From a small, authentic sushi bar to a hidden ramen restaurant, there are plenty of traditional restaurants to fill your Tokyo food itinerary. Savouring the capital's culinary scene, however, won't be complete without a trip to a fine dining restaurant—the best of which focuses on using prized ingredients throughout Japan. Here, we've highlighted the top fine dining restaurants in Tokyo that serve both local and seasonal Japanese ingredients in new and exciting ways.
The eponymous restaurant of chef Yoshihiro Narisawa champions "Innovative Satoyama" cuisine, a style conceived of by the chef himself. This cuisine employs the philosophy of taking only what resources are necessary, placing sustainability and seasonality at the forefront. Chef Narisawa sources ingredients directly from Japanese producers himself; he is considered one of the first chefs to do this practice in the capital. Before opening Narisawa, he ran a restaurant in Kanagawa, prior to which he spent eight years working for some of the best chefs in Europe, including Paul Bocuse, Fredy Girardet and Joel Robuchon. Complementing his 15-year-old restaurant Narisawa is Bees Bar, an intimate space that follows the same nature-centric ethos.
You might recognise the name of chef Thomas Frebel from when he led research and development at Danish restaurant Noma, which has been widely credited with creating the New Nordic genre of cuisine. After Noma did a pop-up in Tokyo, chef Frebel decided to stay behind to explore and learn more about Japanese produce. Now, he's leading the international culinary team at Inua, which opened in 2018 and presents Scandinavian dishes created with seasonal Japanese ingredients. Even a dish as deceptively simple as the snack pineapple, for instance, brings together pineapple from Ishigaki, konbu from Rishiri Island and citrus from Kochi prefecture.
IL RISTORANTE - LUCA FANTIN
Chef Luca Fantin, who was recognised as the best Italian chef in the world in 2014 by Italian culinary guide Identità Golose, has been whipping up exciting dishes at Michelin-starred Il Ristorante in Bvlgari's Ginza Tower in Tokyo for the past decade. They recently marked the milestone with a special 10-course menu that included his signature his uni spaghetti—a dish that speaks of the chef's imaginative and contemporary Italian cuisine. The fine-dining joint employs the best seasonal local ingredients prepared with refined cooking techniques, resulting in dishes such as Hokkaido venison. Another highlight? The restaurant has an impressive and expertly curated wine and champagne list.
Currently 26th on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list and the recipient of the inaugural Sustainable Restaurant Award last year, the two-Michelin-starred L'Effervescence serves up inventive French fare prepared with fresh Japanese ingredients. Dishes with philosophical titles such as "a country between the mountains and the oceans" and "under the shadows of the trees" showcase chef Shinobu Namae's commitment to nature and the environment as well as to Japan's wealth of produce. Before L'Effervescence, he worked at Michel Bras Toya Japon in Hokkaido and The Fat Duck just outside of London, and his dishes can also be enjoyed aboard Japan Airlines' premium cabins.
Founded by chef-owner Hayashi Ryohei, who formerly worked in the kitchen of two-Michelin-starred kaiseki restaurant Kikunoi, Tenoshima has garnered plenty of attention since it opened in 2018 for its casual yet technically impressive approach to kaiseki. The restaurant offers a nine-course tasting menu that changes every fortnight. Expect plenty of seafood dishes created with produce that he sources directly from local Japanese farmers and fishermen especially from the Seto Inland Sea. The restaurant derives its name from Teshima, a sparsely populated island on the Seto Inland Sea, which the chef visited every summer. Chef Hayashi is determined to grant a fresh, innovative spin to the tradition of kaiseki, as well as revitalise Teshima island through this restaurant.
Want to get a deeper insight into Japan? Join our first Tatler Travel departure to Japan, Autumn On A Plate, on 21 – 24 November 2019. In collaboration with Japan Airlines, this exclusive culinary-centred experience in Tokyo and Karuizawa celebrates the beauty and flavours of fall. Click here to learn more or email firstname.lastname@example.org.