Chef Bruno Menard at Imperial Hotel

Aiste Miseviciute of Luxeat is a friend who put chef Bruno Menard on my radar. My first time to try chef’s cuisine was at a wine dinner at the Imperial Hotel with Don Melchor wines. I was taken in with not only the cuisine, but chef’s fine touches on the dishes to pair them with the lovely Don Melchor wines.

Chef Bruno is in Tokyo this week for a pop-up at the Imperial Hotel’s Les Saisons. He is collaborating with chef Thierry Voisin of Les Saisons. It was a treat to try his dishes once more.

What do I love of his cuisine? The small touches of Japanese ingredients, the rich flavors that are light and not too heavy.

Some of the highlights include a crab dish that includes yuzu kosho, a salty and spicy paste made with yuzu rind, but just the right amount of it so as not to outshine to crab. The presentation is fun, with the 3 Michelin stars on the package.

Truffles are in season at the moment and chef came to the table to shave the white truffles over his onion soup with chestnuts. Light on top, creamy at the bottom, and the rich aromatics and texture of the white truffles pulling it all together.

The yin yang dish above is scallop sashimi and beet sashimi. The dots were of Japanese shiso (perilla leaf) and umeboshi (pickled apricots) with raspberries, there was some kabosu (citrus) with the scallops.

Hokkaido scallop is sauteed in butter and set upon a spinach sauce with gnocchi and white truffles.

The lemon tart dessert is topped with a gin fizz sorbet, with mango powder and passionfruit crisps. The soft sable dough is topped with a sugar tuile.

The baba au rhum was finished table side by chef, and topped with a 2001 Diplimatico Single Vintage Rum aged in sherry casks. The cake is finished with a passionfruit apricot glaze with a fresh acidity. The syrup is steeped with star anise, lemon, lives, and cloves. White chocolate ice cream is nestled in the cake. The Diplimatico rum was crazy. Smooth, hints of coffee and vanilla, and no harsh alcohol flavors that can overtake this dish. Chef was proud to share that this recipe came from his father.

I had the pleasure of speaking with chef and loved hearing him talk about his regular customers from his L’Osier days coming back with their family to see him and eat his cuisine once more. He said that this is what the business of being a chef is all about. You could see he loved talking to the guests, but moreover, that the guests were so happy to be talking with him.

He did talk about the quality of ingredients in Japan and how good they are. That some are so great they should be served raw, while others can be transformed.

Chef Bruno is based in Singapore. I am hoping that someday he can open up a restaurant in Tokyo.

Culinary Journeys with Chef Namae Shinobu

Shinobu Namae picnics amongst rice fields at Terada Honke_2

Chiba Terada Honke

I am very excited to share air time with Chef Namae Shinobu in this month’s Discover Japan special on CNN. His show is airing today at 5:30 p.m. Japan Standard Time. Be sure to tune in to travel with him as he goes to Kyoto and to Chiba as he explores the world of tea and saké. Learn about omotenashi, an essential part of the food culture in Japan.

Following is an interview with chef Namae Shinobu with CNN’s Culinary Journeys. Read on for where chef Namae would go in the world for his personal culinary journey. I was surprised to hear his destination.

  1. What inspired you to cook? And what compose your culinary philosophy?

Cooking is all about making something by hand to make someone happy. My philosophy is to be sincere to everything around you, love who you are and what you do.

  1. You hold a diploma in Politics from one of the top universities in Japan, Keio University, but it’s not a career you pursued. Becoming a chef must have been quiet an interesting journey for you. Can you tell us about it?

A lot of people been asking me this question but it was quite natural for me to get into the world of cuisine. When I was studying, I needed to earn money to support myself. So I started working part-time at an Italian restaurant at night and went to school in the morning. I needed to survive and this job fed me a delicious and warm meal at the end of the day. That was my starting point and it was really simple.

I love people and I am interested in Social Science, and I wanted to understand people’s difference in different aspects including culture, generations, gender, religions etc. Learning politics was all about how to cope with these differences. And now finding the beauty of different food cultures is another way to fulfill my interest.  

