What an eventful 12 months it’s been for Zaiyu Hasegawa and his team at Den. This time last year he had just closed his hugely in-demand restaurant — at the busiest season — and relocated across the city. At the time it seemed like a leap into the unknown, a step sideways rather than ahead. Now it’s starting to look like a stroke of genius.
After nine years at his iconic Jinbocho address, Hasegawa was ready for change. He had moved into the premises as an unknown 29-year-old, soon turning Den into an under-the-radar insiders’ secret — and from there into one of Tokyo’s must-visit addresses for visitors from home and abroad.
But he was beginning to feel the physical limitations of the discreet entrance and narrow corridors, the intimate nine-seat counter and private rooms hidden away upstairs. The new Den, on the northern edge of Jingumae, could hardly be more different.
It is open and spacious, all on one floor and with just one small private chamber. The kitchen is larger, and although it’s open to the dining room, allowing diners to watch Hasegawa and his crew at work, everyone sits at tables rather than at a counter overlooking the chefs’ workspace.