Samachar Live

What it’s like to eat at Asia’s best restaurant

Tuesday night, 29th March 2022, Den in Tokyo was given top honours by the World’s 50 Best groups, recognizing it as the best restaurant in Asia.

Den is no stranger to accolades. It has two Michelin stars and has been in the top 10 on the World’s Best list in years past. “But it also just happens to be where I ate one of the best meals of my life,” says Lilit Marcus on CNN.

Going to fine dining restaurants can be intimidating, especially to a solo traveller. Some of the big-name restaurants in November 2019 in Tokyo wouldn’t even accept a reservation for a single diner.

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“I put my name on the wait list at Den, though, and a week before the trip got a phone call confirming I’d scored a seat thanks to an odd-numbered party at the table next to me. It was like finding out I was going to a cool kid party or being accepted into my “reach” university.”

“Though I was thrilled to get a reservation, I was also nervous — would the experience be stuffy, formal, and full of ingredient names I’d never heard of? Would I leave the restaurant feeling like I’d just crossed something off of a list, or would I actually enjoy the food? Delightfully, I can say that the answer was the latter.”

Den is high-end food with a silly sense of humour. In the salad, carrots are sliced thinly and cut in the shape of smiley faces. Japanese-style fried chicken arrives in a mock fast food takeout box covered in-jokes and a goofy photo of the chef. One course arrives with each diner’s national flag stuck in it — a quick survey around the small dining room that night displayed tiny American (hi), Chinese, Japanese and Canadian flags, which make for great souvenirs of the meal.

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And that isn’t all.

Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa isn’t the kind of guy who hides out in the kitchen and lets the food do the talking. He’s funny and chatty, with his long-haired chihuahua Puchi often in tow when he pays a visit to the dining room.

Left: Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa with his beloved pup; right, a pillar at Den where customers leave thank-you messages. (Image source: CNN travel)
A serving of “Dentucky Fried Chicken” at Den. (Image source: CNN travel)

“Tokyo is one of the world’s great food cities. During my weeklong trip — my first-ever visit to Japan — just about everything I ate was delicious, from minimart onigiri to late-night ramen to super-expensive sushi prepared in front of me.Now, I can say that one of the most memorable eateries I’ve ever visited has been voted the best restaurant in all of Asia.”

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