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Tokyo

Ginza Kojyu

銀座小十

A perennial winner of three Michelin stars since 2008, Ginza Kojyu continues to push the boundaries of traditional Japanese cuisine. A believer in honmono, a Japanese concept of authenticity, Chef Toru Okuda’s dishes celebrates the four seasons using the finest delicacies from across the country. Every aspect of the experience from presentation to tableware is worth all the recognition that this establishment has won so far.

Named after the chef’s friend and late Karatsu-ware artist, Kojyu Nishioka, Ginza Kojyu opened in 2003 in the heart of Tokyo’s gourmet mecca. Found in a tiny property that fits merely 14 guests, the restaurant first struggled to lure customers, but the word about Okuda’s talent gradually spread. It moved to the current location on Namiki Dori in Ginza 5-Chome in 2012.

The ambiance of the restaurant is sophisticated and peaceful, set with traditional linear architecture. The beautiful counter that stretches across the room is made from a 270-year old hinoki tree. The surface is polished everyday with great care before it transforms into a stage for Okuda to perform his mastery. The shelves behind him display beautiful tableware like an art museum. There’s no other place with such a comprehensive collection of Nishioka’s work, the chef says.

A meal at Ginza Kojyu is not just the food but is a cultural experience. The serene atmosphere of the private rooms show just that. The rooms are decorated with subtle details such as ikebana flower arrangements and windows that look onto a little Japanese garden. The horigotatsu (low tables with sunken leg area) room fits as many as six guests, while the two rooms with tables both fit four people.

Okuda remains humble and undistracted by all the hype around his success. For instance, he was chatting with a foreign guest one evening and kept on recommending him to read Zagat, unaware that the gentleman was Jean-Luc Naret, the Directeur Général of the Michelin Guide himself.

At the top of his mind is to express and communicate the traditions of Japanese cuisine to people from all over the world. True to his vision, he now owns several restaurants, including Ginza Okuda, the sister restaurant located in the same building, and Paris Okuda in France. He also oversees Sushi Harumi in Ginza 7-Chome. Despite his successful expansion, he says that the root of his cuisine resides right here at Ginza Kojyu.

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CUISINE

A believer in authenticity

Okuda’s cuisine is founded on his desire to express the beauty of nature through the seasons. From the selection of ingredients to the exquisite presentation, every dish celebrates gifts of nature that surround us, precisely at that time of the year. Based on traditional principles, he overlays new approaches and techniques to bring about elements of surprise and playfulness.

This was particularly the case during the opening of the Paris restaurant, but for Okuda, the idea of honmono, a Japanese concept for authenticity, is extremely important. This is not limited to the cuisine itself but includes various aspects like tableware, tools and service. It’s this unbending commitment that has made Ginza Kojyu what it is today, and here is a glimpse of what a summer menu may look like.

Served in its spiky black shell, fresh sea urchin is shipped from Rebun Island, off the northwestern tip of Hokkaido. Hidden under the bright orange flesh is a scoop of corn sorbet that adds sweetness and umami. Presented on a glass plate with rocks of ice, the dish is cooling just to look at.

The crab noodle dish is a celebration of texture. Using kegani horsehair crab, the juicy meat is tossed with silky, thin Miwa somen noodles and placed on top of diced vegetables dressed with jelly made of crab shell broth. The orange kanimiso (crab innards) paste on top adds creaminess while a branch of umibudo sea grapes pop on your tongue.

The soup, the heart of traditional Japanese cuisine, is a perfect balance of subtle flavors. The clear broth is served in a beautiful black lacquer bowl with pieces of stonefish, edamame tofu, okura, junsai watershield and myoga ginger. Each ingredient contributes its delicate seasonal taste without overpowering others.

Wagyu beef is among the most popular ingredients at Ginza Kojyu. Today’s recipe uses the finest cut of Ozaki wagyu beef. Marinated in sukiyaki sauce and onions, the tender meat is slow cooked over charcoal. Okuda grills it carefully for over 25 minutes but is not at all overdone. The steak strips is covered with a mix of stir-fried harusame glass noodles and red and green slices of Manganji chile peppers.

Hamo pike conger is a summer delicacy that requires skill to prepare. The fillet needs to be sliced with many tiny slits to cut up the tiny bones but without cutting the skin. The softened slices are blanched and topped with pickled plum paste. Scattered across the plate are slices of starry flounder sashimi, zuiki taro stalks, diced cucumber, nagaimo yams cut into spheres and shiso jelly.

A piece of kuruma shrimp is presented with a colorful assortment of summer vegetables. Tomatoes, zucchini, baby corn, eggplant and peas are grilled over charcoal and drizzled with drops of sudachi citrus for freshness.

INGREDIENTS
Okuda selects most of his seasonal ingredients from his home prefecture of Shizuoka. He likes to source directly from local farmers and fishermen. In the summer, edamame beans from the area are superb. He also buys fish from the Toyosu market as well as Tokushima. He says Toyosu has the best selection of high-quality sea urchin.

