2-2-15, Minami Aoyama
The friendly master Shingo Takahashi apprenticed for Sushi Sho chef Keiji Nakazawa before opening his own place behind this discreet sliding bamboo door on a small street near Aoyama Park. It’s omakase only here—and it does not disappoint. From fresh-as-possible cuts of familiar fish to creamy baby shrimp and sweet uni to the intense flavor of in-season horse mackerel and sea eel. There are also offerings you rarely see, like caviar seaweed to start (the seaweed has little bubbles on the outside that pop when you crunch down), raw eggplant (ever so slightly pickled, though you can’t really tell), and so much more. Takahashi kindly requests no snaps inside the small, pale, minimal space so that you can focus and enjoy your meal. Image courtesy of Tabelog.com.
You can buy Prada in lots of places. You still have to come to this store. The six-story structure by Herzog & de Meuron was an instant sensation when it opened in 2003, and it remains a singular architectural achievement. Nestled in the dense Aoyama district, the store immediately surprises with its generous open space around the structure. But it’s the now-famous diamond-shaped glazing, moving from flat to convex across the skin of the building, that immediately catches the eye. Inside, floors and structural forms blend from one into the other and back again. It’s a tour de force, worth a visit even if you leave empty-handed (though with every Prada line on display here, that may be difficult).
2F Minami-Aoyama City House, 5-4-44, Minami-Aoyama
Socrates taught Plato; Plato taught Aristotle. Rei Kawakubo mentored Junya Watanabe, and both mentored Chitose Abe. In 1999, she started her own label, Sacai (a derivation of her maiden name, Sakai). You’d think a store would be quick to follow, but Abe doesn’t follow the same old playbook. She waited twelve years before opening her flagship in Tokyo’s Aoyama neighborhood. The store was a collaboration with rising starchitecht Sosuke Fujimoto, and the results are a perfect complement to Abe’s designs: a space that embraces the contemporary and the classic, bringing both together to create something truly new.
For a plethora of reasons (including but not limited to: language barriers, bookings closed on certain days, and tables reserved months out), it can be hard to get a reservation at a lot of places. Masuda is one of those places. Persevere. (It's best to go through the website.) You'll be rewarded with a few perfect umami-rich bites of fish. The chef is a disciple of Jiro Ono (of Netflix fame) and has two Michelin stars. Keep an eye on the counter for shellfish delicacies like needlefish and akagai, which is a rare red clam. Chef Masuda makes his own soy and excels at the deeply savory broths that are the foundation of so many dishes. Important to note: Add the spring onions that come on the side—these green shoots completely transform the flavor.