Word spread fast and Ubuka soon became a favorite of chefs and others in the know. They appreciate the unpretentious setting and Kato’s unaffected style. They like that he stays open a bit later than most other restaurants. And — most of all — they love that he offers sophisticated meals made with premium ingredients at prices that rival anywhere else in the city. Kato’s career has taken him from Sendai, his hometown in Miyagi Prefecture, to Kyoto, where he undertook a tough apprenticeship in kyō-ryōri, the traditional cuisine of the ancient capital. He then went to New Zealand where he worked several years at a Japanese restaurant, but it was his next stop, manning the woks at the tiny but highly regarded Chinese Tapas Renge at its old Shinjuku location (now moved to Ginza), which first brought him to the attention of Tokyo gourmets. All these experiences are reflected in the 38-year-old chef’s cooking. But at Ubuku, he shows the influence of his very first job at the Sendai branch of the national crab restaurant chain Kani Doraku.