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2 weeks agoupdated Feb 08, 2024

Héritage by Kei Kobayashi Opens at The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo

Restaurant of the Week: Kobayashi's latest opening is on the 45th floor of the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo.

By Kim Ayling

Tokyo’s food scene is a multi-faceted one, with authentic local izakaya joints comfortably rubbing shoulders with big-hitting Michelin-starred restaurants. Evidently hoping to join the ranks of the latter group is Héritage by Kei Kobayashi at the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo.

Opened at the end of January, Héritage by Kei Kobayashi takes the place of what was formerly Azure 45 and sits proudly on the hotel’s 45th floor with commanding city views.

While Paris is now chef Kobayashi’s adopted home, he returns to Japan to share the elevated, modern flavors of France in his newest restaurant concept.

[See also: Mauro Colagreco Opens Cycle in Tokyo]

Chef

kei kobayashi and murashima
Chefs Kobayashi and Murashima / ©Ritz-Carlton Tokyo

Japan-born, Paris-based Kei Kobayashi is heralded as one of the finest Japanese chefs in the world right now. Kobayashi began his career at Tokyu Harvest Club Tateshina in his hometown of Nagano before he moved to France aged 21.

Here, he worked under Gilles Goujon as well as the formidable Alain Ducasse Hotel Plaza Athenee’s three-Michelin-starred signature restaurant. In 2011, armed with a bounty of knowledge on both French and Japanese cuisine, he took over Gerard Besson’s celebrated restaurant, renaming it Restaurant Kei. In 2012, Kei was awarded one Michelin star; in 2017 it got two. Finally, in 2020, Kobayashi hit the jackpot: three Michelin stars. The accolade made him the first Asian chef in France to achieve this.

Working with Kobayashi is chef Murashima, who has also fused the traditional cuisine of his native Japan with European techniques and ingredients. His CV includes chef de cuisine at two-Michelin-starred Esquisse and chef de cuisine at Argile, where he earned its first Michelin star.

Assuming the helm of Héritage’s dessert division is distinguished pastry chef Mayumi Kobori, who brings with her a wealth of experience from the likes of Laurent Duchêne in Paris, Maison Lamloise and La Dame de Pic.

[See also: Wolfgang Puck and Elliott Grover Unite for Oscars 2024 Menu]

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Menu

heritage by kobayashi
Pigeon with liver / ©Ritz-Carlton Tokyo

As has become chef Kobayashi’s signature, Héritage by Kei Kobayashi aims to test, intrigue and delight rather than just feed his guests. The menu is rooted in French traditions – hence the name ‘Heritage’ – but is careful to cater to modern palettes and expectations. 

The roast pigeon with liver, for example, is rich as you like, but has been crafted to use every part of the animal (bones and all) to minimize kitchen waste. And, while French dishes are typically rich and hearty, Kobayashi tones this down, instead creating clean, precise plates, where ingredients are the starring role, rather than the sauce poured on top of them.

Kobayashi’s tasting menu guides guests not just through flavor, but also a multitude of textures, scents and sounds to create a wholly immersive culinary experience, awash with theatrical serving and beautiful, artistic placing.

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

Interiors

private dining room at Héritage by Kei Kobayashi
The private dining room / ©Ritz-Carlton Tokyo

Kobayashi has had a heavy hand in re-imagining the restaurant and has carefully overseen the space’s design. Formal yet inviting, the restaurant is richly decorated with a deep brown base color accented by flashes of blue. Fresh florals also form a key element of the restaurant’s identity, with over-the-top blue and purple displays taking center stage.

Each table is subtly angled to face out toward the nearly floor-to-ceiling windows that look over Tokyo’s energetic cityscape – try to bag a seat right by the window for an uninterrupted view.

An eight-seat private dining room is available for hire too; the space is formal and richly outfitted in blues, gold and gray but the highlight is the enormous windows framing those skyline views beyond.

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

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