Celebrity Chowdown

Celebrity Chowdown

Sports stars, TV tarento and dead actors are all getting into the restaurant business


Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on March 2010

Shigeki Maruyama

Pro golfer Shigeki Maruyama opened this trattoria in his hometown in Chiba Prefecture in 1999, not long before heading to the US to join the PGA Tour. Over a decade later, La Aerny Marris is still going strong, serving up home-style staples including pizza, pasta and risotto. Maruyama’s personal recommendation is the Pollo alla griglia con verdura stagione, made with Nagoya Cochin chicken.

4-9-7 Minami Yawata, Ichikawa-shi, Chiba. Tel: 047-377-8600. Open Thu-Tue 11:30am-2:30pm (LO) and 5:30-9:30pm (LO), closed Wed. Nearest stn: Motoyawata. www.marris.jp

Masaaki Sakai

Best known as the protagonist in ’70s cult TV series Monkey, actor and comedian Masaaki Sakai is a man on a mission. His Roppongi restaurant, An, aims to “break down the stereotype of yakiniku,” using high-quality black beef from Okinawa that’s cooked up on special smoke-free grill units.

4-4-8 Roppongi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-6890-0065. Open Mon-Fri 11am-3pm and 5pm-3am (LO 2am), Sat 11am-3am (LO 2am), Sun & hols 11am-11:30pm. Nearest stn: Roppongi. www.ystable.co.jp/sumibiyakinikuan

Ai Haruna

Transsexual tarento Ai Haruna calls the shots at okonomiyaki and teppanyaki eatery AG. Diner, which aims to offer up an authentic slice of Osaka life while also providing a space that women will feel comfortable going to alone. Haruna seems to have warmed to the restaurant game: she now has two other places—A. Garden in Sangenjaya, near Sakura-Shinmachi station in Setagaya-ku, and Garden Diner + in Roppongi.

1F, 3-1-32 Shinmachi, Setagaya-ku. Tel: 03-6431-0417. Open Tue-Sat 5:30pm-1am (LO midnight), Sun 5:30pm-midnight (LO 11pm), closed Mon. Nearest stn: Sakura-Shinmachi (Den-en-toshi line). www.angellove.jp/agdiner

Ryudo Uzaki

Musician and actor Ryudo Uzaki (Homeless Chugakusei) teamed up with his wife, writer and lyricist Yoko Aki, to open restaurant-slash-live-house November Eleventh 1111 in 1997. The menu has a distinctly European slant, with pastas and meat and fish dishes that change according to the season, backed up by a respectable wine list of French and Italian vintages. Performances are held every night, running the gamut from rock to jazz to flamenco.

2F, 3-17-8 Akasaka, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3588-8104. Open Mon-Fri 6-11pm, Sat-Sun & hols 5-11pm. Nearest stn: Akasaka or Akasaka-Mitsuke. www.risingdragon.jp

Akiko Wada

Akiko Wada doesn’t suffer fools gladly, so it’s no surprise to discover that her restaurant chain displays a fastidious attention to detail. From ingredients to tableware, everything at Wadaya has been carefully chosen by the veteran singer and actress. The food focuses on fresh produce, vegetable dishes and seafood, with the late opening hours making it ideal for overworked and undernourished salarymen. She’s obviously onto a good thing: Wadaya now has five shops, including three in Osaka.

Nishi-Azabu: B1F, 3-1-20 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5785-0411. Open 6pm-5am (LO 3am), Sun & hols 5:00pm-midnight. Nearest stn: Roppongi, exit 1.
Ginza: B1F, 6-6-11 Ginza, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3569-0410. Open 5pm-4am (LO 3am), Sun & hols 5pm-midnight (LO 11pm). Nearest stn: Ginza, exit B5.www.wada-ya.com

Bae Yong-joon

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This high-end Korean restaurant doesn’t make a big deal about its celebrity “general adviser,” presumably because they aren’t angling for the obachan lunch crowd. Gosireh’s chic interior design and menu—consisting of modern updates of traditional Korean staples, made without artificial seasonings—are actually the brainchild of bespectacled pretty boy actor Bae Yong-joon.

1-2F, 1-25-19 Shirokane, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5795-0540 (for reservations). Open daily 11am-3pm (LO 2pm) and 5-11pm. Nearest stn: Shirokane-Takanawa. www.gosireh.com

Toshiro Mifune

Movie star Toshiro Mifune died over a decade before the izakaya bearing his name opened, but let’s not get distracted by that. Ryouri-ya Mifune comes decked out like a dojo, and the menu does its best to adhere to the legendary actor’s philosophy of “simplicity, honor and bravery.” In practice, this involves Japanese staples such as sashimi, “samurai kushi” skewers, dengaku, and the wonderfully named Hidden Fortress Longevity Pot.

1F, 7-18-7 Roppongi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-6804-5548. Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-1:30pm (LO) and 5-11:30pm (LO), closed Sun. Nearest stn: Roppongi. www.mifune-project.com/en

Research by Desirea Camacho and Nana Imanaka