Gentle Reader, it is with deep regret that we advise that master chef Masahito Ueki is soon (actually, today!) to leave Restaurant J for destinations as yet unknown. It seems that there is some considerable difference between Chef and his business partner in terms of direction and policy for Restaurant J going forward.
What an pity! While Your Humble Correspondent does not pretend to understand the gritty details of foul commerce, it is obvious even to him that some level of profit is essential to good financial health. At the same time, stand-out quality in a city that boasts a galaxy of Michelin stars is a must-have and Chef is within his rights to demand a free hand in the kitchen.
This outcome is sad for all of us who are fans of Ueki-san, although his commitment to delighting diners - and to opening again soon in a new venue - leave us with the hope that he will rise pheonix-like from the ashes of a spoiled relationship to even greater heights. Chef is a singular talent; and if greatness comes at least partially from passion and unwillingness to compromise in matters culinary, then we have a treat on our hands once he finds new digs.
One faint (feint?) glimmer of light from all of this is that spills and tumbles are always signs of an active and energetic gastronomic culture, and the rejection of "gaman" in favor of integrity augurs well for a bright future for diners in our fair city by the bay.
Your Humble Correspondent will no doubt wend his weary way to "The J" to document the fall of a good restaurant, and will race to put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard?) as soon as possible [although not this evening as I am off to Bistro Aida!].
Until then, then ...
Umami Burger, Kita Aoyama UMAMI BURGER 青山店
2 weeks ago