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Kaiseki Restaurant Earns Toronto’s First Michelin Star

Japanese cuisine with Canadian flavour earns Toronto’s first Michelin star

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“The two distinguishing factors that define [kaiseki] cuisine are seasonality and use of local ingredients.”
—Ryusuke Nakagawa

In 2018, when Ryusuke Nakagawa was cooking for the Emperor of Japan, he dreamed of opening his own kaiseki restaurant. He never imagined it would be in Canada.

Canada was a country with no Michelin system, after all, and for a chef in Kyoto immersed in kaiseki cuisine that was a non-starter. He had no idea at the time, but the Michelin Guide and one visionary restaurateur were about to change his life forever.

In 2018, Seigo Nakamura, the founder of the Aburi restaurant empire in Canada, was looking for an opportunity to show that Japanese cuisine could be more than sushi. Nakagawa, with his rock-star hair and creative Japanese dishes, caught Nakamura’s attention, and he reached out to the young chef.


Top left: A unique dish featuring shari, strawberries, and a sushi rice vinegar sauce. Top right: A Shinogi course made with dry-aged o-toro and caviar paired with various fine ingredients, all atop a mochi rice cracker. Bottom right: Sakura (cherry blossom) leaf crème brûlée and sakura petal gelée. Bottom left: The Yakimono course, made with aged amadai (Japanese tiled fish).

Kyoto was (and still is) a top city for fine dining. It’s there that Nakagawa trained in the Kyoto form of kaiseki (Kyo-Kaiseki). Seeing a brilliant future for the young chef, Nakamura made him an offer.

Order the Magnifissance print edition to read the full story.

This story is from Magnifissance Issue 116

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Inspired for a Beautiful Life

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