Delicious Debuts

Delicious Debuts

A host of big-name chefs and restaurateurs are adding star power to the Tokyo dining scene


Originally published on on January 2008

Courtesy of PJ Group

Courtesy of PJ Group

Paul Bocuse After a rocky debut at Brasserie Paul Bocuse Le Musée in Roppongi (which our reviewer called “joyless”), the renowned French chef recovered nicely at two eateries across town. In the new Marronier Gate dining and shopping complex, visitors to Brasserie Paul Bocuse Ginza can enjoy prix fixe lunch menus starting at ¥4,500 while taking in views of the city from the stately 10th-floor dining room. At the chef’s newest restaurant in the Daimaru complex in Tokyo station, the menu features monthly specials, like chicken confit and lentil-and-bacon stew, available through the end of January. The interiors at all three restaurants are the work of celebrated Japanese designer Kisho Kurokawa.

Roppongi: 03-5770-8161. Ginza: 03-5159-0321. Daimaru: 03-5218-2211. See for more info.

Francis Ford Coppola The director of such seminal American films as Apocalypse Now and The Godfather made diners an offer they couldn’t refuse with his debut eatery, located in Roppongi. Coppola’s Vinoteca offers reasonably priced wines from the filmmaker’s well-regarded Northern California vineyard, including a series named after his daughter (and Lost in Translation director), Sofia. The interior features a sinuous bar, open kitchen and glass-enclosed entryway lined with hundreds of bottles. The food menu complements the wine and includes simple pizzas, pasta and appetizers.

Tokyo Midtown, 9-7-4 Akasaka, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5647-8301. Open daily 11am-3pm and 5pm-midnight. Nearest stn: Roppongi.

Terence Conran The elder statesman of modern design already operates two popular homewares shops in the city, but made his Tokyo restaurant debut with a trio of very different eateries. In Roppongi’s Midtown complex, Botanica occupies pride of place on the top floor, offering modern European fare (as well as good old roast beef) in an elegant yet unstuffy space. Downstairs at Noodle Workshop, visitors can mix and match a variety of pastas and sauces for around ¥1,000, an option that’s popular with local workers. Conran’s flagship Tokyo restaurant is the sumptuous Iconic, where well-heeled Ginza shoppers can enjoy a pricey lunch on the top floor of the new Velvia-kan complex.

Botanica: 03-5547-0561. Noodle Workshop: 03-5413-3280. Iconic: 03-3562-7500. See for more info.

Bill Granger When Australian celebrity chef Bill Granger cooks breakfast, it’s not your typical start-of-the-day meal. Granger’s soft and creamy scrambled eggs and ricotta pancakes with honeycomb butter have been called the “World’s Best Breakfast” by the likes of the London Times. In October, when the chef brought his signature cooking to Tokyo at the limited-time-only Bills Café in Daikanyama, the lines stretched around the block. For 2008, the Aussie plans to open a full-time restaurant in March in Shonan.

Check for updates.

Luke Mangan Australia’s best-known celebrity chef dazzled locals last spring with Salt (left), his debut Tokyo restaurant in the tony Shin-Marunouchi Building. Mangan, who began his empire with the original Salt in Sydney’s Kirketon Hotel and who trained with the likes of the Michelin-starred Marco-Pierre White, is also a caterer whose clients include the Danish Royal family. Salt’s menu marries Australian ingredients with an international spirit in such exuberant dishes like roasted lamb with white-anchovy crust and seared scallops with grilled eel, chorizo, ponzu, tabouleh and fresh apple. Oenophiles, meanwhile, will appreciate the 1,000-strong list of exclusively Down Under wines. An expat favorite and the perfect place for gustatory exploration, Salt was described as “Tokyo’s most exciting restaurant” by our reviewer in October.

6F Shin-Marunouchi Bldg, 1-5-1 Marunouchi. Tel 03-5288-7828. Open daily 11am-3:30pm and 5:30-11pm. Nearest stn: Tokyo or Nijubashimae.

Patrice Martineau A veteran of such prestigious eateries as Daniel in New York (where he served as chef d’cuisine), Patrice Martineau arrived in Tokyo in early 2007 to head up Peter, located atop the sparkling new Peninsula Hotel. The 32-year-old native of Troyes, France, has made the 24th-floor destination a foodie hotspot, serving up dynamic international fare like foie gras terrine with poached rhubarb and grilled toro tuna with braised fennel and bottarga-shiso salad. The stunning interior, by North American design team Yabu Pushelberg, features floor-to-ceiling windows
and a classic Japanese color motif of deep purple and lavender.

24F The Peninsula Tokyo, 1-8-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-6270-2763. Open daily 11:30am-2:30pm (lunch) and 6-10pm (dinner); Sun-Thu 5pm-midnight, Fri-Sat 5pm-1am (bar).

Wataru Okawa Tokyo gourmands already consider Roppongi’s Grand Hyatt a can’t-miss destination thanks to restaurants like The Oak Door, French Kitchen and Chinaroom. Add to that list Keyakizaka, which earned a coveted star in Tokyo’s first Michelin guide less than a year after its 2007 debut. Headed by Wataru Okawa, a former sous chef at The Oak Door and a veteran of the Imperial and the Westin Tokyo hotels, the restaurant drew raves from Michelin for its top-quality ingredients, including rare varieties of Japanese beef such as Igagyu and Imarigyu. Lunch from ¥4,400.

6F Grand Hyatt, 6-10-3 Roppongi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-4333-8782. Open daily 11:30am-2:30pm.

Hal Yamashita Unlike other chefs who specialize in “fusion” cuisine, Hal Yamashita eschews the international approach. The Kobe native and restaurateur, who made his Tokyo debut with an eponymous restaurant in Roppongi’s Midtown complex, creates singular dishes using ingredients from locales known for quality meat, seafood and vegetables. Dishes like “one bite” curry rice with Kobe beef, shochu-steamed anko with “teriyaki-style” white daikon, and yam gratin with oysters from Okayama Prefecture make dramatic use of local ingredients, while flavorings come courtesy of the chef’s vast spice rack: six varieties of miso, eight soy sauces and 10 salts. Lunch courses ¥2,650-¥9,400.

9-7-4 Akasaka, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5413-0086. Open Tue-Sun 11am-3pm and 5:30pm-midnight. Nearest stn: Roppongi.