Den in Tokyo has been announced as this year’s One To Watch, sponsored by Miele. Den’s chef-owner, Zaiyu Hasegawa, will be presented with the accolade at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards on June 13 at Cipriani Wall Street in Manhattan – the first time the event has taken place in New York in its 14-year history.
Den made its first appearance on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list in February this year at No.37 and currently holds one Michelin star. Tokyo-born Hasegawa, 38, began his cooking career at a ryōtei; a traditional high-end Japanese restaurant in Kagurzaka where his mother worked as a Geisha. After years of honing his skills, Hasegawa realised his gastronomic vision with the opening of Den in 2007.
Family has continued to influence Hasegawa’s cooking, with his mother introducing him to intricate flavours and fine ryōtei foods such as sushi from a young age. His sister, now an organic farmer, regularly supplies the restaurant with fresh produce.
Den moves away from casual izakaya and high-end ryōtei dining, offering up modern kaiseki, a style of Japanese meal involving a series of small, intricate dishes. Hasegawa’s ingenuity and intent to make his diners smile is paramount. His playful presentation is supported by his superb technical skills and unique approach to flavours.
International influences can be felt through light touches on traditional Japanese cuisine in Hasegawa’s eight-course menu. The offering changes with the seasons but what’s consistent is the creativity behind it and the quality within it. Diners can enjoy the signature garden salad composed of 20 vegetables reaped daily or chicken wings presented in a fast-food takeaway box.
The One To Watch Award is presented to a restaurant that The World’s 50 Best Restaurants believes has the potential to rise up the list in the coming years. The organisation champions the development of global gastronomy, discovering new trends and talent, and the One To Watch Award is the embodiment of this ethos. This year, for the first time, the One To Watch is being announced ahead of the awards event itself, in order to highlight this celebration of emerging global talent.
Zaiyu Hasegawa, owner of Den, said upon news of this award: “Words cannot express our gratitude. The Den team includes everyone from our farmers and vendors to the kitchen staff and service team and our various supporters. Last but not least, Den wouldn’t be what it is without our customers, who we hope return home not only with memories of delicious food but also of the wonderful time they’ve had. This One To Watch Award belongs to every team member at Den. Thank you all very much.”
William Drew, Group Editor of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, said: “We are delighted to present this prestigious award, along with our new partner Miele, to Den. Zaiyu Hasegawa and his team surprise and delight their diners with delicious and entertaining takes on Japanese food. We believe that, with its combination of talent, imagination and engaging service, Den has the potential to climb into The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list itself.”
“We are thrilled to honour Den with this year’s One To Watch Award,” said Nick Ord, President of Miele US. “At Miele, we are committed to providing our consumers with top notch quality and innovation, which is exactly what Chef Zaiyu’s food represents. We congratulate Den on this well-deserved award and look forward to seeing what culinary adventures Chef Zaiyu will take us on in the future.”