Japan's Ultimate Dining Experience

  • Kunio Tokuoka
  • Text by Nobuko Sugimoto
  • Photographs by Kenji Miura
  • Translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter
  • Foreword by Thomas Keller

Size: 289×228 mm, 1440 g
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 192
160 color pages, food notes, 250 photos, glossary, index
ISBN10: 4-7700-3122-X
ISBN13: 978-4-7700-3122-8
Release date: Nov. 1, 2010

List price: $45.00

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Kitcho has long been heralded by many as Japan's premier dining establishment. The restaurant is "exclusive, refined, and exotic, almost something dreamed rather than lived," wrote Jonathan Hayes in The New York Times. Indeed, under chef Kunio To-kuoka's watchful eye, it has reached new heights for its superb food, atmosphere, and presentation. Tokuoka stands at the top of his profession. Yet his approach to cooking is remarkably simple. How can he draw out the best flavors for a hearty stock? How can he cook a fish so that it becomes a transformative experience for even the most jaded diner? Simply by finding the optimum way to prepare and cook each ingredient so as to ex-tract its peak flavor. While his techniques have a dazzling clarity and focus, he works in one of the world's most complex—and rewarding—food traditions. Kaiseki, Japan's exquisite haute cui-sine, has its origins in the sixteenth century as an accompaniment to the tea ceremony. Over time, tea kaiseki evolved into a highly formalized artistic cuisine that celebrated the seasons by using only fresh, natural, local ingredients. Yet, by many standards, the fare, while delicious, remained austere. When Tokuoka's grandfather opened his first modest restaurant in 1930, he began combining the refined traditions of the tea ceremony with other Japanese classical elements to create a vibrant, contemporary cuisine that ushered the experience from the exclusivity of the teahouses to the restaurants of the nation. As did his grandfather and father before him, Kunio Tokuoka has maintained the highest standards while expanding the cuisine's reach. Kitcho: Japan's Ultimate Din-ing Experience reveals every facet of kaiseki, covering the intricacies of entertaining, food arrangement, and Japanese aesthetics. Through the brilliant photography of Kenji Miura, the concise commentary of Chef Tokuoka, and the pen of food critic No-buko Sugi-moto, Western food lovers have—for the first time—a chance to step behind the closed doors of this superlative restaurant and share what lures loyal patrons back time and time again. OTHER BOOKS OF INTEREST Kaiseki: The Exquisite Cuisine of Kyoto's Kikunoi Restaurant Yoshihiro Murata The Decorative Art of Japanese Food Carving: Elegant Garnishes for All Occasions Hiroshi Nagashima


“Through his innovative approach to cooking, Kunio Tokuoka reinvents the classic dishes of kaiseki without deviating from the extraordinary history and tradition of Japanese cuisine. In this book, he shares the inspiration behind his dishes with refer-ence to the seasons, art, natural history and culture of Japan, and through the exqui-site photographs he gives a glimpse of the beauty and creativity of his extraordinary restaurant.” —HESTON BLUMENTHAL, Chef de Cuisine, The Fat Duck

“In the making of fine wine, one must be attuned to the ever-changing seasons and the sublime mysteries of nature in order to faithfully express the authentic character of the land. Having had the good fortune to dine within the sanctuary of Kitcho on a number of occasions, I bow deeply to the keen eye and masterly hand of Tokuoka-san. My soul aches to return.” —DON WEAVER, Director, Harlan Estate

“Every time I come in contact with beautiful music, art, architecture, artifacts and cuisine, I wonder, 'Why do people go this far?' I can only say that humans exhibit no end to desire. That's human nature.” —RYUICHI SAKAMOTO

“This is Kitcho in a nutshell-exclusive, refined, and exotic, almost something dreamed rather than lived. The chef, Kunio Tokuoka, is one of the country's most famous, his restaurant a magnet for visiting European and American chefs and politicians, as well as, apparently, the occasional maharajah.” —NEW YORK TIMES

“Kitcho in Kyoto is to my mind the quintessential Japanese dining experience.... It is one of the culinary experiences of a lifetime.” —CRAIG CLAIBORNE, food critic


KUNIO TOKUOKA is the executive chef of Kitcho and the grandson of Teiichi Yuki, the creator of the contemporary Japanese haute cuisine known the world over as kaiseki. Kunio has worked in the kitchen at Kitcho for over thirty-five years, starting at the tender age of fifteen. With other top chefs, he has attended several symposiums overseas, including events sponsored by the James Beard foundation and the Umami Information Center. In 2008, he catered the G8 Summit in Hokkaido, Japan. In 2009, under his stewardship, Kitcho earned the coveted three-star rating in the first Mich-elin Guide to the Kyoto-Osaka area. In 2010, he opened "kunio tokuoka," a new restaurant in Singapore's island complex, the Resort World at Sentosa.

NOBUKO SUGIMOTO has written on Japanese food for over twenty years and is the author of eleven books on the subject. She is currently working on a groundbreak-ing book on Korean cuisine.

KENJI MIURA focuses his lens on traditional crafts, food, cherry blossoms, IT products, and engineering projects, among others. He has also shot for various publi-cations, including ANA's in-flight magazine. Miura specializes in digital photography and optimal software techniques, both of which he took up professionally in 1999. He has written a book in Japanese on the subject for professional and semi-professional photographers, and gives lectures in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China. For this book, Miura used the latest Nikon system and the most sophisticated digital techniques. Among the nine books he has photographed is The Decorative Art of Japanese Food Carving. He can be contacted through his website,

JULIET WINTERS CARPENTER studied Japanese literature at the University of Michigan and has lived in Japan since 1975. Her award-winning work as a transla-tor includes fiction, essays, and poetry by modern writers Kobo Abe, Fumiko Enchi, Machi Tawara, and Ryotaro Shiba, as well as books and articles on various aspects of Japanese life and culture. A devotee of traditional Japanese music, she is a licensed teacher of the koto and shamisen. Carpenter lives in Kyoto, where she is professor at Doshisha Women's College.

THOMAS KELLER is a chef, restaurateur, and award-winning cookbook author. His cuisine mirrors his reverence for tradition but also reflects his appreciation for modern cooking techniques. Keller's accolades include consecutive Best Chef awards from the James Beard Foundation and Chef of the Year by the Culinary Institute of America. He is also the only American-born chef to hold multiple three-star ratings by the Michelin Guide.