From the simplest homemade bread and butter to dishes that are creative beyond compare, some even defying logic, Toranomon COH offers a previously unseen perspective and an intriguing chef whose personal dislike for cooking has been the source of inspiration in his cuisine. Curious? You won’t be disappointed.
The former chef of Ginza Jin serves his highly creative cuisine on a totally new stage. After opening in April 2017, Ginza Jin was renowned for the impossibility of booking a seat until it closed temporarily in October 2018. Transplanted and transformed into Toranomon Coh, the new restaurant opened on May 1, 2019, the very first day of the new emperor’s reign. And the imperial connection goes further because, as the chef explains, Toranomon’s name is linked to the four animals who are said to rule over the four cardinal points of the imperial palace. A vermillion bird in the south, a black tortoise in the north, and a blue dragon in the east are joined by a white tiger, tora in Japanese, who is said to rule over the western heavens. The kanji representing the restaurant name COH symbolizes the powerful roar of the tiger and the chef’s arrival in Toranomon, the site of his original dreams for opening.
Greeting you at the base of the stairs leading underground is the familiar moon motif. With piqued expectation, take just one step inside and you will be overwhelmed by the breathtaking interior designed by the chef’s childhood friend. The magnificent space is the perfect backdrop for Chef Sato, who is center stage, ready to wield his magic. The close proximity between chef and guest was a key factor in the design, with utmost importance placed on service temperature. The stunning hinoki cypress counter, which Sato traveled to Nara to personally inspect, creates perfect angles enveloping the kitchen space. With room for ten, each guest is embraced by the elegant curves of an antique chair from Kyoto antique shop Wellington. Carefully planned lighting and ducting, exposed pipes, and a copper sink with a burnt finish, produced by Atelier Key-men in Shiga Prefecture: it’s clear that Chef Sato has a soft spot for wood-metal combinations. It’s easy to see why. The interior is trendy and tasteful and leaves you feeling perfectly relaxed.
Creative beyond compare.
Chef Sato’s cuisine sits at the extreme of genre-less. His unique sensibilities have led to the creation of foods that he describes as simultaneously exhibiting transparency and depth, perhaps best represented by his simple white rice and homemade bread. The skillful weaving of vast genres has brought him to focus sharply on fundamentals. He knows he is going progressively simpler; he feels that’s right for these times.
The flavors of the very first dish served exemplify the chef’s unique perspective on cuisine. Entitled “Dashi bordering on water“, the clear soup stock is drawn from Rishiri kombu and delicately flavored bonito flakes. The final touch of flavor is added by plunging in a fish which until a moment ago was roasting over Tosa Binchotan charcoals. The appearance belies the depth of flavor and the dish is a thoughtful welcome gift for diners’ hungry tummies. The meal is set to begin.
A course meanders dreamily from a fried dish to a raw dish, then steamed dish, bread, trio of grilled items, palate cleanser, second steamed dish, meat dish, rice, and finally, dessert. Coming from a European cooking background, to Chef Sato, baking his own bread is a must. Extremely delicate, the bread is served at its peak with homemade butter that is adjusted daily for the perfect salt levels, and an oil accented with the deep flavor of shellfish stock. Chef Sato has extracting both Japanese and western style stocks down to an exacting science. But some additions may take you by surprise, like a touch of bear to flavor the light consommé accompanying a meat dish. With the many surprising turns the meal takes, allow yourself to be thrilled by the moment and blown away by the creativity.
Meats are supplied from Shiso City in Hyogo Prefecture, and Hokkaido’s ELEZO, a specialist hunting and farming company. Blessings from the land such as bear, deer, and pheasant are complemented by the freshest fish sent direct from Awaji and Akashi on the Seto Inland Sea. Sato also has a penchant for fine vegetables, sourcing tomatoes, for example, from Mishima, Osaka, best known for Yamazaki whiskey. Rice from Takeda in Oita Prefecture is the Hinohikari variety grown by a farmer dedicated to natural farming methods, including the use of bamboo charcoal. Known for the plump, rounded grains that gain a smooth and glossy finish upon cooking, Sato maximizes flavor by cooking the rice in his favorite giant iron pan.
The chef implores you to bring along your favorite bottle of wine to accompany your meal. Guests familiar with the previous restaurant will notice a significantly smaller selection of champagne and burgundy wines, but the Japanese sake selection includes Kokuryu, Kuheiji, and Hidakami, among others.
TOOLS / WARES
Striking a dignified pose right by Sato’s side is his collection of knives from Futaba Shokai in Saga Prefecture, handmade pieces that chefs flock to get their hands on. Master craftsman Sakashita personally created and gifted Chef Sato a brand-new knife with a deer antler handle and engraved with the character for COH. Completing the gift in celebration of this new space opening is a display shelf that takes pride of place on the rear wall of the restaurant. There’s no mistaking Sato’s adoration for the knives and this exquisite, thoughtful gift. One new item in this magician’s bag of tricks, timed with the move to the new location, is a large antique iron pot. Sitting proudly in the kitchen, clearly visible to guests, the pot is used to steam rice. The one-meter wide pot presents some challenges for the chef, but the result of his trials is outstandingly delicious.
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥4,000
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥4,000