- RESTAURANT INTERVIEWS >
Our exclusive interviews with ROCOCO partner restaurants, chefs and sommeliers offer insights into their cuisine and passions in their own words.
A modern sushi restaurant that offers guests the most exclusive anago (conger eel) available in Tokyo
Within the vibrant heart of Shibuya in central Tokyo, lies a serene oasis known as Oku-Shibuya, or “Okushib,” home to a growing number of upscale restaurants, bars and art galleries. Among them stands Ajuuta, a sushi restaurant that quickly gained the acclaim of culinary enthusiasts from Japan and abroad since its opening in April 2021. Years before launching his own restaurant, Chef Hiroki Ajuuta had immersed himself in French cuisine while living in France. It is there that he realized that his true passion was in Japanese cuisine. Returning to Japan, he immediately began an apprenticeship at a high-end Kyoto cuisine (Kyo-ryori) restaurant in Ginza. He further refined his skills at restaurants such as the renowned Sushi Zai in Hiroo. In 2021, he chose to open Ajuuta in Shibuya, an area that is not typically associated with high end sushi restaurants. When we asked him how he chose Shibuya, Chef Ajuuta revealed that Shibuya held special memories from his younger days living alone there. He thus opted to follow his heart and to open Ajuuta in Shibuya. Chef Ajuuta’s profound commitment to following his heart has also led him to establishing his own unique culinary style. Chef Ajuuta confided that his deep-seated desire is “for his customers to experience the best tasting sushi." Although rooted in Japanese culinary tradition, his meticulously crafted courses are enhanced by Chef Ajuuta’s sense of creative freedom. One of his most obvious obsessions is anago (conger eel). Chef Ajuuta sources anago exclusively from Nagasaki and Tsushima from “Ueken”, known among insiders at Toyosu Market as the world's best anago dealer. Chef Ajuuta’s uncompromising stance on quality means that anago is only featured at his restaurant when the highest quality catches are available. Count yourself lucky if this rare treat is served on the day of your visit! Tuna and uni (sea urchin) are two other staples on Ajuuta’s menu, and they are both unsurprisingly also held to impeccably high standards. Ajuuta buys its tuna from Yamayuki, the renowned tuna dealer that is trusted by top-tier restaurants in Japan. Everyday Chef Ajuuta carefully selects 3-4 varieties of the finest tuna, and then shapes his entire menu around them. The ambiance of the restaurant reflects Chef Ajuuta’s attention to detail, and is characterized by elegant black granite and beautiful cypress counters.
“We strive to serve sushi that doesn't tire the palate.”
Chef Ajuuta meticulously plans each course served at Ajuuta, composing a sequence of 17-20 dishes. He seeks to leave guests feeling 80% full by the end of their meal. Years of experience has taught him that this yields the most satisfying feeling for a meal. Notably, Chef Ajuuta refrains from adding sugar to his sushi rice, opting to balance the overall taste using the rice’s natural sweetness. This approach creates a palate-refreshing experience, allowing to savor each bite until the very end. His current technique, perfected through an extensive process of trial and error, starkly differs from the one he employed in his early restaurant days. Another defining characteristic of Chef Ajuuta is his strong emphasis on communicating with his customers, a value instilled by his former mentor. Despite his humility, Chef Ajuuta consistently exudes confidence and positive energy, creating a warm and engaging atmosphere for guests at Ajuuta.
“ROCOCO’s gentle carbonation doesn’t cause a feeling of premature fullness, setting it apart from regular beers”
Ajuuta has its own in-house sommelier, a rare asset for a sushi restaurant. Ajuuta is therefore well known for its thoughtful pairings of sushi with wines, sake, and other beverages. ROCOCO holds a special place among its esteemed beverage list. Chef Ajuuta explains that “ROCOCO’s gentle carbonation doesn’t cause a feeling of premature fullness, setting it apart from regular beers. It is easy on the stomach and complements many dishes we serve. It pairs especially well with grilled dishes such as our grilled unagi (eel) due to its lower fat content. Recently, many overseas customers have been impressed by ROCOCO, which is very different from the typical Japanese beer they know, which contributes to its rising popularity.”
Tempura │ Ginza
Sushi │ Shibuya
Yakitori │ Nogizaka
Modern French │ Higashi-Azabu
Modern French │ Minami Aoyama
Japanese Steakhouse │ Ginza
Modern French │ Toranomon
Wagyu Focused Kaiseki｜Nishiazabu
Sushi │ Ginza
Innovative French Fusion｜Roppongi