Chinese cuisine meets contemporary aesthetics. From dumplings to dan dan mian, Keyakizaka Wasa has reconstructed classic Chinese recipes into a modern craft. Experimenting with only the highest-quality ingredients, every dish is a product of their pursuit for perfection.
Fans were thrilled by the news that Wasa was relocating from its remote Meguro neighborhood to the iconic Roppongi Hills complex. Reestablished in early 2018, the new Wasa continues to be one of the most popular restaurants in town, with local and international foodies fighting for reservations for an ultimate culinary experience.
Away from bustling crowds and traffic, the restaurant sits on the quiet Keyakizaka hill that hugs around the skyscrapers. Its entrance stands majestically with an iron door set under a round arch made of gold bricks and concrete. The beautiful fusion of modern decor and Asian motifs creates a luxurious ambiance, building up to the meal to be enjoyed.
The interior is spacious and surprisingly minimalist to ensure the guest’s attention is on the food, and not anything else. A white counter stretches across the room with just 6 seats for the lucky guests. “I wanted to keep the restaurant intimate,” Chef Masataka Yamashita says. “It’s the ideal size for me to share the experience with the guest.”
Sitting up close in front of the open kitchen, guests can gaze at his skillful moves as he perfects every dish. The experience becomes more than just a meal but entertainment that stages his dynamic and delicate cuisine. Don’t forget to tuck in while the dish is still hot.
Behind the chef’s culinary success is the family. With the restaurant taking after her maiden name, his wife, Mrs. Yamashita, plays a crucial role. Since the restau rant opened more than a decade ago, she always gets the first taste of the menu and has offered valuable critique using her excellent palate. She has been there for him as his partner every step of the way.
Reminding him of true craftsmanship and remarkable aesthetics, the chef has hung a piece of painting by Toichi Kato. Not only a renowned Japanese painter of the Nihonga style, he is also the chef’s grandfather.
Chinese cuisine meets contemporary aesthetics
“Umami comes from work while flavor from subtraction,” Yamashita repeats the words of Hitoshi Furuta, his mentor and head chef of Kaikatei. “I will do whatever it takes and however long it takes, to create the best tasting food. These words have become my core philosophy.”
Many of Yamashita’s recipes have been inspired by the teachings of his mentor, including key signature dishes like his karasumi rice noodles. Wasa’s exquisite meal is made up of 10 courses. Despite the large number of dishes, the food sits lightly on the stomach.
“I think my dan dan mian shows how important it is for a dish to have a great balance,” he says. “First, sip the soup without touching the noodles. Then, take a few strings of noodles at a time so you gradually get pieces of the miso-flavored meat. This allows you to enjoy a crescendo of flavors.”
At Wasa, even the simplest condiments like zha cai, pickled mustard plant stem, becomes a superb dish. Infused with sesame oil and scallions, the pickles are crunchy and refreshing, with a good strong taste of salt. Another favorite for the fans is the fried dumplings, which the chef calls Chinese-style raviolis. The secret behind the unforgettable texture is that the dumplings are cooked al dente.
The classic gyoza is transformed into a fun tasting experiment, a result of countless trial and errors. Placed on a simple white plate are two sets of dumplings, comparing Meishan and Aino Natural, both top-notch brands of Japanese pork, along with two homemade chili sauces. The description of each is handwritten on the plate, an idea that the chef borrowed from SHÓKUDŌ YArn. He’s always been quick to spot and incorporate good ideas.
Served in a glass bowl with delicate bubbles-like design, is the signature rice noodle dish. The dish is an incredible assortment of delicacies starting with a fine powder of karasumi on the bottom, covered with a morsel of rice noodles mixed with caviar, and topped with a layer of soft karasumi flakes. For the classic home dish, banbanji, Yamashita’s recipe uses slow-cooked chicken confit, instead of boiled chicken, for a deeper and richer flavor. The tasty thighs of Daisendori chicken are dressed with an incredible scallion sauce, and accompanied with flavored cucumber sticks.
“Wasa equals negi,” some long-time fans of the restaurants began commenting as such a few years ago. Indeed, Wasa’s cuisine won’t be the same without Japanese long onions. But these are no simple onions. Yamashita carefully prepares them by resting the cut onions for a couple of days. Wasa’s dumpling wrappers are custom made by a noodle maker Yahata Seimenjo. Using extra thin sheets of dough, they carefully cut out them into circles, 2.95 inches in diameter to be exact. The entire process is done by hand, reflecting the chef’s desire to make the perfect dumplings.
As a natural result of looking for the best produce available, he procures from all over the country. For pork, he uses a mix of Kurobuta, Aino Natural and Meishan brands. The key vegetables like garlic comes from Aomori, garlic chives from Ibaragi and ginger from Shimane.
Yamashita has found a talented sommelier to manage Wasa’s drink selection, which needs to be diverse enough to complement both the strong and soft flavors of Chinese cuisine. Whether it’s wine or sake, every glass is of quality, just like every dish. The wine list stocks many French and Italian bottles, while the sake brands include some rare finds from small breweries.
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥4,000
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥4,000