Devotion, passion and innovation – Jin’s chef creates truly new and inspiring cuisine, driven by artistic passion and a unique perspective. Comforting aromas waft, drawing you into the cosy space of Jin, where the bellies of even the most seasoned gourmands will be surprised and satiated by deep umami flavors, a jaw-dropping wine cellar, and genuine hospitality.
You enter an ordinary building amidst bars, clubs and eateries, but then you step into something special. Jet-black walls, polished marble floors and a wrought-iron sign with a delicate crescent moon – it is chic and sophisticated. And the aromas of roasting lamb and freshly baked bread that waft through the gap as the door opens are out of this world.
You pass the floor-to-ceiling cellar, and like emerging from behind a stage curtain, a thick mocha draping is opened to reveal the warm, cosy counter seating and the chef’s workspace. It’s a beautiful combination of a pale wood counter and elegant dark wood antique chairs, all accented with copper touches – a large copper basin, fish bubbling in dashi sitting in a copper pot over charcoals, and copper tube lighting spotlighting each seat. The counter is 200-year-old Nara hinoki Japanese cypress with just six seats in a half hexagon shape giving each pair a sense of privacy within this communal space.
The chef moves gracefully and quietly in his workspace of cherry wood cabinets and an old-fashioned freezer cooled with by block ice, tending to gas and charcoals, with all the implements he requires to create the incredible meal to come.
Feel the passion.
The cuisine here epitomises ‘Jin’ – an alternative reading of a classical Japanese character for dedication and devotion. The chef works endlessly, driven by his artistic passion and unique perspective to create truly new and inspiring food. Add to that an outstanding visual sense, and the feast for your eyes whets the appetite as each new dish arrives. The full course of fourteen dishes showcasing ingredients from the sea, rivers and fields, follows a kaiseki pattern, but that is where the similarity ends. It is innovative without any pomp and delicious beyond belief.
A golden moon-shaped chopstick rest cradles silver chopsticks and golden flatware, and you slide the spoon into the creamy white corn soup topped with a generous heaping of perfectly salty-sweet sea urchin from Rebun Island off Hokkaido. Cooked inside its husk over charcoals, each kernel of corn is bursting with deep flavor which is released by pureeing into a soup thickened with a dash of milk and the collagen of hamo pike conger eel. The latter an idea incorporated because of Chef Sato’s desire to limit the use of added butter and oil as much as possible.
A vivid ocean blue Kiyomizu-yaki small plate follows with two meaty pieces of creamy abalone topped with an umami-rich and textured sauce of abalone liver and the meat and innards of the extremely rare domangani crab. After devouring that, you see the chef giving baby tuna flesh a sprinkle of rice flour from an antique wooden box and a dash of water before plunging it into the fryer, resulting in the perfect mix of crispy hot surface and rare pink middle. It is dressed in a complex sauce of Piemonte white balsamic vinegar, eschalot and scallop broth, accented with a vivid green knob of freshly-grated wasabi.
Course after course, the flavors get deeper, but never heavy, and the aromas are sublime. Saba mackerel is suspended above charcoals on eight or nine skewers. The perfect heat level releases the subcutaneous fat which is used to roast and baste the fish, along with a combined oyster and black balsamic sauce for a touch of sweet and a tangy aftertaste. The lovingly tended charcoal-roasted lamb has rested and is ready for slicing, served with a consommé which steeps for hours and hours, turning 70 liters of beef bones and stock into just two liters of precious, mouthwatering consommé.
Chef Sato is devoted to using raw ingredients and fully understanding every item’s source. From butter to bread, he makes everything from scratch. He even receives his rice shipment as genmai unmilled rice, milling it himself to make piping hot bowls of rice and the fine rice flour that crisped the outside of the delicious fried tuna. Seafood comes in from the markets of Tsukiji in Tokyo and Awaji, Hyogo Prefecture, depending on season and availability. Many of the vegetables and proteins come from the Shonai region of Yamagata, a region known for its bountiful harvests from plains and mountains, as well as delectable catches from the Japan Sea. One especially famous ingredient is dadacha-mame, an edamame variety prized for its brilliant green shade and deep, sweet flavor. Possibly showcased on the Jin menu while in season, the revelation that the beautiful beans are the feed for the scrumptious lamb dish shows the incredibly gourmet nature of every ingredient that finds its way to Jin.
Wine lovers will be giddy at the sight of the floor-to-ceiling cellar that takes up approximately half the restaurant space, and a staggering selection of more than 900 bottles. With a strong emphasis on France, and Burgundy in particular, you can enjoy a range of glasses to suit each course or choose a bottle that you love. Many guests opt for a wine pairing the first time, never disappointed by the chef’s ingenious choices. For some sparkle to start the evening, you might enjoy a vintage champagne such as 1990 Alain Robert Champagne, or a Richard Fliniaux Blanc de Blancs with its slight pear sweetness and mineral flavor. From the reasonable and surprising wines of AC Bourgogne Blanc to Grand Cru Puligny-Montrachet chardonnays– the light nature of the cuisine and the depth of choice mean you could happily stay on white wines throughout. Although with a lineup that includes Grand Cru Pinot Noir from Clos Saint Denis or Joseph Drouhin in Chambertin, a glass or even a bottle of red will be virtually irresistible.