In the heart of Kyoto, a talented young chef is taking on a challenge to reimagine Japanese cuisine. Experimenting with nontraditional ingredients, Chef Tsukasa Miyashita is devoted to creating new flavors that entertain his guests. A former apprentice at renowned Gion Sasaki, he is set to take his skills to another level with surprising combinations like fish spring rolls and sushi rice porridge. “It’s a given that the food is delicious,” he explains. “Our guests deserve an exciting experience.”
Surrounded by famous temples and museums, Higashiyama Tsukasa is situated in the cultural district of Okazaki. Even before the opening in November 2021, there were rumors that a great young chef was looking to set up a restaurant in the area. It was hard to get a reservation from the start.
Miyashita comes with years of top-notch culinary training. He spent six years as an apprentice at Gion Maruyama before spending a decade at Gion Sasaki. It was always his dream to open his own restaurant by the age of 35. It was then that he began looking for a property in Okazaki.
It’s a funny story about how he came to find the current property. One day, he was looking around the area and stopped at Konoshima Beer for a drink. He began chatting with Tetsu Kijima, an architect, who talked him into renting the second floor of the building. The two ended up working together on the restaurant.
Miyashita is also lucky to have found a great partner, Hiroaki Hongo, a sommelier and salesperson at Kenzo Estate winery. His expertise and business skills were instrumental in founding Higashiyama Tsukasa, the chef says.
Set with mustard-colored walls, the restaurant’s minimalist interior is timeless and inviting. The kitchen is leveled at the same height as the serving counter so that guests can enjoy watching the chef’s craftful techniques. The team put careful thoughts into the design to ensure the best dining experience for the guests.
A mix of traditional and modern
Reflecting his brilliant imagination, Miyashita’s dishes challenge standard methods of Japanese cuisine. A mix of traditional and modern, the omakase menu is made up of 8 dishes, rice and dessert. Fresh spring rolls and sushi rice porridge are among their signature dishes.
“I find it very important to respect the kind of restaurants I trained at, but Kyoto is full of them,” he says. “I swore to myself that I won’t compete with dishes that look just like theirs. I’m not just trying to be different but want to create a delicious Japanese menu using new techniques and ingredients.”
He continues to incorporate ingredients that are uncommon in traditional kaiseki, such as pork, beef tongue and duck. The occasional appearance of curry rice on the menu is a surprise to many guests.
“I love it when we can offer our guests something new and exciting,” he says.
Even the signature dishes change from one season to the next. The fish used in the spring rolls switches from honmoroko (willow gudgeon) in the spring to ayu sweetfish in the summer. In the winter, he wraps mackerel or even oysters coupled with condiments such as sichuan sauce and vinegared miso.
Thanks to the talented sommelier and business partner, the drinks pairing is excellent with each glass complimenting the flavor of the dish. Hongo handpicks not only great wines but local sake and seasonal cocktails to keep the guests entertained.
Plated beautifully on top of a bed of needle-thin leaves, signature fresh spring rolls are packed with rich flavors. The heads of deep-fried honmoroko peep out of the rolled rice paper, wrapped with green radish, yellow chives, perilla leaves and vinegared miso.
Hamaguri clam tempura is bursting with the taste of the sea. The fried shellfish feels light on the outside but rich on the inside. The tempura sits on a thickened clam dashi sauce infused with refreshing nanohana stalks.
Fuki butterbur porridge is another signature dish that is unique to Higashiyama Tsukasa. The aromatic porridge is made from a mix of rice and buckwheat groats, lightly vinegared and soaked with delicious dashi. The thin slices of flavored butterbur add a delicate accent. Each scoop unleashes rich flavors on your tongue.
For dessert, the baked warabi mochi is a guest favorite. The sweet mochi is cooked in the oven, served with ice cream, kinako soybean powder and cardamom.
Not limited to local produce, he is keen to source the best ingredients from all over the world. He of course visits the local markets in Kyoto for fresh fish and vegetables from vendors he has worked with over the years. As Japanese cuisine centers on seasonal ingredients, he says he tries not to get stuck with typical combinations and instead finds new foods and flavors to incorporate into his menu.
As he experiments with non-Japanese cuisine, Miyashita has come up with his own XO sauce and began selling them on retail. The sauce has its own secret recipe using unusual ingredients like dried tomatoes, bonito flakes and shallots. The flavorful sauce goes perfectly on warm udon noodles as well as steamed chicken and pork. It’s a great condiment to spice up your everyday cooking, he says.
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥8,000
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥8,000