Japan is known for its unique food and along with this, its thriving restaurant industry. Behind every restaurant is a Japanese chef who prepares and cooks the food together with his staff to be served to customers.
Japan boasts of many renowned chefs expert in creating authentic food. Most of them own restaurants some of which have already gained Michelin stars.
A kaiseki master, Chef Yoshihiro Murata manages three restaurants all of which were awarded Michelin stars. His Kikunoi restaurants have existed long before the Japanese Michelin guides were even published. They are all traditional Japanese restaurants or third generation ryotei.
Apart from managining his dining spots, Murata also keeps himself busy managing the international organization he created called the Japan Culinary Academy. The academy is involved in educational outreach and cross-cultural programs that enables accommodates world-class chefs who want to learn about Japan’s culinary tradition.
This master in Japanese barbecue or yakiniku owns Sumibiyakiniku Nakahara, one of the best restaurants found in the capital Tokyo. Kentaro Nakahara is known as a self-taught butcher and beef connoisseur and has been featured in various publications including The Japan Times.
Nakahara is very particular about the beef or wagyu he uses in his restaurant. He deals with wholesalers and meticulously checks the provenance, bloodline and flavor of the beef. In fact, he also has a license to serve raw beef particularly the prime tenderloin. His two famous signature dishes are the maboroshi gyutan (wagyu tongue) and hire-katsu (breaded cutlet of lean tenderloin).
When it comes to sushi, Takaaki Sugita is the master. He, too, owns a popular restaurant in Tokyo specializing in sushi and tsunami and has 1 Michelin star to his credit. What makes his food unique is the fact the he uses fish and seafood that were treated and aged to produce their authentic flavors and textures.
Sugita’s restaurant called Nihonbashi Kakigaracho Sugita is famous for being a dining that’s difficult to reserve. It has always been his desire to become a sushi chef since high school. He trained for 12 long years at Miyakozushi and then decided to open his own restaurant.
Yakitori or grilled chicken skewer is the specialty of Chef Yoshiteru Ikegawa. The owner of a Michelin starred restaurant called Torishiki, he is well known for using the traditional charcoal in grilling his yakitori. Although many people would say that cooking this kind of food looks simple as it only involves grilling, the actual process needs to take into account the flame’s intensity, butchering of the chicken, seasoning and careful cooking of the flesh.
But did you know that Ikegawa first focused on customer service before he pursued his passion for cooking? He first worked as a salary man and learned how to work with people. From there, he trained on grilling chicken for seven years at Toriyoshi, an elegant yakitori bar in Naka-Meguro. By 2007, he opened his own restaurant with a U-shaped bar.
This Japanese chef is an expert in French cuisine and is well known as the second and last Iron Chef French shown on Japanese television. He first appeared on the show in 1994 and continued throughout the nine seasons.
Sakai used to own and head the La Rochelle restaurant, named after a city in France where the chef trained for some time. He also trained under Fujio Shido, a pioneer in French cooking in Japan, for three years. Sakai has appeard in several Iron Chef and MasterChef shows in other countries and is a recipient of the Gendai no Meiko or Contemporary Master Craftsmen awards.