No one knows a village, town or city like a chef. Intimately acquainted with the locals and markets, and invariably impressively informed on the best hidey-holes to drink or party at, chefs are the folks to chat up if your hotel doesn’t have a concierge.
So who better to get the inside scoop from for a series on regional escapes?
In this ELLE Exclusive series from TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, top chefs from around Asia-Pacific reveal how to see the places they’re based in like a local.
This week: Tokyo from the perspective of Yoshihiro Narisawa, owner and chef of Tokyo’s acclaimed Narisawa, consistently voted among the globe’s top 10 restaurants.
What food or drink item would you recommend visitors to Japan try?
I’d recommend that they try our Japanese sake, but look for the Jizake that’s handcrafted and not mass produced as this is usually made with only local water and Japanese rice.
What is your favourite place in Japan that you’d recommend to travellers?
The forest of Meiji Jingu in Shibuya, Tokyo. This is a forest that was created about 90 years ago in honour of the late Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. It was carefully planned so that it would preserve and replenish itself, and be inhabited by many different plants and animals.
Over the years, it has become a rich place and a very special place for the Japanese, who go there to feel its serenity and sacredness.
How are guests dining at Narisawa meant to feel?
The phenomenon that is nature is my source of inspiration, from the light of the sun and the waxing and waning of the moon, to the smell of the forests and the sound of the winds. It is my wish that guests fall under nature’s spell when they eat here; that they aren’t just having a meal but absorbing life itself.
What type of food is your favourite?
I love food that comes from South Italy because of the sun-kissed vegetables and olive oil - so fresh. They look so succulent and the taste of the environment is so distinct and comes out in the ingredients so beautifully.
Narisawa was named No 1 in Japan in TripAdvisor’s 2015 Travellers’ Choice awards, which are based on the reviews and opinions of millions of travellers around the globe.