What makes it special? Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa’s ever-creative take on the elevated cuisine of his homeland is innovative, at times humorous, and always satisfying. But what makes Den so unique among Japanese restaurants – and so popular – is how relaxed and welcoming it feels.
What’s on the plate? While firmly rooted in the framework of kaiseki, Japan’s hyper-seasonal dining tradition, Hasegawa’s menus draw inspiration from all quarters. Expect foie gras in the savoury monaka appetizers, an ant or two in the classic 20-ingredient Den salad, and all kinds of surprises in his now-signature Dentucky Fried Chicken wings.
Service (and sake) with a smile: Returning local regulars and first-time visitors alike are greeted and served with warmth by the front of house team led by Emi Hasegawa, who also keeps diners topped up with eclectic pairings of wine, premium sake, spirits and tea.
The key is (four-legged) teamwork: No visit to Den is complete without being introduced to the restaurant’s loyal mascot, Puchi Jr. The second of Hasegawas’ loyal chihuahuas to bear the Puchi name, this integral member of Team Den often makes appearances at 50 Best awards ceremonies, albeit in virtual form on T-shirts or badges.
No resting on his laurels: Hasegawa’s worldwide travels may have halted in 2020, but the pandemic did not interrupt his domestic projects. Top of that list was Denkushiflori, his new Tokyo restaurant, opened in partnership (as the name suggests) with his longtime friend and angling companion, chef Hiroyasu Kawate of Florilège.