EPICURE

The secret delights of Nanpeidai

It may not be easy to find Restaurant Nanpeidai but it will be well worth your while 

 

East meets west, Japanese-style, at Restaurant Nanpeidai

June 2019

Shibuya. This shopping and entertainment district in Tokyo has many attractions worth travelling all the way to the western end of the Ginza metro line for. 

Like the Hachiko statue, for example – that bronze tribute to canine faithfulness. Or the mind-boggling levels of the Tokyu Hands flagship store. 

Even the iconic scramble crossing with its human crush of salarymen and women is worth experiencing at least once.

But for the gourmet, there is now something in Shibuya that makes braving the crowds bearable, and it’s definitely not the budget traveller’s cut-price gyukaku.  

Head out the south exit of Shibuya station and up onto the inclined walkway. Soaring above the human and vehicular chaos, it takes you directly into a tranquil and almost sublime side of Shibuya. 

A 10-minute walk through an upmarket residential neighbourhood later, you finally behold the entrance of a house that looks like it graced the centrespread of House & Garden magazine, Japan edition. 

The front gate slides open automatically to reveal a covered walkway with lush plants and a water feature tinkling down the length of it. 

Walk right up to the front steps and the door opens to welcome you to Restaurant Nanpeidai – part mansion, part private club and wholly fine-dining restaurant. 

If you think finding the place on foot was difficult, you should try scoring a table here.

Like some Japanese restaurants where first-time guests require an introduction by a regular customer in order to make a reservation, Restaurant Nanpeidai is exclusive. But since it opened slightly over a year ago, it is now possible to book online although you won’t find a telephone number anywhere. 

Decadent caviar on ice at Restaurant Nanpeidai

In the small dining area with four tables and a private room that looks out to a garden with a lap pool and a cherry blossom tree, the decor gives an indication of the cuisine – retro-Western.  

Because this is yoshoku, or Japanese-inspired Western cuisine which was born during the Meiji era in the late 19th century when Japan opened its doors to modernisation and European visitors.  

But unlike the croquettes and hamburger steaks that yoshoku is traditionally associated with, Restaurant Nanpeidai’s head chef Nanahiro Takahashi creates French-style fare with Japanese refinement and subtlety. 

The experience starts with a tableside showcase of the typical ingredients for the evening: lobster, caviar and white asparagus from France, with live abalone and lamb from Japan.

They are then magically transformed into delicate dishes that you eat with chopsticks. The style may be light and minimalist but the flavours are novel and exquisite. 

They are even better when paired with the various wines and sakes expertly chosen by the sommelier, who speaks only enough English to tell you what it is you’re drinking. 

The quality of the food and the elegance of the ambience should come as no surprise when one learns that Restaurant Nanpeidai belongs to the same group which includes the pair of three Michelin-starred kaiseki restaurants in Kagurazaka – Ishikawa and Kohaku. 

What is a surprise is finding such quiet elegance in busy Shibuya. 

Restaurant Nanpeidai

6-7, Nanpeidai-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

https://nanpeidai.jp

To book, either make a reservation through your hotel concierge or go to https://www.omakase-japan.jp/stores/90024

Enter the magical world of Restaurant Nanpeidai

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