One taste of this cuisine filled with respect for every last ingredient and you will understand why so many people adore Ode. Many may know the chef from earlier forays or have visited Ode during its five years since opening, but tireless work to elevate the cuisine and service to the next level has left every dish refined and perfected. This is a dining destination you will want to visit time and again.
Meander to the end of the main shopping street in Hiroo – an upmarket neighborhood in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward – to a building where this French restaurant opened on the second floor in September 2017. A large grey door stands before you. To the right hangs a simple sign with the restaurant’s name, and on the left the mark of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, an accolade that has opened the door to many collaborative events with well-known overseas chefs. Earning a Michelin star and climbing the ranks in Asia's 50 Best Restaurants year after year since opening, Ode is in the sights of many gourmands at home and abroad.
Once inside, the interior in varying tones of gray provides the perfect stage for Chef Namai’s many elegant and fascinating creations. A U-shaped counter seats thirteen in a chef’s table setting allowing every guest to witness the chef’s magnificent moves. There is also a very private room for four and a room that seats six in a semi-private setting. The wall of the latter is adorned with a work of art featuring three skateboards printed with the famous black and yellow dot art of Yayoi Kusama. This choice combines Namai’s love of skateboarding with his desire to wow overseas guests with the artwork of one of Japan’s premier artists. The striking floral displays are by Sorcery Dressing, which has stores in nearby Ebisu and Daikanyama. The flowers bloom vigorously behind the counter, and everywhere you look there are bursts of color and decorative greenery.
Respect for every last ingredient
‘Ode’ refers to a lyric poem of praise in both French and English, and it is a word the chef loves because it is about exaltation of feelings. Chef Namai is dedicated to presenting producers’ sentiments and sharing his own feelings through his dishes, thus, to dine at Ode is to be satiated of course by the flavors, but also by the incredible stories each dish tells.
The degustation courses feature an array of seasonal ingredients in around seven dishes at lunchtime and eleven dishes for dinner. Chef Namai honors his beginnings at Ode with an enduring signature dish, but also serves up new creations that exhibit his growth and journey as a chef. He always places great importance on the classic French element of sauces while offering gastronomy infused with a rich sense of the modern and innovative.
Ode’s signature sardine dish is a picture of gray to match the restaurant’s interior, but the very bland appearance belies the wonderful flavors within. Crack through the meringue made with sardine bones to reveal Ozaki beef tartare, and devour the flavors of umami-rich red meat and aromatic onion, with a refreshing aftertaste of lemon. Guests will no doubt be visually wowed by the gleaming “Dragonball” amuse bouche, but the true impact of this creation is in the flavors that take as many twists and turns as the stories in the pages of its namesake – the chef’s favorite childhood manga. Sink your teeth through the cacao coating to have the heartwarming flavors of lobster bisque gush onto your palate, followed by a hint of Cointreau and an aromatic citrus finish.
The inclusion of the “Dragonball” and four or so more finger foods is a message from the chef that even though this is fine dining, it should not feel stiff. You are here to relax, unwind, and enjoy to your heart’s content. There is one more reason: Chef Namai wants guests to enjoy the contrast of whole plates containing an array of flavors and the delicious impact of single-bite finger foods. Ode has very popular pairing courses and if you enjoy alcoholic libations, this is a chance to try wines from around the world with Ode’s unique cuisine. This includes a surprising and altogether perfect pairing for the signature sardine dish called ‘afruge Ma Cherie 2018’, an aged sake matured in sherry barrels by Chiba Prefecture’s Kidoizumi Brewery. The non-alcoholic pairing course centers on Taiwanese teas made by steeping the leaves slowly and gently in cold water for 48 hours to maximize the umami. An additional pillar of Ode cuisine is one driven by the sustainability imperative. Chef Namai is engaged in all kinds of fermentation to reduce waste and works to give new life to produce through sauces. Guests can also enjoy the umami and unique textures of semi-dried ingredients at many turns throughout the meal.
The vast majority of ingredients come from producers Chef Namai personally visited on his travels around Japan prior to Ode’s opening. He invests his time in developing and nurturing relationships with producers to find the best for his guests, leading him to farmers who see their work as a daily conversation with the land. Seafood comes from fishermen who care deeply about the ocean ecosystem who Namai encountered at ports spanning the Japanese archipelago, from the Goto Islands to Kanazawa, Yawatahama, and Hakodate.
One of the teas served at the conclusion of the meal is a homemade sustainable tea. The blend is a mixture of dehydrated offcuts from bitter gourd, mustard spinach, tomatoes and whatever else is in season at the time. Steeped in a Nambu Tekki cast ironware pot, this signature drink is both tasty and thought-provoking – a fitting end to a meal by Chef Namai. Another of his initiatives involves the coffee stand on the first floor next door called BGM Coffee & Vibes. There Namai has implemented machines that create compost by breaking down kitchen waste and other organic matter.
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥8,000
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥8,000