Luca Fantin

Born in Treviso, Italian chef Luca Fantin has spent the last 10 years in Tokyo running II Ristorante: a restaurant that gives fine Japanese ingredients the Italian treatment. Named the world’s best Italian chef by prestigious Italian culinary guide Identità Golose in 2014, Fantin and his cooking style have been described as “creative, contemporary and deeply embedded in the cycle of Japan’s seasons

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One Of My Favourite Sushi Restaurants

Ootaninosushi  is one of my favourite sushi restaurants. It’s not famous like Saito, but is very, very good. Sushi places can be very similar in many aspects, but what I love at this place is the texture and bite of the rice: it’s not too acidic and there’s not too much sugar. It’s a very nice combination, and very easy to eat. Seasoning is very personal with each chef. With Italian chefs, for example, the amount of salt you put in the pasta really changes the flavour. If sushi is too sweet or acidic, after 10 pieces of sushi, you don’t feel that you want to eat more. But the sushi at Ootaninosushi is very easy to eat and allows eaters to really appreciate the texture of the fish.

A Head-To-Tail Eel Restaurant

Unatetsu is a very old, traditional restaurant in Shinjuku that uses every part of the eel from the meat to its organs. The restaurant serves the eel skewered, similar to yakitori-style and it uses different preparations for different parts of the eel. It’s a very nice experience and I took Massimo Bottura there, actually. It’s quite good and very interesting and you don’t need to make a reservation.

Celebrating Japanese Pork

Ponta Honke is a restaurant specialising in tonkatsu (breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet) made with pork from all over Japan including Okinawa, from the north, and from the centre of Japan.

Handmade Soba Noodles In Temple Town

I’m not really a fan of ramen, but I love soba. For an Italian, it is very difficult to eat the stock with noodles. It’s not our favourite dish. Only soba is okay. Without stock of course. I like Daikokuya for two reasons. First, it makes its own soba that is of great quality, as is the dashi. And secondly, the location in a very traditional part of Tokyo. I always order the cold soba with the tempura on the side.

Using Every Part Of The Animal

Yakinikiu Yuji is famous for its wagyu offal beef cuts that you barbecue at your table. It’s a great restaurant to go with a few friends. It’s also worth mentioning that you don’t need a reservation. Toriei is very special because it specialises in chicken hotpot – normally hot pot is made using pork or beef. The restaurant uses all the parts of the chicken that you cook yourself at the table in delicious chicken stock. It’s very simple, but they use very good ingredients. The rice is also amazing. It’s the perfect spot in the colder months.

A Relaxed Yakitori Restaurant (That’s Also Easy To Book)

Toriyoshi – like many yakitori (grilled skewers) restaurants – isn’t a gourmet experience, but it’s easy food and it’s great to go there on a Sunday night or whenever you want a bite. It has a nice atmosphere and it’s easy to make a reservation unlike some yakitori restaurants that are booked for the next 100 years. My favourite skewers are ginkgo nut and chicken wing. With beer, it’s the perfect combination.

Getting My Italian Fix

If I want to eat Italian, I cook at home. On Sunday when I’m at home with the family, I always cook. I like to cook at home for my wife. But sometimes, if we want pizza, we will go to PST (Pizza Studio Tamaki). It’s very good pizza.

The Evolution of Yoshiro Narisawa

Before Narisawa was more oriented towards French-Japanese cuisine. Now, chef Yoshiro Narisawa is moving more and more towards Japanese cuisine and began changing the concept around five years. He defines his style as Satoyama cuisine: it means all the products come from Japan. Even the entire wine is from Japan. Because he learned to cook in Italy and France, he doesn’t just use Japanese cooking techniques, but his food reflects Japan and all the seasons in Japan. In September 2018, he also opened Bees Bar, a very nice bar attached to his restaurant. 

A Very Special Experience, Now More Accessible

The three-Michelin-starred Nihonryori RyuGin is the home of master chef, Seiji Yamamoto. It is one of the top, top, top experiences you can have. When it was still in Ginza, the restaurant was much smaller and it was difficult to get a booking. Since he moved in 2018 into a larger space, I think you can find a reservation even two weeks before.

The Master of Kaiseki Cuisine

Chef Hiroshi Ishida is the master of kaiseki cuisine and, at 80 years of age, might be the oldest kaiseki chef in Tokyo. You can’t make reservations at Mibu, his tiny restaurant: it’s more of a private members-only club and an absolute chef’s favourite. Chef Hiroshi and Ferran Andria even created a Japanese manga artwork together. It’s exclusive, yes, but I have to mention it because it’s a personal favourite and such an incredible and unique experience. It’s very traditional and specialised, and everything changes with the seasons: the décor, the serving ware, the atmosphere, and, of course, the ingredients and flavours.

Where To Eat Chinese And Thai Food In Tokyo

Chinese cuisine is quite high level in Japan because the ingredients are of such high quality and Japanese chefs are very precise. Like most people, my favourite Cantonese dishes are Peking duck and dumplings. Both are fantastic at Chef’s. I really like going to Sonpon for its Thai green curry. It’s amazing.  

A Seasonal Cocktail Bar

These Bar serves great creative cocktails made with seasonal fruit that are very, very fresh and easy to drink. The atmosphere is really good and the bar changes the menu every season.

Guide last updated October 2019

Our guides are fact-checked and updated every three months. Read more here.

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