by Vanessa Hung
While retaining a connection to Edo’s past, Mandarin Oriental Tokyo brings contemporary elegance to Nihonbashi with a sense of place, transcending time and bringing ultimate pleasure to guests.
(Chef of Sushi SORA Yuji Imaizumi delicately prepared nigiri sushi for diners. Located on the 38th floor, this exclusive restaurant promises to enchant the audience with chef’s gracious and elegant hand movements that can be observed when he is preparing the sushi. The ingredients used in the restaurant offer the best aspects of the changing seasons.)
(the floor-to-ceiling window of the 38th floor offers breathtaking views of dynamic city panorama.)
Japan is a great land of forests and mountains despite being a densely urbanised nation. Nature is an indispensable force in Japanese culture, shaping the abundance of the Japanese way of life. Opened in December 2005, Mandarin Oriental Tokyo echoes to Japanese appreciation for nature and creates a marvellous natural journey. This five- star luxury hotel embraces the principle of “Sense of Place”, and has been envisioned as a large living tree, offering shelter, comfort and a place of assembly to community. When you are inside the hotel, you’ll notice that the Japanese aesthetic values are expressed using the spiritual elements of beauty in the fabrics and furnishings throughout, such as wallpaper, upholstery, drapery and cushion covers.
The adventure through nature begins at the entrance. When walking through the hotel’s entrance, rock-clinging and falling sheets of glassy water immediately come to sight, a reminiscence of the waterfalls flowing from the mountains to nourish the tree roots. Moving along, the guest rooms are likened to a forest clearing, allowing leisure-seekers to re- lax in a tranquil ambiance. These natural motifs suffuse the interior of the hotel, radiating the beauty to every guest room. After all, the hotel seeks to create a sensation that guests are standing in the middle of the forest.
This five-star luxury hotel with con- temporary elegance is situated in Nihonbashi, the heart of the city, and is strongly influenced by authentic Edo culture dating back to the 17th century. Blending the best of the past and future architectural grandeur, it is graced with voluminous guest rooms, an oasis-like and award-winning spa, bar and restaurants situated upon the topmost floors of the Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower.
(the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo is a luxury establishment located in the Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower)
(a splendid view of the hotel adorned with pink Sakura)
Ten of the twelve inimitable restaurants are located on the 38th floor, including three Michelin starred restaurants that are tremendously versatile for any occasion. If you are a fan of innovative gastronomy, the Tapas Molecular Bar provides an immersive and unique molecular experience for diners. Bite-sized delicacies and innovative dishes will be prepared right in front of diners, offering a one-of-a-kind multi-sensory dining experience. Or if you are a devout pizza zealot, the wood fired pizza from the Pizza Bar is a great alternative.
Every restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo is definitely a must-go; nevertheless, Sushi SORA is unmissable.
“SORA” means sky in Japanese. As its name suggests, this acclaimed sushi bar, featuring an eight-seat dining counter, is set out to surprise diners not only with its food but also with its breathtaking views of the Tokyo Skytree tower and stunning city panorama. With over 20 years of re- fined experiences, Master Chef Yuji Imaizumi deftly transforms the most simple nigiri or makimon-rolled sushi into a culinary wonder. Being a true master of Tokyo’s authentic Edomae style of sushi cuisine, Chef Imaizumi deems that freshness is essential above all in Japanese cuisine. He heads to the Tsukiji market regularly to hand pick the fish and feel its texture with bare hands, and will then adjust the menu according to the changing seasons. Seeking to bring his audience to a world of culinary art, Chef Imaizumi unveils his gracious and skilful hand movements right in front of the diners when preparing sushi.
The menu at Sushi SORA embraces the quintessentially Japanese culinary of the seasonal. Honouring the long-held traditions, Chef Imaizumi’s dishes offer a rare glimpse to diners into the uniquely chic spirit of old Edo. Selecting the freshest fish from trusted sources, Chef Imaizumi curates the menu based upon the time of year, usually around thirty fish per day in summer, and closer to forty during winter. To provide an all-embracing and exceptional experience, the sake sommeliers are more than willing to give sushi and sake pairing advice to diners.
(the hotel seeks to create a sense of space and openness where guests can envision themselves being in the woods)
(the resplendent lobby of the 38th floor)
(Sushi SORA combines age-old tradition with a modern outlook of the stunning views of the Tokyo Skytree tower and city panorama)
As explained by Chef Sommelier Fumihiko Kamo, sake is an integral part of Japanese cuisine and it bears an essential role in building relationships between drinkers. “We pour sake to each other. We hand sake carafe that is called “Katakuchi” or “Tokkuri”, and pour the sake into small cup (“Ochoko”). By doing so, we show consideration for each other and deepen the sense of solidarity.” Echoing to Chef Imaizumi, Kamo couldn’t stress enough on the importance of “Sense of the season”. Sake is capable of bringing out the umami of the fish.
For instance, in summer cool and refreshing type of sake such as “Namazake” should be served with light taste of summer fish. In autumn, Kamon would line up Hiyaoroshi on the menu, which is aged for about 3-6 months, giving it more complex aromas and flavour compared to the young sake. In winter, hot sake should be served with winter fish such as fatty tuna that is full of umami. Kamo went on to introduce two pairings; the delicate flavour of white fish or raw shellfish would go well with Daiginjo (premium sake with rice polish rate of 50%); the fat of the fish with a taste, it will match the mellow Jumaishu (pure rice sake), which is rather lukewarm. Sushi SORA currently has 25 kinds of sake and it also offers a tasting menu that guests can experience three kinds of recommended sake including season- al sake such as Risshun Asa Shibori and Hiyaoroshi or premium sake. Sake Sommelier recommends the best matching sake depending on the food and above all- guest’s preference. Kamo believes that thoughtfulness is the key- it is important to find out each guests’ preferences when it comes to sushi and sake pairing to guarantee an unforgettable gastronomic experience.
Such thoughtfulness and unyielding pursuit of excellence are certainly what make Sushi SORA shine brighter than its counterparts, and establish Mandarin Oriental Tokyo as one of the greatest luxury hotels of the century.
(Chef Imaizumi, a true master of Tokyo’s authentic “Edo-mae” style of traditional sushi cuisine.)
(sushi chef, concentrated, was in preparation of the delectable nigiri sushi)
Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo
2-1-1 Nihonbashi Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
tel. +81 3-3270-8188