  1. Why have you decided to do French cuisine instead of Japanese cuisine?

My mentor Michel Bras is a French chef. And I was interested in learning something different so I started from European cuisine.

  1. You’ve had experience in the kitchens at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck and Michel Bras’ three-Michelin-starred restaurants – what did you learn from your time there?

Both chefs are unique and have extreme curiosities about nature and science. They are both self-taught chefs, creating dishes from nature. 

  1. Tell us about your ‘Culinary Journey’ on CNN. What is the highlight of this journey?

Through this journey, I would like to show the very unique Japanese hospitality made by Japan’s historical background, beautiful landscape and craftsmanship. I travelled to Kyoto to meet two Kaiseki chefs and a tea master. And I completed the journey at a sake brewery in Chiba with more than 300 years history.

I thought I already knew many beautiful aspects of Japanese food culture and I realized again it’s a never an ending journey to discover all of them.

Highlights are everywhere from this journey, but I would say each person who I introduce to audience in this journey not only care about details of their craft but also care about people they encounter and serve. The warm-hearted hospitality is the most unique thing here in Japan.

  1. In CNN ‘Culinary Journeys’, you went to Kyoto to discover the best quality Japanese green tea. And a tea ceremony is integral in the dining experience at your restaurant L’Effervescence. Tell us the importance of tea in Japanese dining culture.

The traditional Japanese fine dining, Kaiseki, is originally the meal served in the context of tea ceremony. The tea ceremony ceremony gives you a precious moment of encountering with other guests. A good cup of tea makes people united together and it has a power of magic.

Tea ceremony is an important dining experience at my restaurant because it’s the symbol of unity and peace as well as care of each other.

  1. Will we still find hints of Japan flavors in L’Effervescence menu?

Yes very much. I put some Japanese technic behind European composition, but I try not to make it too prominent in one side of the culture on my dishes. But almost all ingredients are sourced from all over Japan now. 

  1. How would you describe Tokyo’s culinary scene?

A lot of new restaurants opened by younger generations are rising.  

  1. If we gave you a blank cheque, where would your dream culinary journey take you and what would you do there?

Ethiopia. The starting point of “The great journey of human being”. I believe I can find something very important in this country of many tribes. And I am interested in “Gursha” – grabbing a morsel of food and place into the mouth of someone else at the table. Then the person you have just honoured with a “Gursha” returns the favour. It’s about making the friendship and love stronger.
And great coffee too.

  1. What does Michelin recognition mean to you?

It’s good to be recognized but I try to be humble and generous. I don’t mind being called a celebrity chef or so, but I am still who I am. Nothing more or less after recognized by Michelin.  

  1. What do you usually like to cook when you are at home?

Something simple like vegetables with some seafood. And I enjoy having sake and wines.

Part one – the art of hospitality:

Part two – Kyoto’s culinary traditions:

Part three – a meal inspired by memories:


Book Review – 32 Yolks

32 Yolks

32 Yolks

Eric Ripert is the chef of one of the world’s greatest seafood restaurant, Le Bernadin, in New York City. While in culinary school a girlfriend and I dined here and I still remember the room, the exquisite service, and the outstanding seafood.

32 Yolks is chef Ripert’s autobiography that is written with Veronica Chambers. I am amazed at Chambers’ ability to put the chef’s story into words. The imagery of his mother putting together a beautiful dinner every night is inspirational. Sections of the book are hard to read as Ripert grows up and is not treated nicely by his mother’s second husband.

Other family members and friends nurture and nourish Ripert. It is exciting to see how culinary school and working at some of Paris’ top restaurants have shaped the chef that we now know.

In particular, the chapters written on chef Ripert’s time in Joel Robuchon’s kitchen are wild. I had a hard time putting the book down.

