After marrying a Japanese and spending nine years in Tokyo, Luca Fantin, the Executive Chef of Il Ristorante Luca Fantin, which is part of Bulgari Ginza Tower, is very much considered a local. The first Italian chef to be awarded a Michelin star in Tokyo, the former sous chef of La Pergola, Rome, uses predominantly Japanese ingredients like the local seafood, vegetables as well as herbs and edible flowers like borage, calendula and rosemary, in his contemporary Italian creations.
In 2014, Fantin was awarded “Best Italian Chef in the World” by Identità Golose, and in 2016 and 2017 he was again awarded Best Italian Restaurant in the World, this time by Gambero Rosso. In 2018, his restaurant debuted on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list at No. 28.
In this story, Fantin shares his favorite Tokyo joints with us.
I do not eat breakfast every day but I did when I was in Hawaii for vacation and I really like having the pancakes from Eggs’n Things. This chain from Hawaii serves delicious pancakes with macadamia nuts and blueberry. I recommend this outlet as it is close to my restaurant and convenient for guests who go shopping in Ginza.
4F, 1-8-19 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Le Pain Quotidien Shibakoen is located beneath the Tokyo tower and surrounded by trees and greeneries, making it a beautiful venue to enjoy breakfast. They serve crisp and airy croissants.
Le Pain Quotidien
3-3-1, Shibakoen, Minato-ku, Tokyo
At Pizza PST (Pizza Studio Tamaki) in the Higashizabu area, the pizzas are made by a Japanese who has never visited Italy. His dough is a perfect blend of Japanese and U.S. flour. Whenever I sink my teeth into the pizza margherita, I feel like I were in Italy.
Pizza Studio Tamaki
1-24-6-105, Higashiazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
When I miss home and want to eat traditional Italian cuisine, I like to go to Il Figo Ingordo in Roppongi. While the pastas here are exceptionally taste, I’d also say that you should not miss the “filetto akaushi”.
Il Figo Ingordo
7-19-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
For affordable tonkatsu (deep-fried breaded pork cutlet), Butagumi at Nishiazabu hits the spot for me every time. They serve different varieties of pork here including Kagoshima black pork, Matsuzaka pork and Iberico pork from Spain – other cuts are also seasonally available.
2-24-9,Nishizabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Toritama Shirokane Honkan at the Shirokane area is an izakaya that serves more than 30 chicken cuts yakitori style. Unusually, they also offer this rare part of a chicken called “chochin” (or lantern), which is the yolk of an unlaid egg before it becomes an egg. It’s a must-try.
Toritama Shirokane Honkan
6-22-19 Shirogane, Minato-ku, Tokyo
I have taken many guests to Otani No Sushi in the Nishiazabu area. Every time I eat the sushi prepared by the sushi master Otani-san, I always learn something new. He serves the marinated fish at different temperatures and these yield different types of amazing textures.
Otani No Sushi
4-11-7, Nishiazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Nihonryori Ryugin recently moved to a large space at the Hibiya area. The chef Seiji Yamamoto serves kaiseki prepared with highly seasonal ingredients cooked with a mix of traditional and modernist techniques. Always try the Chef’s omakase.
7F Tokyo Midtown Hibiya, 1-1-2 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo
Located in a residential estate opposite tonkatsu restaurant, Betagumi, THESE in Nishiazabu is set in a library and it serves freshly made cocktails. Pick a fruit of your choice and they will craft a personalized cocktail for you on the spot.
2-15-12, Nishiazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo