Chef Mitsuhiro Araki is the only sushi master in history to have won three Michelin stars for his eponymous establishments in both Tokyo and London. In December 2019, the itamae (sushi chef) opened his latest outlet in Hong Kong, bringing his revered omakase – chef’s choice – experience to House 1881 in Tsim Sha Tsui. Here, guests have a rare chance to interact with the sushi specialist at the intimate 12-counter restaurant – but don’t expect a masterclass: ‘The last thing I want to do is to tutor my customers like some “sushi expert”,’ says Araki. ‘The most important thing is to ditch preconceptions and embrace customers’ preferences. It is meaningless to show them how much I know about Edomae sushi if they don’t find my sushi tasty: the sushi world is as simple as that.’ Here, Chef Araki shares six restaurants around the world that have inspired him on his culinary journey.
Credit: Courtesy of Fook Lam Moon
During his first sojourn in Hong Kong in 2011, Araki paid a visit to Fook Lam Moon. ‘They excel in all sorts of cooking skills: steaming, stewing, braising – you name it. I was amazed by the variety and quality of local ingredients in Hong Kong – mantis shrimp, garoupa fish, clam and cuttlefish.’ It inspired the chef in his own cooking. ‘A significant proportion of ingredients used in my Hong Kong restaurant are sourced directly from local fishermen to create Edomae sushi,’ he says.
Credit: Courtesy of Enoteca Pinchiorri
Enoteca Pinchiorri is the only three Michelin-starred restaurant in Florence – and a place Araki had three exceptional gourmet experiences. ‘I was truly immersed in the authentic tastes of Italy. Although they serve mainly pasta dishes, the menu is full of surprises,’ he recalls of the restaurant, which occupies a Renaissance-era palazzo. Chef Araki repaid the favour: Enoteca Pinchiorri’s executive chef Annie Féolde and her husband Giorgio Pinchiorri are frequent diners at The Araki in Ginza, Tokyo.
Credit: Courtesy of L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Joël Robuchon made a legend out of ordinary mashed potatoes. Of the French master chef’s haute cuisine kingdom, Araki favours the Etoile outlet near the Arc de Triomphe. ‘I asked Robuchon for advice on my overseas expansion when I was running The Araki Ginza. He told me to look to London, New York or Hong Kong,’ he recalls. ‘I chose London first because my daughter was studying there. Hong Kong is my next stop.’
Credit: Courtesy of Nobu Restaurants
Hailed as the ‘god of washoku’ – traditional Japanese cuisine – Nobu Matsuhisa is credited with introducing the US to Japanese cuisine in the 1980s, first in Los Angeles before launching Nobu in New York with Robert De Niro in 1994. ‘Of all Japanese chefs who run restaurants away from home, chef Matsuhisa inspires me with his unprecedented prominence and presence on the international scene,’ says Araki. ‘He is like my mentor’.
Credit: Courtesy of Per Se, New York
Thomas Keller ’s contemporary American-French fusion joint offers two nine-course menus each day – a chef’s tasting menu and a vegetarian menu, with no single ingredient repeated at any point within the meal. ‘The dining experience is stunning, with excellent service too,’ says Araki.
Credit: Courtesy of Sushi Kiyota
Revered as the Mecca for sushi aficionados, Sushi Kiyota was the restaurant where Araki honed his skills under legendary second-generation owner Niitsu Takeaki, before launching his own restaurant. The rich variety of tuna sushi dishes served at The Araki is a nod to Sushi Kiyota’s famous tuna, in all its fatty goodness.
6 Chome-3-15 Ginza, Tokyo; +81 3-3572-4854