The story comes to an end with chef Ripert at Charles de Gaulle boarding a plane for Washington D.C. to work with none other than Jean-Louis Palladin. I hope that there is another book in the works, as the story is not finished. It does leave us hanging as Ripert picks up a book at the airport, a book that seems to have influenced his life. I look forward to seeing reading in the future how Ripert’s life in America evolves from working with chef Palladin to where we see him now, in New York City.

Chef Ripert and Veronica, bravo on this first book. Looking forward to the next. Until then, I have just picked up Yes, Chef: A Memoir, Chambers’ book with chef Marcus Samuelsson.

32 Yolks

From my Mother’s Table to Working the Line

Eric Ripert with Veronica Chambers


Random House Books; 247 pp.; $28.00



SFO Peruvian Cooking Classes with Chef Nico Vera

We recently had the pleasure of hosting chef Nico in our Food Sake Tokyo cooking classes. After he returned to San Francisco, a Peruvian friend of ours, Janice Espa, took a cooking class with him. We are pleased to share this with you.

The following post is by guest blogger Janice Espa of San Francisco.

Nico cebiche

Chef Nico Vera

Chef Nico Vera, founder of Pisco Trail, is a culinary ambassador of Peru based in San Francisco.

Nico shares his family’s stories and recreates the dishes he learned by watching his mother cook. He also develops Pisco-based cocktails to match, and gets inspiration from other cuisines to create his own version with Peruvian ingredients.

By fate, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Nico, and see his work first hand. The story is brief and meant to be. While searching the internet for Pisco cocktail recipes in English, beyond the ubiquitous pisco sour, I came across Pisco Trail and struck gold. That same week, I received an email from Nico regarding one of my posts on Food Sake Tokyo. His search for kaiseki led him to me, Yukari, and Shinji Sakamoto. Since then, Chef Vera has toured Tsukiji market with Food Sake Tokyo, and is one of the lucky first to do a cooking class with Shinji Sakamoto.

Now, Nico Vera has created his own take of Peruvian kaiseki (kaiseki criollo). This newly acquired knowledge, together with years of cooking, teaching, and meticulous recipe testing, are what Nico shares in his San Francisco cooking classes.

Nico teaching

Chef Nico demonstrating

At 18 Reasons, a community cooking school in the Mission district, Nico keeps things simple and approachable. Instead of tackling too many things at once, he chooses one or two dishes and shows students how to make a few iterations of each. In the past, he’s taught arroz con mariscos, a rice and seafood dish that could be considered a Peruvian paella, showcased street food snacks, and has held dinners ranging from criollo (creole) to chifa (Chinese-Peruvian) cuisine.

For those new to cooking, or new to making Peruvian food at home, the experience based on Nico Vera’s instruction is not one bit intimidating. The chef makes a point to stop by all cooking stations (seven in total, for a maximum of fourteen students) as he answers questions and makes remarks.

During his ceviche masterclass, we were introduced to tiradito Nikkei and ceviche clasico. We also made an additional helping of leche de tigre (which translates to tiger’s milk), the juices from the lime mix sitting with the fish. Extra leche de tigre can be prepared and added to a dish, or be served in a glass on its own. It’s said to have livening effects. Personally, I don’t think it’s a hangover cure, it’s just delicious. I use a spoon to soak cancha, crispy corn kernels, and devour.

plating our bowls


Ceviche was a dish the Inca’s mastered, no doubt. As Nico detailed, the original dish involved fish cured with tumbo fruit and naranja agria (sour orange). Later, with the arrival of the Spaniards, onions and limes were introduced. I can’t stress enough how important it is to get the right, sour, limes to make optimal ceviche at home.

Tiradito emerged several hundred years later with the arrival of the Japanese. If ceviche is already a simple dish, tiradito keeps things even crisper: fish sliced thinly rather than cubed, and onions omitted. In the Nikkei version (Japanese-Peruvian) ginger, sesame seeds, and sometimes sweet sauces are added.

