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Sincere

Review excerpt: After a year in the wilderness chef Shinsuke Ishii is back in action, and it has been a long and frustrating wait for him. At the beginning of 2015, he was in charge of the kitchen at one of Tokyo’s most popular — and hardest to book — French restaurants, the brilliant little Bacar. But following its sudden closure in March 2015 (due to its owner’s ill health), Ishii was in limbo. Now he has Sincere — a restaurant and a kitchen to call his own. And what a great location he has found.

Looking out on a quiet basement-level patio, the dining room is spacious and comfortable, especially if you’re sitting at the plush banquette running the length of the back wall. The tables are all oriented so that as you eat, you look toward the substantial open kitchen, where Ishii puts on quite a show.

He has so much more space than before — but, then again, he needs it. Instead of running things virtually single handed, he now has a team working under him. Most notably, he has a talented dessert chef, Keisuke Oyama, who previously worked at Hidemi Sugino. That has left him able to focus on the other areas of the menu.

One reason for Bacar’s enduring popularity — it became known as the restaurant you could never reserve because regulars gobbled up all the seats — was Ishii’s exceptional cooking. The other was that it was superb value for money. Here he continues that laudable policy, although with no a la carte options. The menu features 10 separate dishes, from the opening amuse-bouche to the final petit fours with your coffee, and it still comes in under ¥10,000.