Forget menus, napkin colors and floor plans. When chef Shinya Otsuchihashi began preparing to open his first hotel restaurant three years ago, he focused on one key element: sociability.

It’s the driving force behind his creation, Upstairz, the signature restaurant at Zentis Osaka, a new boutique hotel (and the city’s first Design Hotel member) that recently opened its doors in the city’s Kita Ward — albeit with a coronavirus-friendly, hygiene-focused edge.

“The dining experience is defined not solely by the cuisine offered and how it’s presented on the plates before you, but rather by the harmony between every element that the guest tastes, sees and feels,” says Otsuchihashi, who is also the chef behind the Michelin-starred restaurant behind Craftale in Nakameguro. “I believed in doing so, we could create a concept that would be lasting — one befitting a hotel that, itself, undoubtedly, has a long future ahead of it and the potential to leave a lasting legacy.”