Abasque is one of the few restaurants in Tokyo to focus on the food of the Pays Basque in Southwest France. In recent years, the global spotlight has rightfully shone on the brilliant new-wave cuisine of the chefs in Spain’s Basque Country. But the tradition of eating well runs every bit as deep on the French side of the Pyrenees too.
Naoki Wada, Abasque’s young chef, spent more than three years there, not at the big-name restaurants of the coastal resorts but up in the craggy foothills of the hinterland. In the historic town of St. Jean Pied de Port, he learned the recipes, gained a deep appreciation for the superb local ingredients — especially the mildly piquant peppers known as piment d’Espelette — and melded them with the French culinary skills in which he was originally trained.