Nico Vera reminded us of Nobu. He taught us a simple, yet stunning tiradito Nikkei.

our tiradito


Today, there are hundreds of creative ways to serve both dishes. My absolute favorite is tiradito in aji amarillo. It combines the juices of a traditional ceviche, the stellar Peruvian chili ‘aji amarillo’ and the simplicity of the sashimi-style cut.

The most valuable tips we received while learning to make ceviche were on the importance of the lime and the chili, and how to find local substitutes. For example, using habanero and jalapeno peppers in California instead of the traditional rocoto and aji limo of Peru, yet making sure to always use limes, and not to confuse that with lemons.

Nico is placid and soft spoken, he evokes a sense of romanticism when he shares the history of the dishes he presents, and the traditions behind the way Peruvians enjoy certain foods. Because of his background as a mathematician, Nico is methodical and structured. This is clear during his class. He goes step by step, does a brief demo of the dishes, while students read through the recipes. His recipes have been perfected and kept simple.

As a Peruvian, and a home cook, I’ve found recreating Nico’s recipes a breeze. I also appreciate that they’re designed in a way that doesn’t involve cooking quantities to feed the entire neighborhood.

Shared table end of class

Chef Nico Vera

For recipes of traditional ceviche, tiradito Nikkei, and more, check out Pisco Trail.

If you’re in the Bay Area or a planning a visit, keep an eye out for Pisco Trail’s calendar at 18 reasons. Chef Nico might be holding an event then, and it will be worth your time.

Pisco Trail

Peruvian Cuisine and Pisco Mixology


18 Reasons

3674 18th Street

San Francisco, CA 94110


Janice Espa photo

Janice Espa

Janice Espa is a Spanish-Peruvian food enthusiast; an avid traveller and inquisitive taster who explores culture through cuisine.  Janice lives in San Francisco where she writes and styles food. Her days are spent visiting grower’s markets, checking out restaurants, and shopping at specialty stores to discover goods from every corner of the world.

Feel free to email suggestions and travel tips, or to contact Janice for her own recommendations, whether you’re visiting Peru, trekking South America or doing a road trip along the east coast of Australia.


Aoyama Cicada

At Cicada in Aoyama, near Omotesando, I always order the mezze plate. I love the variety of small bites, often with lots of vegetables. If you have allergies, or prefer for an all vegetable mezze, the kitchen is great to substitute something.

I sometimes come by myself and sit at the bar.  In New York City I found it very easy to start up conversations with complete strangers, but that is much harder to do here in Japan. However, I’ve met some interesting people here, including a designer. In our conversation we realized that we both worked on the same food project, at different stages. Cicada is that type of restaurant that draws in an international crowd, but also internationally-minded locals. There is always a buzz in the restaurant and the staff speak English.

The draft beer is from T.Y. Harbor, their sister shop. The wine list is reasonably priced and there is a nice selection of wines-by-the-glass that match the Mediterranean-inspired cuisine.

There is outdoor seating, but that seems to book up quickly, so plan ahead if you want to dine al fresco.

Aoyama Cicada4

Aoyama Cicada Mezze


Minato-ku, Minami-Aoyama 5-7-28 港区南青山5-7-28

Shibuya Kotaro 高太郎

K1Kotaro is named after the owner and chef who prepares all of the food in an open kitchen behind a large wooden counter. I was introduced to Kotaro by a food writer who introduces me to the best spots around the city.


Selection of saké cups on the counter. Each saké is served with a different cup. It’s always interesting to try saké from different cups, and curious to see which ones the staff picks for each person as they are not always the same.

Kotaro menu

Kotaro menu – photo by my sommelier friend, Carrie. Arigato! Kotaro writes the menu by hand. Love this personal touch.


The concept behind the saké list is very simple. Kotaro has selected eight breweries that he is fond of and only serves from these eight. When I first heard this I thought it was limiting. However, the brilliance behind this is that as he has strong connections with these breweries he is able to get limited release saké for his restaurant. Many of what we had this evening will be hard to find elsewhere in Tokyo. He also likes the styles of these breweries and his cuisine works well with these.


