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March 13, 2024

Hakuba Opens at Cheval Blanc Paris

Restaurant of the Week: A new opening from Japanese sushi chef Takuya Watanabe.

By Kim Ayling

Elevating its culinary offerings to a new level of luxury, Cheval Blanc Paris has recently announced the opening of Japanese fine dining restaurant, Hakuba.

Marking the hotel’s fifth dining concept (in addition to three-Michelin-starred Plénitude, Le Tout-Paris and Langosteria), Hakuba is the result of a unique collaboration between Cheval Blanc Paris’s head chef Arnaud Donckele, revered Japanese sushi chef Takuya Watanabe and the hotel’s pastry chef Maxime Frédéric.

[See also: Paris Bar Danico Launches Japan Themed Cocktail Menu]

Intended to be a gastronomic immersion into the rituals and traditions of Japanese cuisine that have so captivated the Western fine dining landscape in recent years, Hakuba offers refined omakase-style cuisine in the heart of Paris.

“We want this table to be a total immersion into Japanese art and craftsmanship,” says Donckele. “On the sushi, temaki, gunkan side… Takuya Watanabe embodies rigor and authenticity. He has full creative freedom for remarkable creations with products such as fish, rice, Iio Jozo brewery vinegar, and seaweed.” 

[See also: Shinji Kanesaka Brings Sushi Restaurant to 45 Park Lane]


Arnaud Donckele,  chef Takuya Watanbe and Maxime Frédéric
Arnaud Donckele, Takuya Watanbe and Maxime Frédéric / ©Caroline Dutrey

Born on the island of Hokkaido and brought up in the town of Niseko, the culture of respecting nature’s bounty was ingrained into Watanabe from a young age. The chef underwent a series of apprenticeships before opening his first-ever restaurant at the young age of 27 in the city of Sapporo, not far from Niseko.

Eventually though, Europe called. In 2012, Watanabe partnered with Nina Niku to open Jin in Paris, which earned one Michelin star. A decade later, he brought his take on elevated omakase-style cooking to London with the opening of Taku, in Mayfair. Like clockwork, its Michelin star arrived just months later.

[See also: The Most Significant Restaurant Openings of 2023]

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Like at Taku and Jin, Hakuba will showcase Watanabe’s heavily chef-led version of omakase – a Japanese dining style that translates “I’ll leave it up to you.” Instead of a rigid menu, omakase restaurants allow chefs to craft dishes on the day based on ingredient availability and guests’ individual preferences. 

At Hakuba, guests can expect the finest ingredients, impeccably presented: caramelized or raw fish, maki, broths, soba, temaki.

While led by Watanabe, Donckele seeks to ‘punctuate’ dishes via his renowned expertise in sauce “I knew straight away that this encounter with Arnaud would be like a creative fusion that would give birth to the most beautiful Japanese culinary postcard, colored by his talent,” says Donckele.

[See also: The Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings of 2024]

cheval blanc paris hotel
Hakuba is located on Paris’s first floor / ©Alexandre Tabaste

By the time the menu crescendos with dessert, Frédéric’s influence is made clear. Designed to be an encounter that fuses the principles of French pastry making with Japanese dessert traditions, the sweets menu promises to intrigue – a selection of mochis is among the highlights.

To accompany the gastronomic adventure, Cheval Blanc wine director Emmanuel Cadieu has compiled a saké-heavy wine pairing.

[See also: Hotel des Grands Voyageurs Welcomes First Guests in Paris]


Located on the hotel’s first floor, Hakuba features three counters around which the chefs smoothly dance, creating a sense of theatre. Two counters can accommodate up to nine guests; the third is more private and can seat six.

The space itself is subtle and minimal with stone, bamboo and black walnut creating a calm yet intimate atmosphere.

A core element of Hakuba’s aesthetic is the tableware. Carefully chosen plates are crafted by artisans from Kyoto and Fukuoka, while the delicate Japanese saké glasses are each different. Together, the table art conveys that dining is about more than just food.

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