The triple towers of the Park Hyatt Tokyo command the Shinjuku skyline. From the top floor of the tallest tower, the glamorous New York Grill offers vast views of twinkling city lights. Inside, juicy steaks and fine cocktails with a side of live jazz are the norm. Since 1998, however, the menus here and at the PHT’s other celebrated kitchens and bars have been getting the occasional shake-up with an ongoing program of international guest chefs recreating meals from their own world-famous restaurants.
Earlier this year, the Park Hyatt Tokyo hosted cocktail master Jim Meehan of New York’s Please Don’t Tell behind the bar at the hotel’s New York Bar and chef Eric Trochonof Paris’ Semilla at French restaurant Girandole. Editions in past years have seen luminaries such as Thierry Marx, and Forbes Travel Guide Tastemakers Daniel Boulud and Tom Colicchio as they brought some of the globe’s top dining experiences to Tokyo.
From July 9 to 13, Andrew Zimmerman, executive chef of Chicago’s retro-stylish Sepia, will do the same thing, taking over the New York Grill’s dynamic open kitchen with his acclaimed take on contemporary American cuisine. We got in a few questions with the famed chef as he prepared for his five-night residence in Tokyo.
You’re well known as a proponent of local farmers. Will you be showcasing food produced locally in Chicago or exploring the locally available products in Tokyo?
Seasonality and a commitment to local product is an aesthetic that travels better than perhaps the product itself. With that in mind, we are going to build the menu around products that are at the peak of their season in and around Tokyo rather than import product from Chicago.
What ingredients do you enjoy or look forward to using in Japan that are not as common in the States?
I would say probably more than anything, the seafood. We created one dish that is designed to be adaptable to the awesome variety we find at the Tsukiji [fish] market. Coming from the American Midwest, Japan’s seafood is going to be thrilling.
How will the food served at the Park Hyatt Tokyo be different from what’s served at Sepia?
The essence of the food will be the same. We are going to be doing some variations on dishes we have had success with at Sepia, but with Japanese produce and keeping the Japanese palate in mind. Culinary technique and ideas can travel, but the variables of location, product and the sequence of dishes we have put together will create an experience that is an entirely unique version of dinner at Sepia.
Diners can expect to enjoy chef Zimmerman’s Mediterranean twist on American classics, including Sepia favorites such as white corn agnolotti, Australian winter truffle, Parmigiano-Reggiano with truffle au jus or leek-wrapped black sole, assorted sea creatures, white beans and herb jus. In addition to the five-course dinner, there will be a limited Sepia lunch menu as well.
Photos courtesy of Sepia and Park Hyatt Tokyo