Only in Tokyo: Michael Ryan and Luke Burgess excited by the city

Only in Tokyo Ryan & Burgess

Michael Ryan and Luke Burgess, both incredibly talented chefs, use their book Only in Tokyo to tell their personal stories about this fascinating city.

But before delving into this fascinating book we should add our warning which is reflected in Michael’s introduction as well. The warning is that if you go to Tokyo or any part of Japan once you will return again and again. Japan is the ultimate sirens’ call!

Introduction to Only in Tokyo

And now to the introduction where Michael issues his warning about the sheer magnitude of the task faced by intrepid food tourists:

Don’t expect or attempt to get a handle on the entire city, even if you have a number of trips under your belt. Feeling like you will never truly know the place is partly what is so fascinating about it. I guess I’ve been there just under twenty times now, and every visit is different – each one a bit of a ‘choose your own adventure’.

Michael Ryan

Luke also cogitates about the things that draw him back:

If Japan is enigmatic, then Tokyo is the heart of that riddle, its rhythm and essence so utterly alluring that it demands to be explored. It has a depth that keeps travellers in a constant state of rapture and delight. Whatever your vice, Tokyo has it covered.

Luke Burgess

So they set the scene well for what you can anticipate on your visit. Early in the book you will find a story about a small restaurant called Path which serves some of the best croissants and Dutch pancakes (Dutch Baby) on the planet. And this is a recurring theme that Michael and Luke have captured well.

Dining in Tokyo

The theme really is that if you want the best coffee or pizza or croissant or cocktail or sandwich or steak or tea or doughnut, then don’t go to Italy or France or London, head straight for Tokyo instead. And we haven’t even mentioned Japanese food yet.

When we first opened the book we naturally looked for their description of the places we have visited on our visits to Tokyo. We have already mentioned Path where we had a memorable breakfast on our most recent visit – and we tried both the cooked to order croissants and the puffed up Dutch pancake (also cooked to order).

Their comment which resonated with us was “It has a casual neighbourhood vibe with sophistication and confidence”. It helps somewhat that the chefs once worked for the Troisgros restaurant in Shinjuku.

Their description of the farmers market held in front of the United Nations University was also spot on and directed the reader to the roast meat van that has wonderful cuts of just-roasted meat and the fascinating sesame seed stall where you can see the sesame oil being extracted.

Towards the back of the book you will find a page devoted to one of the most “out there” restaurants in Tokyo, namely a place called Bunon. We first came across Bunon a few trips ago. We had been out all afternoon and intended going back to our apartment to look up the exact details of the address as it can be very hard to find places given the non-sequential numbering system used in Japan and the fact that many of the places only have Japanese numbering.

We knew approximately where it was and were walking down the street dejectedly observing that there were only Japanese signs. A woman was walking in front of us and she stopped and opened a door. We looked in and saw a large poster which we recognised immediately as being Michel Tolmer’s Épaulé Jeté advice for natural wine drinkers. We had found Bunon!

It is here that chef and bon vivant Shigeru Nakaminato cooks excellent Japanese food and serves natural wines and delicious sakes. They rightly comment on the energy of the chef and the fact that he is in high demand for appearances around the world so it is good to check whether the restaurant is open.

Kabi Tokyo Chefs Intense Concentration

The book also features a relatively new restaurant called Kabi which has been created by three young entrepreneurs, one of whom (Kentaro) used to work as sommelier at the much lauded NORA in Melbourne. The head chef is Shohei Yasuda who has had stints at the famous La Cime in Osaka and Kadeau in Copenhagen. The dessert chef is Kiriko Nakamura who cooked at Tirpse in Tokyo and also spent time in Paris.

They are a formidable combination and the vibe here reminded us so much of Garagistes with the quiet confidence with which the staff go about their work yet with an absolute determination to produce food and drinks of exceptional quality.

Additional details

You can purchase this book by clicking on the link below. Note that if you do we receive a small payment to help us maintain this Web site.

You can also read our story about Kabi by clicking on the link below.

Our story about Kabi

If you want to book into Kabi then their Web site is here:

Kabi Web site

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