What makes it special? Charismatic chef Zaiyu Hasegawa’s ever-creative take on the elevated cuisine of his homeland is innovative, at times humorous, and always satisfying. But what makes Den so unique among Japanese restaurants – and so popular – is how relaxed and welcoming it feels.
What’s on the plate? While firmly rooted in the framework of kaiseki, Japan’s hyper-seasonal dining tradition, Hasegawa’s menus draw inspiration from all quarters. Expect foie gras in the savoury monaka appetisers, an ant or two in the classic 20-ingredient Den salad, and all kinds of surprises in his now-signature Dentucky Fried Chicken wings.
Service (and sake) with a smile: Returning local regulars and first-time visitors alike are greeted and served with warmth by the front of house team led by Emi Hasegawa, who also keeps diners topped up with eclectic pairings of wine, premium sake, spirits and tea.
Four-legged teamwork: No visit to Den is complete without being introduced to the restaurant’s loyal mascot, Puchi Jr. The second of the Hasegawas’ loyal chihuahuas to bear the Puchi name, this integral member of Team Den often makes appearances at 50 Best awards ceremonies, albeit in virtual form on T-shirts or badges.
Local favourite: Hasegawa opened Den in 2007 and the restaurant has been a firm favourite of the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants voting Academy since it debuted at No.37 in 2016, even shooting to the No.1 spot in 2022 – and it has been a firm fixture on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants too.