Yukiko Hayashi

Yukiko Hayashi

Food coordinator, researcher and nutritionist


Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on July 2009

Marie Wanibe

Marie Wanibe

Yukiko Hayashi has the sort of job that most food-lovers can only dream of. In her role as a ryori kenkyuka (food researcher), she’s responsible for thinking up new recipes and then making them a reality. Her career has taken her all over Japan and abroad, including frequent trips to Italy that resulted in a book, Kihon no Italian (“Italian Basics”). “I think it’s important to have international cultural exchanges with people around the world through food,” she says. “My challenge is to learn the language first, though!” In addition to her background as a chef, Hayashi is a certified Japanese tea advisor and a licensed sobarie—or soba sommelier.

Favorite places to eat
For Japanese food, I recommend Shimbashi Sasada and Ginza Uchiyama. At Shimbashi Sasada, the counter has just ten seats and there’s only one omakase (chef’s recommendation) course. Hamo (pike eel) is currently in season, and thanks to the chef’s training at renowned restaurant Kyoaji, he has the skill to bring out the best in this fish. At the end of the meal, he serves rice cooked in a clay pot. It’s full of aroma, and you can enjoy the crispy burnt okoge at the bottom.

Ginza Uchiyama is open for lunch, and when I go to see kabuki, I love ordering the “Oritsume” bento, which you can only get by reservation. There never used to be any decent Japanese restaurants open in Ginza on Sundays, so Uchiyama is one of my most valuable restaurant finds.

My favorite soba restaurants are Sasuga in Ginza and Nemurian in Kanda. At Sasuga, you can enjoy thin soba with a delicate flavor. This restaurant is perfect for nighttime dining because it’s open late and has various dishes besides soba. Nemurian is a comfortable 80-year-old shitamachi restaurant that’s a bit hard to find. It’s popular among soba lovers because the cooks use flour from a variety of regions, which lets you compare the different flavors. Nemurian is the ideal place to go if you’re looking to have soba with drinks, as the menu has dishes like beef-bourbon stew.

For French food, I recommend Le Bourguignon in Roppongi. It’s a heartwarming restaurant full of the chef’s personality and passion. Lunch starts from ¥2,500, so it’s pretty easy on the wallet, too. You can tell the chef’s amazing skills from the high level of taste in each and every plate. I love the carrot mousse here.

Two Rooms<br><i>Courtesy of TWO ROOMS GRILL | BAR</i>

Two Rooms

Favorite places to drink
Utakata is an excellent wine bar near Nishi-Azabu crossing. The professional bartenders at Star Bar Ginza work their shakers while lined up at the counter. Two Rooms is a restaurant-bar that recently opened in the new AO Building in Omotesando. It has a spacious interior with high ceilings and an open-air layout. The table seats in the back of Narukiyo are available by reservation only, but the standing counter in the front is perfect for stopping by and enjoying shochu and food at a reasonable price.

Favorite place to shop
My office is in Omotesando, so I almost always go to Kinokuniya supermarket, but I also go to Tsukiji market a few times a month. Recently, it’s become difficult to shop there with so many groups of tourists. When cooking Western food, I go to Nissin World Delicatessen in Azabu-Juban for the wide selection of foods.

Favorite restaurant in the world
In Italy, I was lucky enough to dine with families and learn cooking from Italian housewives who ranged from their 30s to their 60s. There was just something about the food that a grandma in her 60s made that couldn’t be compared to anything else. But if you’re talking about the best cooking out of anywhere in the world, I’d say my mom’s. So my favorite restaurant would be my mother’s kitchen. She’s not the best cook ever, but that doesn’t matter.

Address Book

Ginza Uchiyama 2-12-3 Ginza, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3541-6720. Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-2pm and 5-9:30pm, closed Sun & hols. Nearest stn: Ginza-Itchome.

Kinokuniya B1F AO Bldg, 3-11-7 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3409-1231. Open daily 9:30am-9pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando. www.e-kinokuniya.com

Le Bourguignon 3-3-1 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5772-6244. Open Thu-Tue 11:30am-3pm and 6-11:30pm, closed Wed and second Tue of the month. Nearest stn: Roppongi.

Narukiyo B1, 2-7-14 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5485-2223. Open Mon-Fri 5:30-11:30pm, Sat-Sun & hols 4:30-9:30pm. Nearest stn: Shibuya.

Nemurian 1-16-4 Kanda-Sudacho, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-3251-5300. Open Mon-Wed 5:30-9pm, Thu-Sat noon-2pm and 5:30-9pm, closed Sun & hols. Nearest stn: Kanda. www.nemurian.net

Nissin World Delicatessen 2-34-2 Higashi-Azabu, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3583-4586. Open daily 9am-9pm. Nearest stn: Azabu-Juban. www.nissinham.co.jp

Shimbashi Sasada 1-18-8 Shimbashi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3507-5501. Open Mon-Sat 6-10pm, closed Sun & hols. Nearest stn: Shimbashi.

Sasuga 1-19-12 Ginza, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3567-0012. Open Tue-Sat 11:30am-2pm and 5:30pm-2am, Sun & hols noon-3pm and 5-11pm, closed Mon. Nearest stn: Ginza-Itchome.

Star Bar Ginza B1, 1-5-13 Ginza, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3535-8005. Open Mon-Fri 6pm-2am, Sat 5-11pm, closed Sun & hols. Nearest stn: Ginza-Itchome.

Two Rooms 5F AO Bldg, 3-11-7 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3498-0002. Open daily 11:30am-2:30pm and 6-11:30pm; lounge and bar 11:30pm-2am. Nearest stn: Omotesando. www.tworooms.jp

Utakata 5F, 1-12-4 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-6661-8682. Open Mon-Sat 6pm-3am, closed Sun & hols. Nearest stn: Hiroo.