The first course at Koutaro is always a bean dish. Again, very simple concept, but when executed correctly is very rewarding. I also loves the tableware he uses, like this intricate blue and white dish. There is katsuobushi (dried and shaved skipjack tuna) garnishing the beans, greens, and mushrooms.

Most Japanese will start the night off with a beer and then move onto saké. At izakaya with a good saké list, I like to start off with a sparkling saké, which Kotaro usually has on hand.


Otsukuri, or sashimi course.

The izakaya has a long counter facing the open kitchen, or if you come with friends you can get a table. The staff speak English and can explain the dishes. The menu is only in Japanese, so I recommend telling the staff, “omakase” (oh-mah-kah-say) and letting Kotaro serve you some of their signature dishes. Tell them if there is anything you like, and more importantly, you don’t like.


Basashi (horse meat sashimi) 馬刺し from Canada of all places. Kumamoto prefecture in Kyushu (southern Japan) is famous for basashi and I have become a big fan of it. It’s very meaty and like eating steak tartare.


Oyster on the half shell. 生牡蠣

The restaurant is popular so you have to book well in advance. You could call from overseas to place your reservation, about a month in advance. I believe the phone lines open up at 1:30 p.m. The staff can take your reservation in English.


Japanese-style potato salad is a common dish found at casual izakaya so I was surprised to find it here at Koutaro. That being said, potato salad is a comfort food that almost everyone loves. And, this one was topped with a smoked, hard-boiled egg. Something I can’t make at home. The dressing is a classic vinaigrette.


Menchi katsu is one of Kotaro’s signature dishes. Ground meat that is breaded and deep-fried. Surprisingly very good with a hearty saké.

Another tip, ask them to give you different temperatures of saké. It’s fun to try hot and cold and to see how the flavor changes as a hot saké cools down.

The last dish is his signature udon noodles that he makes each evening from scratch after the store closes. Kotaro is from Kagawa, on the island of Shikoku. This is the heart of udon country. In Tokyo, most meals end with rice, so the handmade udon noodles is a great spin.

He serves a Japanese-style carbonara with a raw egg, butter, and soy sauce. He also does a cold udon noodle simply garnished with grated daikon and soy sauce.

It’s usually a young, hip crowd here. It’s always busy. They do serve until late at night, so if you can’t get in early, try and book later in the evening.

Kotaro is a short walk from Shibuya station. It’s a bit hard to find, so make sure you have Google Maps, or go by taxi, to be safe. If you go, please tell him Yukari sent you.🙂

Kotaro 高太郎

Shibuya-ku, Sakuragaokacho 28-2 渋谷区桜丘町


Closed Sunday and the first Monday of each month.



Nose-to-Tail at the New York Grill (May 16-23)


The Park Hyatt Tokyo’s New York Grill offers a special menu from May 16-23, 2016. The Nose-to-Tail wagyu event is a five-course event for meat lovers. Chef de Cuisine of the New York Grill and Bar Federico Heinzmann is from Argentina. Federico was saying that Argentines eat about 55 kg of beef a year, compared to only about 5 kg for the Japanese. So, you know you are in good hands with an all-meat tasting course in the hands of an Argentine chef. In Argentina there are 39 million people and 47 million cows.

Federico pointed out that the Japanese are already used to eating every bit and piece of the animal. For example, at a yakitori-ya the menu will include different parts of the chicken, so the concept of a nose-to-tail for the Japanese is not too unusual.

The theme for this year’s event is “Smoked and Cured”, which is woven into each course. Many meats are marinated before cooking and several accompaniments are smoked, adding complexity to the dishes.

I don’t want to reveal too much of the meal, as it is a treat to have the cuisine revealed for you at the dinner. The bits of the cow include the tongue, heart, brisket, flank, and tail. Chef Federico also excels in vegetables, which shines in side dishes like a fermented carrot quinoa risotto. There is a nod to NYC with a pastrami and to Patagonia with an ancient rock salt.

