When you have a creative guy of the calibre of Takuya Kishi running a boutique luxury hotel you can sure there will be surprises, and they will be nice, says the gal. Since he was without a proper dining venue that week, his invitation was for dinner in 606, the hotel’s 1,800 sq ft Chairman’s Suite. The flowers on the long wood table, presumably normally used for discussions around take-overs and investments in burgeoning Tokyo, tonight presented an ideal photo opportunity of colour (look out of any of the luxury hotels in central Tokyo and have panoramas of shades of pale grey, with blue and buttercup if the sky is clear, and the sun shining).
Kishi-san had it all planned, as if a project was under way. There were assortments of Riedel glass styles, and bottles of wine – we went for Dog Point 2011 Pinot Noir Marlborough. Over an apéritif glass he told me about his life. After graduating in sociology in Columbus OH he really wanted to stay in the US but somehow he got pulled back to Japan, to the Righa Royal in Osaka and then to help de-Four Seasons the other hotel it managed in Tokyo until January 2013 – it is now Hotel Chinzan-so, as named by Prince Aritomo Yamagata back in 1878. And then he was asked to come over here, to run the 57-room hotel that thoughtfully has ten rooms that welcome dogs, with a hair cut included.
What do you have when you can choose what you want, to eat with one companion in a hotel’s top suite? In honour of Kishi-san’s heritage, I started with sashimi, can never get enough of it. Note there is no salmon in the platter. Japanese are really terrified of salmon when it comes to food safety. You can have chicken carpaccio, yes raw chicken, but not raw salmon, and if you ask for salmon cooked rare there is a sharp intake of breath and you are told ah, so sorry, not possible, food safety. We discussed the hotel’s forthcoming restaurant, which will offer a journey, with a living room area, a gastronomic gallery and a gourmet social salon, with a ten-seat private lounge.
Of course it will do well. The combination of chef Hiroshi Nakamichi as consultant, thus wooing Japanese gourmets, and designs by André Fu, known worldwide for his concept for Hong Kong’s The Upper House and so many other luxury hotels, will bring an international following. Talking of which, having started Japanese, I then went international for my main course tonight, yes, a good old-fashioned burger, Four Seasons style, and yes, I could have it fairly rare.