Stylish Japanese combinations influenced by Italian cuisine


On the Pass

Ken Sakamoto

Pastry Chef

Takao Nakatsuka

What makes it special? The unexpected pairings. Combining Japanese precision and Italian techniques, chef-patron Ken Sakamoto surprises diners via his tasting menu, available in eight or 10 stages, which may include dishes such as hairtail with tomato, new ginger and coriander, and green asparagus, round barley and big fin reef squid.

Turning back time: The restaurant, which opened in 2014, has strong ties to the city of Kyoto and its heritage. Located in a century-old Japanese house near the Heian Shrine, the dining room is accessed through a red-brick tunnel built by Sakamoto and his team. With seasonal and local produce starring across the menu, Cenci embraces Japanese culinary culture and precision, with a touch of Italian flare.

What’s on the plate? Drawing inspiration from the seasons and the available produce, chef Sakamoto rotates the menu regularly, ensuring that no guest has the same experience twice. Diners are kept on their toes and may be presented with anything from Kamo aubergine with corn and basil to an American cherry dessert with Amazonian cacao and brown sugar.

About the chef: Born in the Kyoto Prefecture, Sakamoto travelled extensively around Europe before beginning his career in gastronomy. Awed by the depth of Italian cuisine, he trained under Yasuhiro Sasajima at Il Ghiottone in Kyoto, rising to the position of head chef. He opened Cenci in 2014, and has since pioneered the restaurant’s philosophy of helping products achieve their full potential.