These Japanese chefs work at some of the most exciting restaurants in the country – including two listed in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2015 – but where do they go to eat and drink when they’re off duty? They take us to their favourite local counter restaurants and noodle bars in Tokyo and Kyoto
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Dining at the tiny counter at Kappo Sakamoto in the Gion district of Kyoto, I glance up at our chef, Ryuta Sakamoto, who’s quietly preparing our next course. Sake in hand, I decide to break with etiquette and ask if he knows a good place to buy a bento box. He pauses, considering the problems my lack of Japanese might create: “We always pre-order our bento boxes from Hishiiwa. They’re very traditional, but always good”.
Later, I discover that Hishiiwa opened in 1830 to supply food to the teahouses in Gion and that by “good”, he means “seriously good”. The Japanese are so understated in their recommendations. Never let their lack of hyperbole put you off.