Redefining Nagoya’s local dining scene is a young chef with a vision to reimagine authentic French cuisine. Made to leave “resonance and memory” in the guest’s mind, the curated recipes at Reminiscence ride on his creativity to transform seasonal ingredients into flavorful works of art. Book early to be one of the eight lucky parties of the evening.
Committed to staging an unforgettable culinary experience, Head Chef Masaki Kuzuhara keeps his guestlist short, allowing only eight parties for the entire evening. From the signature eel dish to sea urchin appetizer, he curates a parade of unique and beautiful recipes that combine modern aesthetics and traditional approaches.
Having trained at two of the top French establishments in Japan—Quintessence in Tokyo and Hajime in Osaka—he has this incredible ability to mix and match ingredients from various parts of the country. Now proud to be based in his hometown of Nagoya, his cuisine is playful, experimental and simply stunning.
Opened in July 2015, the small restaurant is conveniently located on a block near Shirakawa Park, just about 10 min from Nagoya Station. He initially wanted somewhere even quieter but felt the location shouldn’t be too remote.
From the street, you can see the bright and minimalist interior of the restaurant through large windows. The windows look like a big picture frame when you are inside looking out, showcasing the beautiful scenes of four seasons, he adds. “When I first tried to imagine how I wanted the restaurant to look like, all I could see when I closed my eyes was a restaurant like this—all white on the inside with lots of light,” he recalls.
Once you step inside, the air is still and peaceful. The kitchen is tucked away in the back, allowing a spacious and quiet area for the guests. There is also a private room. The decor is modern and minimalist with tables set ample distances apart with rows of beautifully handcrafted chairs by Hans Wagner. Each table is set perfectly with a white silky table cloth, making you wonder of the beautiful colors and flavors to come.
Resonance, Memory, Solace and Recollection
The unique, and rather cryptic, menu is a reflection of how much thought the chef has poured into the cuisine. To create an appropriate flow and meaning, the meal of dozen or so dishes move through four different chapters: Resonance, Memory, Solace and Recollection. The description of each dish on the menu also doesn’t give away much, with just a line or two of the key ingredients.
“I want the experience at Reminiscence to leave a feeling of resonance and memory in every guest’s life,” he explains. This philosophical idea is something he has been cultaving for years and has become the core of his thinking behind every recipe.
Founded upon such ideology is his signature eel dish. He wanted to perfect the dish so much that he spent a lot of time researching and learning about eels. Just months before the restaurant’s opening, he decided to knock on the door of Houraiken, one of the most famous restaurants for himatsubushi, a classic Nagoya eel dish, asking them to train him.
The eel dish at Reminiscence is classically French. Delicately placed on a leaf-shaped plate, the fish comes in two pieces. Cooked on an impressive open grill, one piece is grilled and the other is smoked using cherry blossom wood chips. Served with a pair of chopsticks, the dish emcompasses a maginificent fusion of Japanese ingredients and French techniques.
There are countless ways to savor the eel dish with the sauces changing every season, says a devout fan who has tried the recipe 35 times. It’s great fun to pair the flavors with different vintages of white, rose and red wine, he adds.
The sea urchin dish is equally unforgettable. Kuzuhara likes to serve this as the first course and an introduction to his culinary style. On a smooth white plate that almost looks like a round rock, is a little mound of bright sea urchin pieces. On top is a mix of kuzu powder chips, homemade croutons and lily roots paste, adding flavor and texture.
Sweetfish, another popular Japanese summer catch, is transformed into a surprisingly new experience. Instead of the traditional grill, he batters and fries them into fritto. Dressed with different seasonal sauces like water pepper sauce, discover a completely new character in the fish.
A beautiful piece of shrimp is dressed with a light consommé foam made from shrimp broth and tomato, and served with fluffy couscous and paprika on the side. Tender pieces of pigeon from an Ibaragi farm is another popular dish, cooked using traditional French techniques.
The chef also creates with his own dessert recipes. The peach flavored dessert is shaved into a perfect sphere using an electric file and drizzled with aromatic rooibos tea sauce.
Their signature eel is bought directly from the local Nagoya market. As the home of himatsubushi dish, Nagoya has some of the best eels in the country. The sea urchin is also top grade and comes from Tokyo or Sapporo markets. Kuzuhara also cares for local made. From the flavorful bread from Baguette Rabbit to coffee beans from Jimlan Coffee, he incorporates delicious products from local makers and is all about supporting Nagoya businesses and craftsmanship.
The charcoal used for the grills is of the highest quality. Thanks to his link to Atsuta Horaiken, an eel restaurant that was founded in 1873, he can source some special charcoal from Kishu that is usually hard to get.
Kuzuhara has collected beautiful works of tableware, including original Arita porcelain pieces from Kamachi Toho and Gaku Shakunaga. He handpicks unique or custom designs that complement his creative dishes. The imaginative pieces of artwork become a part of the cuisine as each dish is beautifully presented in front of each guest.
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥4,000
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥4,000