Traditional cuisine intersects with a distinctive modern sensibility at Sorano-niwa. Newly opened on one of Ebisu’s quieter back streets, this is an almost textbook example of how some of Japan’s most representative foods are being updated and repackaged for the new millennium.
The design motifs are all 21st-century wabi-sabi. A sturdy wooden door slides open to reveal bare concrete and exposed lighting ducts. The walls have been given the packed-mud, raked-sand look, but the zasshiki seating areas are floored with luminous green plastic, not tatami. The waiters wear jackets of slub cotton and the restroom floor is a pebble-strewn rock garden. But the airwaves are filled not with the plaintive twang of koto but contemporary R&B.