At the swanky Bulgari Ginza Bar in Tokyo’s Ginza district, beverage director Yasuhiro Kawakubo walks me through the spread of delicacies on the table. There’s meticulously scored raw aori-ika (squid), a risotto flavored with squid ink and lemon zest, and a pile of puntarelle lightly dressed in a lemony vinaigrette. Completing the assemblage is a cocktail redolent of jasmine and sudachi citrus prepared by Shinya Koba, of Kumamoto’s Yakoboku.
“First, eat the aori-ika and have a bite of the risotto,” Kawakubo says. “Then, take a sip of the cocktail and finish with some of the puntarelle.”