Den is one of those fun places in Japan that you really don’t want to miss. Spanish Hipster, who by the way has a great blog, urged us to go and he was right. Den is a laid back, fun restaurant where creativity seeps into every dish. Den is a reinterpretation of Japanese classics mixing new and tradition.
As most restaurants in Japan, for us foreigners, they seem to be hidden away. Den is located down a narrow alley with an entrance full of cookbooks, mostly presents from clients, which make your waiting for the table rather enjoyable as you catch up on some browsing. The restaurant itself is rather small like most restaurants in Japan and the decoration is sparse where white and a light wooden shade dominate the space. As in most Japanese restaurants, it is most common to sit at the counter as you watch chef, Zaiyu Hasegawa, and his sous chefs in action. Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa has a playful, funny side which is reflected in his dishes. Not to say that even though he hardly speaks any English, you are constantly cracking up. His staff help a lot as many speak perfect English and are able to explain the dishes and the history behind each one.
We started off with Monaka which is traditionally a Japanese dessert, but they wanted to add a twist and serve it as an entree. The waffle is filled with foie. Right from the beginning you know that this is all about having fun and goofing around.
Morning dew collected by the team. Nooo, it is actually tomate vinegar which you then add to the second dish which is under the lotus leaf which has my beloved passion fruit.
Since they ran out of food they quickly solved the problem by calling out for some KFC.
Instead of KFC, we got the much better version of DFC (Dentucky Fried Chicken). These chicken wings are stuffed! How do you stuff chicken wings so that you don’t even realize that they are stuffed? How long does it take and who do you get to perform such surgery? This painstaking ordeals can only be done to perfection in Japan. Inside the box you will find either a plastic chicken which you can take home and who is actually perched on our bookcase now as I write this post. Or you get your country’s flag. They take the time to know where you come from and insert the flag into your meal making for great conversation and letting you feel at home at the same time.
Amongst the sage, rosemary and thyme is the marvelous chicken wing. They also explained to us that the reason behind this dish is because apparently KFC is a favorite in Japan and a lot of families like to have it on Sundays.
Then came the fish which had been marginated for five days with natural wasabi grated on top.
Veal with a smoked flavor. Delicious.
The next dish is a salad. At Den they serve it as a main dish instead of a side because Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa wants customers to pay special attention to the actual vegetables. Apparently in Japan, vegetables are always added to a dish but they don’t tend to be a dish on their own. At Den they want you to take the time to realize that vegetables are delicious on their own. Can you spot the fun side to this dish?
Yes, the fun side is edible.
To finish off, rice with my beloved fish eggs and I believe tiny eel.
This dessert made with cheese mousse and tea is freshly dug up from their garden. Original and delicious and got us wanting to do some gardening in Japan.
To finish off, Starbucks coffee?? Noooo, StarComebacks, with truffle, caramel and milk.
Fun and surprises are guaranteed at this 1 michelin star restaurant. Congratulations to all the team for making us foreigners feel such at home.
Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa
Jimbocho, Kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo