Shaoxing wine) or the wide selection of the finest Chinese, Taiwanese and Japanese teas.


4 Chome-7-5 Minamiazabu, Minato City, Tokyo 106-0047, Japan

+81 3-5449-6778 Visit Sazenka's Website Visit Sazenka on Instagram