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Quiet on the Set! Action!
Last week a good friend from my days in Tokyo died at an early age from an unexpected heart attack. For someone working on the fringes of the financial community, he had an unusual measure of integrity and humour. He was a collector of languages and held an infectious enthusiasm for everything, whether it was a topic close to his heart or something he had never previously experienced.
As I reminisced, I recalled some of the meals we had together from kaiseki to a modern spin on teppanyaki, but one particular restaurant stands out.
Situated close to the political heart of Tokyo, Restaurant Kurosawa was established in memory of Akira Kurosawa, the Japanese film-making maestro. The food may not be the best in the city, but for fans of the master that is not the reason to visit.
Approaching the entrance, one almost expected to see Toshiro Mifune staring out of the window of the grey, run down building; the pine motif of the brothel by the entrance was similarly an echo to the movie Yojimbo. Inside, staff wear a uniform that is inspired by the film Red Beard. The dining rooms were simply presented but adorned with a selection of storyboard frames painted by Kurosawa in preparation for each movie. When we visited, I recall the rich colours of Ran hanging above my friends’s head.
While the aim was to give the diner a sense of being on a movie set, it seemed to me that we were actually there to pay homage. We admired the movie memorabilia and the posters, and recalled some of our favourite cinematic moments.
As far as the food was concerned, the focus was on the traditional but with a Kurosawa twist. Akira Kurosawa apparently had a dream to open his own restaurant and his gastronomic aim was to provide food prepared with fewer ingredients, but of the highest quality. Apparently, the menu for Restaurant Kurosawa was overseen by his daughter to ensure authenticity.
I may vaguely recall I enjoyed chicken with sesame but I clearly recall an evening of relaxed laughter with a dear departed friend.