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When chef Tsutomu Nakajima, originally from Hyogo Prefecture, decided to strike out on his own more than a decade ago, he was aiming for Kyoto. It would have been a natural fit: He apprenticed in Arima, a famous hot-spring resort town nestled in the mountains of Hyogo, learning the craft of creating elaborate multi-course meals (kaiseki ryōri), and his aim was to open up in Kyoto, the kaiseki capital.

He ended up instead at a halfway point: Osaka. Before I learned Nakajima was from Hyogo, I had pegged him as a local boy. He’s warm, self-deprecating and astute, characteristics usually associated with Osakans, and which make for a hospitable host.

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