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In The footsteps of Samurai

TWO HERITAGE COMPANIES BRINGING JAPANESE HIGH CUISINE TO THE WORLD

Diners at Japanese restaurant Nadaman Sazanka-so in the Hotel New Otani, Tokyo can travel back to the age of the samurai. The restaurant lies in the center of a 400-year-old traditional garden once owned by samurai lords and surrounded by the outer moat of Edo Castle. The hotel is equally prestigious—since opening in 1964, it’s hosted Japan’s imperial family and a steady pageant of dignitaries from around the world.

The Nadaman restaurant itself has its own storied pedigree. In 1830, Mansuke Nadaya founded Nadaman’s parent restaurant in Osaka. At the time, the port city was a thriving trade hub and rice was a major commodity, hence Osaka was often called “the Kitchen of the Nation.” Nadaya’s venture expanded into more venues and, in 1974, Nadaman Sazanka-so became the group’s luxurious head branch.


Guests enter the 10-acre garden featuring a bamboo forest, a six-meter waterfall, ancient stone lanterns, and crimson bridges arched over a pond containing circling koi. The sense of theater continues inside Nadaman Sazanka-so. The restaurant’s kaiseki (multi-course meal) menus unfurl a bounty of premium seasonal ingredients artfully prepared and plated like miniature landscape paintings.


The refined sukiya décor is a 400-year-old Japanese architectural form that was originally used for teahouses and emphasizes natural materials such as timber and tatami mats. The interiors harmonize with the kaiseki concept (which can be traced back historically to meals served with Buddhist tea ceremonies).

In the spirit of its pioneering founder, Nadaman restaurants honor classic Japanese cuisine while absorbing new influences from its chefs with foreign experience. When Japan opened up to the West during the Meiji period (1868-1912), Nadaya was also running grocery stores selling bread—a new food for Japanese people.


In 2014, the Nadaman company was acquired by the Asahi Group. Today, Nadaman encompasses 46 food shops and 27 restaurants in Japan, and an increasing global presence via five overseas restaurants (in China, Hong Kong, and Malaysia).


The Hotel New Otani has always catered to its international clientele. It was built on request from the Japanese government to welcome foreigners during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Today, it's a tribute to early Mod-modernist architecture that’s also been remodeled and renovated numerous times over the years.

Two businesses born 134 years apart are now intimately bound by a shared philosophy. To quote Nadaman’s company motto: “A long-established store is always new.”


When dining at Nadaman Sazanka-so, let them know you saw this article in MK Escape and receive one free drink with your meal. Address: Hotel New Otani (Japanese Garden), 4-1 Kioi-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo


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