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Tokyo

Vegetarian meal Daigo

醍醐

Shojinryori Daigo must not be missed for the quintessential traditional Japanese dining experience in the heart of Tokyo. A splendid feast for all and the perfect choice for vegans; nowhere else in the metropolis can you soak up an atmosphere like this over dinner, with a traditional Japanese garden and the wonderful aroma of incense and tatami. Frequented by ambassadors and dignitaries, you might expect a certain stiffness at a place like this steeped in Japanese history and culture, but prepare to be wowed by friendly, approachable hospitality.

Shojinryori Daigo was established in 1950 at the base of Tokyo’s Mt. Atago. Though diminutive in height and now dwarfed by high-rise buildings, Atago is the tallest mountain in Tokyo’s central wards. The founder opened the restaurant within Seishoji, one of the most famous temples in the Soto school of Zen Buddhism. It has been carefully passed on through the generations, now safely in the hands of the fourth-generation owner, Chef Yusuke Nomura.

Situated halfway between Roppongi and Ginza, guests can arrive through one of two entrances via Seishoji temple or the modern building’s circular driveway. Whatever your path to get here, you will know this is the chance to change pace and let time pass ever so gently and quietly as soon as you smell the combination of sandalwood and sweet fragrance from long-time incense maker Daihatsu. Cross the threshold where you remove your shoes and allow the kimono-clad staff to guide you through the interior designed in the sukiya style typical of tea ceremony.

Each group dines in one of eight private rooms overlooking the garden. A traditional alcove holds seasonal flowers and a calligraphy scroll from the restaurant’s collection of over 100. Neither is intended to steal the show, yet both are sure to delight guests whose eyes they catch. A design feature sure to please is the sunken table seating allowing guests to extend their legs and relax.

Honoring the same style of cuisine since inception, Chef Nomura incorporates exquisitely innovative elements sure to please every diner – vegan or otherwise. Guests can witness the shifting seasons not only in these accouterments or through the window but in the dishes that comprise a complete course of Buddhist cuisine in a kaiseki format. The utensils sit in a sleeve adorned with characters that say ‘lightning-repellent chopsticks’, indicating their origin in trees from the mountains of Takayama, Gifu Prefecture, said to have never been struck by lightning.

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CUISINE

A splendid feast for all and the perfect choice for vegans

A seasonal feast for the eyes and the palate, this is Buddhist vegetarian cuisine known as shojin ryori that has earned two Michelin stars every year for over a decade. In traditional kaiseki style, a full course journeys through fifteen dishes starting with an aperitif and ending with fruit and sweets. There are abridged versions, too, and the choice of course determines only the number of dishes, not the quality of the ingredients.

A plump Kamo eggplant from Kyoto is oven-baked for an hour to melt-in-the-mouth consistency. Topped with a sumptuous daikon sauce, green onions and ginger, it is a dish you will want to come back for time and again. Another highlight is the hassun course featuring premium ingredients in an appealing presentation that speaks of that precise moment. Always guided by the ancient Japanese lunisolar calendar, which contains twenty-four seasons, a late August dish may have elements of the vestiges of the Obon lantern festival while giving a hint of the Chrysanthemum Festival celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth month. The chef injects playful touches, like a leaf garnish that appears to have an okra growing out of it.

There are delectable bites of corn, and yam resting inside the threads of a lantern plant flower, and it is all garnished with sweet-pickled chrysanthemum flowers. Like a child in a toy store, it is hard to know where to start with this plate of visual and edible pleasure.

Dishes like soba and take-tofu unpressed tofu set in a bamboo cutting have been on the menu across the four generations of chefs. Dashi, topped up little by little over several decades, flavors the zosui rice porridge, which is filled with the rich flavor of nameko mushrooms and enjoyed with an array of pickles. Chef Nomura maintains those time-honored elements while adding personal flair to a menu by incorporating Western vegetables like artichoke. A little-known fact about Daigo is its abundant drink selection. More than 100 types of whiskey and exquisite wines fill the cellars, including Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Paul Déthune Ratafia. With no wine list, glimpses into the extensive selection come through dining here multiple times. The best way is to share your preferences and let the sommelier surprise you.