For wagyu beef, he makes sure to pick the meat that is in the top condition. He uses only ranked No. 12 females, which means there are only about 5 in every 100 cows. “I choose based on the quality of the meat, not the brand,” the chef says.

The dried bonito flakes, the essence of dashi, comes from Kaneshichi Shoten in Makurazaki, a famous region for bonito flake production. The brand, called Classic Bushi, is matured in a room with music of Mozart playing in the background, to let the mould slowly coat the outside of the drying fish blocks.

Okuda is on a constant search for fine ingredients. These days, he is lucky that producers bring their top ingredients to him. Thanks to his years of experience, he has a sharp eye for the best finds.

Ginza Kojyu cuisine #0
Ginza Kojyu cuisine #1

CHEF

Toru Okuda

Born in Shizuoka in 1969, Okuda was an athletic kid, playing all sorts of sports like baseball, softball and soccer. When he was in high school, he began helping a relative who was a tuna vendor in the Shiogama Fish Wholesale Market in Sendai. Young Okuda was fascinated by the energy of the men working there, and began thinking about a career in the culinary business.

When he graduated high school, he started his apprenticeship in traditional Japanese cuisine at a local kappo restaurant inn, Kikuya. He lived at the inn and spent every spare minute studying and practicing. “I was just so hungry to learn,” he says. He even worked at a nightclub to improve his service skills.

He then came across a chance to move to his dream city of Kyoto, where he worked for Ayu-no-Yado Tsutaya, a high-end establishment that specialized in sweetfish. He internalized the mindset of top Kyoto chefs who were passionate about many different aspects of their work. The chefs themselves would spend a lot of time cleaning and maintaining the historic building that the restaurant was in.

Next, he moved on to join a famous restaurant, Aoyagi in Tokushima Prefecture on the eastern end of Shikoku Island. He had to start all over again at the bottom of the ladder, like running errands and driving the president’s car. Recognized for his hard work, he was named the manager of Aoyago Sogo branch at the age of 24.

Feeling ready to become independent, he opened his first restaurant in 1999 in Shizuoka Prefecture. Named Hanami Koji, the restaurant focused on the local cuisine of Suruga.

In 2003, he made a bold decision to move to Tokyo and open Ginza Kojyu. It was a tiny restaurant that fit just 14 guests. When it first opened, the restaurant struggled where it would be empty on many nights.

“There were moments where I was close to killing myself,” he confesses.

The word about Okuda’s talent gradually spread, luring more and more gourmands to visit. In 2008, it won the highest honor of three stars from the Michelin Guide when it published the first Tokyo edition. The restaurant has continued to win three stars every year since then.

He later opened a sister restaurant, Ginza Okuda in 2011, and Paris Okuda in France in 2013. When he was in Paris for his restaurant’s opening, he had the chance to meet with Alain Ducasse who would jokingly ask the Japanese chef not to take away his clients from him.

For many years, life was all about work for Okuda, building his business and studying different cuisines. Lately, he began realizing the importance of family and spends more time with his wife and children.

VISION
“I was 37 years old when I received my first three Michelin stars,” Okuda says. “It made me think about what God had in mind for me, and I suddenly realized that my life’s mission was to show and communicate the art of Japanese cuisine to the world.”

He also has been commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Food as Goodwill Ambassador for popularizing Japanese cuisine.

Okuda currently oversees a large group of about 30 staff. He wishes every one of his apprentices to be ready to succeed when they move on from Kojyu.

TABLEWARE

Okuda treasures the work of Kojyu Nishioka, the late master of Karatsu ware that the restaurant is named after. The chef came across the artist’s work when he was young and simply fell in love with it. When he was preparing for the opening of the restaurant, he and his friends thought of using the artist’s name. When they inquired with Nishioka, he gladly accepted the idea and made a piece in the honor of Ginza Kojyu. He would often come and dine at the restaurant until he passed away. “Our friendship was and is an invaluable asset to me,” Okuda says. “I love his work so much I think I own the most number of his pieces in Japan.”

Course

Lunch
Kojyu Lunch only omakase course
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
¥29,500
¥29,500
Reservation Request
Dinner/ Lunch
Kojyu Dinner/Lunch course (More luxurious ingredients)
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
¥42,000
¥42,000
Reservation Request

Tokyo

Ginza Kojyu

銀座小十

MICHELIN
2
STAR
PRICE
¥29,500
~
CHILD
12
& UP
PRIVATE ROOM
For 2-6 people
LUNCH
OPEN
MIN GUESTS
1
PERSON
~
GENRE
Kaiseki, Ginza
ADDRESS
Carioca building 4F, 5-4-8 Ginza,Chuo-ku,Tokyo 104-0061, Japan
OPEN
Lunch: 12PM-1PM (LO), Dinner 6PM0-9:30PM (LO)
CLOSED
Sunday
URL
NA
PHONE
81-3-6215-9544

RESERVATION

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