maître d’ - Les Créations de Narisawa, Tokyo
Written by Yukari Sakamoto
Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa’s inspiration is reflected in an ingredient-driven menu with gifts from the diversity of Japan such as the sea, forest, mountain, and river.
It is said that the Japanese eat with their eyes. Chef Narisawa’s dramatic presentations may include twigs, autumn leaves, or seashells, evoking the environment. The austere dining room has a direct view into the spotless kitchen through a large window.
Expertly fried chiayu (baby sweetfish) swim amongst flower petals that float on the river. A radish, complete with its greens, is brushed with deep-fried mustard seeds resembling dirt. What appears to be a hard piece of coal disguises a tender piece of Hida wagyu. Golden consommé is dispensed from glass flasks as if from a chemistry set. Seasonal fruits reveal themselves in desserts such as kumquats and chocolate. The mignardises and signature gradation of petite macaroons will have you swooning.
Narisawa-san’s nouvelle cuisine reflects his classic French training with Bocuse and Robuchon, but is undoubtedly cuisine à la Narisawa grounded on his inspiration from nature.
What makes Chef Narisawa’s culinary creations so engaging is his insistence on using Japanese ingredients at the peak of their seasonality. Shun describes this period, which may be as short as a few days. His close connections to carefully chosen purveyors ensures that he always has the best products available.
Seafood in season in February includes oni kasago (hairy stingfish), akamutsu (blackthroat seaperch), ise ebi (lobster), and botan ebi (spot prawn). Other seasonal produce encompasses Brussels sprouts, strawberries, fukinotÿ (butterbur sprouts), shimonita negi (leeks), yamaimo (mountain potatoes), kinkan (kumquats), and root vegetables such as daikon and sweet potatoes. Narisawa deftly incorporates Japanese ingredients such as miso, buckwheat, and wasabi into his cuisine, and is a master at showcasing shun.