The main course is a flank steak. The Japanese have a saying, “kameba kamu hodo“, the more you chew, the more delicious it is. The Argentines also have a similar philosophy and the two countries meet here in this dish.

The wines for the tasting course is expertly paired with Melville wines from the Santa Rita Hills AVA in Santa Barbara. The cool climate wines are aged in old French barrels, so the grapes can speak for themselves. Refreshing, nice acidity, and very food-friendly chardonnay and pinot noirs for the dinner. As a sommelier, I can confirm that the pairings complement the cuisine.

If you are visiting Tokyo during this time, you are in luck. If you live in this great city, save this meal for a special night out. You are in good hands. Come early and have a cocktail at the New York Bar before your dinner.


New York Grill at the Park Hyatt Tokyo

20,000 JPY (plus tax and service) for five courses, dinner only

May 16-23, 2016

Park Hyatt Tokyo Kozue’s Tohoku Heroes

Hatsumago Sparkling

Hatsumago Sparkling

Kozue at the Park Hyatt Tokyo is a lovely spot for Japanese cuisine. At lunch if the skies are clear you have a gorgeous view of Mount Fuji. At night the city twinkles below you.

Two years ago Kozue did a special Tohoku menu to show their support for three prefectures that were hit hard by the earthquake and tsunami, Fukshima, Miyagi, and Iwate. This year Kozue is repeating the Tohoku Heroes menu, but moving on to the other three prefectures, Aomori, Akita, and Yamagata.

Chef Kenichiro Ooe is from Yamagata, as is my family, so we share this connection with Tohoku. At a recent dinner at Kozue chef Ooe introduced many products and sake from Tohoku.

Koji Nishizaki, the manager of Kozue, gave lovely commentary on the sake with each course. We started the evening off with a sparkling sake from Hatsumago. Hatsumago is a lovely brewery from Sakata in Yamagata. I sold many bottles of Hatsumago when I worked at Takashimaya. It means the first grandchild. A lovely gift for new grandparents. It is only 10% in alcohol, so light on the palate and refreshing. A great start to any evening.


Hiraizumi Marubi 15, Yamahai Junmai, Akita Miyama-nishiki rice. The yeast that is used for this sake is called Akita kobo #15, where the sake gets its name. Although it is a yamahai sake, it is not too heavy as yamahai can be. A very food friendly sake.


Chef Ooe talked about visiting the Tohoku region to meet the farmers, ranchers, and fishermen behind many of the products that they are using. For example, the watarigani crab used in this starter has a local name of gazami. I love these local colloquialism regarding food. It seems to be especially prevalent with seafood. The crab is  steamed in sake, spinach, myoga, and Tosa-zu jelly. Tosa-zu is a classic tart dressing made with rice vinegar, soy sauce, mirin, and dashi. As a jelly it adds a nice texture to the dish. The Hatsumago sparkling paired well with the Tosa-zu jelly, myoga, and crab. Underneath is some kani-miso, or the offal of the crab, a delicacy and an unexpected and nice surprise. The rich kani-miso was rich and paired well with the Hiraizumi Yamahai Junmai.


Warm Aomori hokkigai appetizer with seri, maitake mushrooms, ginko nuts, and sansho was served with Hakkoda Oroshi Daiginjo. Both the hokkigai clam and sake are from Aomori, so a natural partner. I also love this dish with the accent on both edges of the bowl. Dining at Kozue is also a delight on the eyes. Each time I am here I come across new tableware that capture my attention. The Japanese eat with their eyes and taking in the vessels are part of the pleasure of dining at Kozue.


Owan soup bowl. Check out this lovely lacquer bowl with silver and gold circles. My neighbor at the dinner, a Japanese travel writer, said, “it is September”, like I should know why this bowl is being used this time of year. Of course, the harvest moon. So here you also get an appreciation that chef Ooe selected this bowl for this dish due to the time of year.


The owan soup course is a famous local dish called ichigoni of awabi and uni. I’ve tried it in the past and have never liked it, until now. Chef Ooe’s soup was rich in umami and the seafood was pristine. It didn’t hurt that there was matsutake mushrooms and other vegetables in the soup.


