Zaiyu Hasegawa’s original and heartfelt take on kaiseki cuisine


On the Pass

Zaiyu Hasegawa

Pastry Chef

Rei Mochizuki

What makes it special? Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa’s iconic restaurant is unlike any other in Japan. Creative, contemporary, accessible and welcoming whatever the season: these are the qualities that have propelled Den to the highest levels of the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, including to No.1 in 2022.

Humble beginnings: Hasegawa began his career as a chef at age 18, working in the kitchen of Uotoku, the ryotei (exclusive traditional Japanese restaurant) where his mother worked as a geisha. When he was 29, he opened Den in Tokyo’s Jimbocho district gaining a fervent following and two Michelin stars, before moving to the current location in Jingumae in late 2016.

Japan on the plate: Drawing on his training in kaiseki (Japan’s elegant multi-course cuisine), Hasegawa’s menus incorporate a diverse range of influences, from Japanese home cooking to fast food favourites, plus accents gleaned from his numerous overseas travels and collaborations. Be prepared for unexpected idiosyncrasies.

Pick a signature dish: Highlights include foie gras monaka wafers as an appetizer; the now-classic "DFC" chicken, stuffed with an ever-changing selection of flavours; Hasegawa’s 20-plus-ingredient Den garden salad, complete with emoji carrots; and, always the highlight, donabe gohan (claypot-cooked rice) topped with wagyu beef, seasonal seafood or seasonal wild plants and mushrooms.

Hospitality and teamwork: Underpinning everything at Den is the seamless front-of-house service led by Hasegawa’s wife, Emi, which was recognized in 2017 with the inaugural Art of Hospitality award at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Don’t be surprised as you leave if the Hasegawas’ faithful canine mascot, Puchi Jr., appears to bid you sayonara.