The Hoshinoya Tokyo hotel in Otemachi
Image: Courtesy of Hoshinoya Tokyo
In Tokyo, a restaurant has taken the idea of protecting customers from covid and turned it into a veritable dining experience. Here, diners tuck into a special menu developed with fermented ingredients while nestled under the soft light of a giant traditional lantern, made by an ancestral artisan. It's a highly serious concept... and it doesn't come cheap!
Back in the early days of covid, restaurants and bars were closed. And when they reopened, they often installed protective solutions against covid-19, with ideas like screens or perspex barriers between customers. Some designers started thinking outside the box, proposing greenhouse-like constructions, transparent domes and more. But, what was yesterday a simple means for getting people back in restaurants has now become a new dining experience to be tested at the table.
In one of its Tokyo establishments, the luxury hotel chain Hoshinoya is offering diners the opportunity to enjoy a meal sheltered by a huge dome resembling the famous Japanese paper and bamboo lanterns. The Land of the Rising Sun is often known for its ability to shrewdly mix ancestral traditions with new technologies. In this new experience, the Tokyo restaurant offers more than a passing nod to these lanterns, still handcrafted by Kojima Shoten in Kyoto. This legendary establishment of the former imperial capital opened its doors at the end of the 18th century. It agreed to make the giant lanterns for the restaurant by replacing the paper with vinyl, so that guests can see each other. Each "dome" is 102 meters high and has a diameter of 75 cm. Plus, the restaurant has created a whole ceremony to welcome customers, who enter a 40 sqm room entirely dedicated to the experience.
In addition to enjoying your meal protected by a giant lantern, the menu is also part of the experience. Hoshinoya has concocted a menu based on fermented products prepared using techniques borrowed from French cuisine. And it's a concept that comes at a cost, priced 21,780 yen per person, or about $190.