Denshu Tokubetsu Junmai from Aomori, lucky if you can get your hands on this sake.🙂

PHT Kozue sashimi

Chef Ooe sashimi presentation always has a big impact. How gorgeous is this large katakuchi bowl filled with crushed ice? This is a serving for three guests. Mimmaya bluefin tuna, makogarei, and amaebi. The fresh nori is always a treat. Chef Ooe commented that it is still early in the season and that the tuna was not as fatty as it will be later in the season as the water cools down.


Amanoto made with kuro koji from Akita. This was my favorite of the night. I wonder if it is because of the black koji – as I am a fan of Okinawa awamori spirit, which is also made with kuro koji. It was served with a Hinai jidori chicken from Akita and included a kiritampo rice ball, a classic dish from Akita. It was nice to see it elevated to this level, as it is a dish often made at home. I think this dish that this was presented in was my favorite of the night.

Sadly I had to leave the dinner, unexpectedly, and missed out on the Yamagata Yonezawa wagyu and the Yamagata soba. Dessert was a rice ice cream. I did love being introduced to new sake, a renewed appreciation for Tohoku ingredients, and seeing new vessels. If you go, I highly recommend asking to have Tohoku sake paired with your meal.

The Tohoku Heroes event runs now through November 30th, both lunch and dinner. There will be a special dinner on the evening of November 29th, where some of the producers will be in attendance. For more details:

Aoyama Cicada

Cicada - Mezze

Cicada – Mezze

At Cicada in Aoyama, near Omotesando, I always order the mezze plate. I love the variety of small bites, often with lots of vegetables. If you have allergies, or prefer for an all vegetable mezze, the kitchen is great to substitute something.

I sometimes come by myself and sit at the bar.  In New York City I found it very easy to start up conversations with complete strangers, but that is much harder to do here in Japan. However, I’ve met some interesting people here, including a designer. In our conversation we realized that we both worked on the same food project, at different stages. Cicada is that type of restaurant that draws in an international crowd, but also internationally-minded locals. There is always a buzz in the restaurant and the staff speak English.

Cicada Mezze2

Cicada – Mezze

The draft beer is from T.Y. Harbor, their sister shop. The wine list is reasonably priced and there is a nice selection of wines-by-the-glass that match the Mediterranean-inspired cuisine.

There is outdoor seating, but that seems to book up quickly, so plan ahead if you want to dine al fresco.


Minato-ku, Minami-Aoyama 5-7-28 港区南青山5-7-28


Shibuya Adenia

Adenia burger

Adenia burger

Adenia in Shibuya is home to one of my favorite burgers in Tokyo. Chef Masafumi Irie was the sous chef at the Park Hyatt Tokyo at the same time that I was the sommelier. The bistro is a short walk from Shibuya station. It is on a quiet residential street. The daily lunch menu, reasonably priced between 1,000 and 1,500 JPY, includes a fish, meat, and steak. The burger is a bargain at 1,000 JPY. The burger is meaty and juicy and comes with the essential side dish, French fries.

Adenia steak

Adenia steak

On a recent visit I had the steak frites. The Australia steak is served with a generous salad that has is always well seasoned and has a nice acidity to it. I mention that only because I am often disappointed at how other bistros in the city dress their salads.

Adenia tartare

Adenia tartare

For a supplemental fee an appetizer or dessert can be added to the menu. The steak tartare brings me back to Paris.

Looking over this blogpost I see that it is all meat, but have no fear as the seafood options are always excellent. My dining partners usually get the fish and it is delicious. But for whatever reason, once I get here I always fall for the meaty options.

It is a small bistro, so call ahead for reservations.

Chef Irie has opened a second bistro, Decary, in Kameido which is in Kōtō-ku. The station is on the Sobu line. The menu is simliar to Adenia. Good to keep in mind when you are on that side of the city.


Shibuya-ku, Hachiyama-cho 1-7