Despite two years of troubled eating restrictions due to the pandemic, the dining scene is booming with the arrival of a new wave of aspiring young chefs who are bringing a fresh perspective and international flair to the Japanese capital. British-born Daniel Calvert started the trend with Sezanne, located in an art-filled space inside the Four Seasons Marunouchi. In its first year, the venue has already garnered a string of accolades—including a Michelin star and 17th slot on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list—for impeccable signatures like heirloom tomato tart with burrata cream and French Rive Calvert on Shanghainese drunken chicken.
At Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura, chef Antonio Iacovello interprets Japanese ingredients through the lens of Italian cuisine (think eggplant Parmigiana-Meet-spaghetti aglio e olio, in a smoked dashi of fermented eggplant). Iacoviello’s dazzling presentations match the interior, complete with antique mirrors and tables with Gucci glasses and plates. A few blocks away in Ginza Yuzan, Japanese-American chef Keiichiro Kurobe (of Hinoki in Los Angeles and The Bird fame) serves up a taste of California-style multiculturalism with dishes like pot-cooked aroz con pollo and egg-filled arancini with umami sauce. Led by Santiago Fernandez, the all-new Maz Tokyo from Virgilio Martinez explores Peru’s diverse terrain and food culture in innovative combinations such as Iwana River fish topped with watermelon granita and coconut-grass sauce, and desserts that use every part of the cocoa fruit — from the fermented and roasted peel to the sweet, tart jelly. Made of pulp inside the capsule.
Other notable additions include the 3110NZ from LDH Kitchen, a collaboration between the Art & Sushi Gallery, Nanzuka Underground Gallery and the popular Sushi Saito, which is housed in a futuristic space with intricate glowing lighting cut into white walls. At Nine by La Cime, chefs Yusuke Takada (of Osaka’s two-Michelin-star restaurant La Cime) and Toru Tokushima create provocative tasting menus centered around seafood, while Ippei Hanten creates a hidden six-seater counter dedicated to fine Cantonese dining. After 9:00 pm, the restaurant transforms into the casual Ye Hong Kong, serving an epic family-style feast in two private rooms.
Looking to indulge your sweet tooth? Head to Azuki to Kouri, an icy chic spot that specializes in fresh fruit kakigori, or pick up one of Jerome Quilbeuf’s signature Basque burnt scones at the chef’s eponymous shop at the new Exit Melsa in Ginza. This summer, Quilbeuf will also introduce a second branch of its popular Spanish restaurant Gracia, in a larger area with seating on the Ichigaya balcony.
Former Barista World Champion Hide Izaki creates the “ultimate coffee break” with rare specials, bespoke Japanese porcelain, and seasonal desserts prepared by Cokuun’s Narisawa Restaurant, which launches in early fall. The experience combines coffee culture with elements of a traditional tea ceremony and takes place inside a capsule-like tea room, shaped like an iron pot, with seating for four guests.
The past two years have seen an expansion of the luxury hotel space in Kyoto, starting with the grid-covered Ace Hotel in Kengo Kuma and the elegant Mitsui Hotel, a 161-room property built on the grounds of a centuries-old former Mitsui family residence opposite Nijo Castle. . The recently opened Shinmonzen Hotel in the historic district of Gion blends the comforts of a western boutique hotel with the warm hospitality and aesthetics of a traditional Japanese ryokan. Designed by Tadao Ando with interiors by Remi Tessier, this luxurious nine-suite hotel features spacious rooms fitted with hinoki wood bathtubs and houses a stunning collection of contemporary art. A restaurant designed by Jean-Georges Vongerichten will open in late autumn; Meanwhile, staying guests can enjoy delightful dinners that make excellent use of organic produce from the mountains north of Kyoto, served in the pavilion, and Provençal afternoon tea in the lounge overlooking the Shirakawa River.