Sake, shoyu, miso, and more - some say fermentation is the foundation of Japanese gastronomy. With interest growing globally, eyes turn to the superb Tokyo restaurants leading the way in fermented food culture.
At ESqUISSE on Ginza's Namiki-dori avenue, executive chef Lionel Beccat creates his original, innovative, and deceptively simple cuisine, with a consummate foundation in the French tradition yet transformed by his years experiencing Japan with the outlook of an auteur. Beccat's recent fascination with fermentation further elevates his art: from meats masterfully marinaded in soy-sauce lees to his innovative application of the nukazuke pickling jar to age and ferment his own ingredients.
Opened in 2012, ESqUISSE has been rated two stars in the Michelin Guide ever since, reflecting an inimitable experience born not from an active pursuit of cultural fusion, but by uncontrived adaptation of Japanese methods and ingredients. In pursuit of flavors otherwise impossible.
Dinner at Ginza Kuki is an exquisite introduction to fermentation gastronomy in Japanese cuisine. This elegantly restaurant was established in 2018 by Hikari Miso, a leading authentic miso-maker passing on an 80-year legacy of fermentation techniques through the generations.
The monthly set menu is based on concepts of fermentation and aging, building on kaiseki's devotion to fresh, seasonal produce to deliver something both original and timelessly traditional. Furthermore, they offer a vegan and vegetarian menu as well - a true rarity that showcases their expertise in umami to deliver a rich culinary experience with or without meat.
Superior dashi stock is the humble starting point for Japanese haute cuisine, and to Chef Ryosuke Ito, the very foundation of his restaurant, Ensui. With his motto "make the old new again," Ito uses flakes of superior katsuobushi, fish slowly dried and fermented under exacting conditions, as the basis for his ichiban-dashi made on the spot for each new guest at his table.
Morsels based on epicurean dashi are a unifying theme, and the serving stand on the eye-catching cypress counter sits low to showcase the aromatic fresh shavings of fermented katsuo so central to the experience. Ito honed his craft at the world-famous Ryugin for almost 10 years before opening Ensui in 2020, evolving time-honored dishes with a modern touch, and promptly earned his first Michelin star the very next year.