In recent decades, Japanese food, a millenary tradition that goes far beyond sushi, has been one of the main protagonists of the international gourmet scene. Highlighting this special cuisine, are two restaurants in Tokyo that have positioned themselves as the best overall others. These restaurants are Narisawa and Den: small, intimate and prestigious restaurants of world renowned culinary dishes and traditions.
Yoshihiro Narisawa is a creative and innovative chef who was part of stellar kitchens directed by Paul Bocuse and Joel Robuchon, among others. He founded his first restaurant in 1996 in the Prefecture of Kanagawa to finally move in 2003 to the capital and find the restaurant that would carry his name.
With a sober and elegant decoration set amidst an international style, its hall hosts only eight tables of up to 4 people, with space for 12 people to work in the kitchen, including chefs and specialized chefs. The dedication and attention to detail of all the staff are truly amazing.
The culinary profile of the Narisawa kitchen is an interesting modern interpretation of the Satoyama style. This style is distinguished by being a Japanese tradition that proposes to engage with the environment and nature, particularly with the forests that surround the city.
Their fixed menus offer the best fresh products of the area, elaborated from complex western techniques. For example, its classic dish “Essence of the forest” includes an interesting variety of vegetables, each cooked differently to highlight their attributes. Among its ingredients, you can find green tea powder, charred bamboo, bean yogurt, sliced fried vegetables and charred sweet onions.
Each step is a unique and unrepeatable experience, paired with an interesting selection of local wines. Something quite unusual in Japanese restaurants.
Narisawa is a restaurant with two Michelin stars that offers a different and personal experience, based on the hospitality characteristic of Japanese culture. A necessary and unmissable stop on each visit to Tokyo.
Awarded with two Michelin stars, this small restaurant is run by the popular Zaiyu Hasegawa, a renowned chef who acquired fame from exquisite and traditional dishes with modern and somewhat playful presentations.
His fried Kentucky chicken, for example, is presented in a box that seems to belong to the menu of the KFC fast-food chain. But in reality, it is a delicious chicken dish stuffed with delicately selected mushrooms. Shimeji, maitake and eringi mushrooms form a soft and balanced filling. Typical preparation of the kaiseki style that identifies Den’s kitchen.
The restaurant’s menu offers creative and innovative dishes that were inspired by the chef’s life. The salad Den has more than 20 vegetables cooked separately and is accompanied by dressings and surprising and original accompaniments. Inside, are small discs of carved vegetables with the silhouette of a smiling face. All those details give a fun touch to a really delicious menu.
The Den room hosts up to 25 diners, 8 of them sitting in the main bar with a direct view of the kitchen. Each dish is presented with a detailed presentation by the staff and the chef welcomes and dismisses each of the guests.
Going to Den means experiencing a very welcoming and entertaining experience that also involves a ritual of hospitality and world-class cuisine.
On your next trip to the Japanese islands, take the time to get to know the best of the city’s gourmet cuisine by getting to know Narisawa and Den. ■