INGREDIENTS
Daigo’s ingredients are procured from Toyosu wholesalers who have been supplying the restaurant for decades. Chef Nomura always consults the experts in their fields, knows the farmers who grow the produce, and has an intimate awareness of the terroir they hail from. Unlike animal products, with vegetables, it is all about timing. For the best bamboo shoots, for example, starting from Kagoshima and moving up to Tanba and then Tohoku, he sources from different regions across the Japan archipelago as spring sets in.

Nomura loves traveling to Japan’s regions and even incorporates ingredients encountered in his travels to China, France, and Latin America. He gets particular delight from seeing overseas guests excited about a totally new interpretation of a vegetable from their home country.

Vegetarian meal Daigo cuisine #0
Vegetarian meal Daigo cuisine #1

CHEF

Yusuke Nomura

Yusuke Nomura was born in Tokyo in 1981. His grandmother started Shojinryori Daigo, so he grew up witnessing the staff busy at work with his home and the restaurant all in one place. After the untimely death of his mother – the restaurant’s future proprietress – when Nomura was in junior high school, he was raised by the senior proprietress. A natural at customer interaction, Nomura worked as a bartender and sommelier after university and then started on the path of becoming a French chef. As the third child, he never planned to take over the business, but he was called to help rebuild Daigo at 27.

Many things about the restaurant were in his blood, having grown up in that environment, but on becoming head chef, Nomura grew passionate about his studies of Buddhism and washoku traditions. He also finds many valuable applications for the concepts from his years of learning tea ceremony and flower arranging. One Buddhist teaching that drives Nomura’s work is called Sanshin (Three Minds) and is found in an essay called Tenzo Kyokun (Instructions for the Cook) by Dogen, the founder of the Soto school of Zen Buddhism. The Three Minds concept applies more broadly to life in general, but in the world of cuisine, it refers to the joy of cooking, the joy of treating someone with your hospitality, and the joy of showing guests the utmost kindness.

In addition to daily restaurant operations, Chef Nomura is committed to teaching through lectures at The University of Tokyo and Kyoto’s Ritsumeikan University. He has traveled to America, France, Thailand, Turkey, China, and many other places to nurture successors and progress himself. This chef, who cherishes the roots of his cuisine but is not afraid to press forward, has several fascinating business ideas on the horizon. He wants to capitalize on the success seen with the vegan pouch curry released in 2020 flavored with fruit and aromatic spices. Nomura’s goal is to crush stereotypes surrounding shojin ryori and surprise people who visit with muted expectations for his cuisine.

VISION
Nomura’s mission is to pass Shojinryori Daigo on to the next generation, protecting the creation of his ancestors and seeing it through to one hundred years. While Japan is a leader in the culinary field, it is woefully behind in vegan cuisine, so Nomura feels responsible for changing perceptions of shojin ryori. It will require product development and collaborative projects with artists and overseas creators, but Nomura is committed to tackling that goal from multiple directions.

JAPANESE GARDEN

Dining at Daigo is the chance to sit mindfully observing a breathtaking traditional landscape garden. Each private room offers a different aspect of the Japanese garden, which allows you to relax and forget the clamor of one of the world’s metropolises for a while. Accented by stones and basins that have belonged to the restaurant since its inception, the face of the garden shifts with the seasons: brilliant green with new verdure from spring through summer and aflame with color in autumn. Come June, you may even be treated to the magical glow of fireflies. It is not just the sights but the sounds too. When the chirping of cicadas in summer is replaced with the meditative sounds of suzumushi bell crickets, you know autumn has arrived.

Course

Lunch/ Dinner
Ume course menu
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
¥29,500
¥29,500
Reservation Request
Lunch/ Dinner
Take course menu
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
¥33,500
¥33,500
Reservation Request
Lunch/ Dinner
Ran course menu
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
¥37,000
¥37,000
Reservation Request

Tokyo

Vegetarian meal Daigo

醍醐

MICHELIN
2
STAR
PRICE
¥29,500
~
CHILD
0
& UP
VEGAN
WELCOME
LUNCH
OPEN
MIN GUESTS
2
PEOPLE
~
GENRE
Kaiseki, Atago
ADDRESS
2F, 2 Chome-3-1 Atago, Minato City, Tokyo 105-0002, Japan
OPEN
Lunch: 11:30-14:00 (Last entry), Dinner: 17:00- 20:00 (Last entry)
CLOSED
New year holidays
URL
NA
PHONE
NA

RESERVATION

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