Travel 4 minutes 17 June 2024

Lionel Beccat of Two MICHELIN Stars ESqUISSE Shares His Favorite Parts of Tokyo

This project introduces Tokyo through the lens of culinary figures and celebrities connected to the city. Try visiting these recommended cafés, bakeries and design museums, and you might discover an entirely new side of Tokyo. This time, we’ll bring you a selection of Tokyo destinations featuring a vibrant sense of French esprit.

‘I try to experience inspiring art and beauty every day. Rather than just for special occasions, I try to make these encounters part of my day-to-day existence. That way, those experiences become my own flesh and blood, and as time passes, they reveal themselves in my culinary creations.’

Tokyo through Lionel Beccat’s Eyes

‘Tokyo is an active and dynamic city like Paris or New York. Yet at the same time, Tokyo has so many places that give you a chance to slow down, breathe and relax.
Narrow alleyways branching off grand avenues, and small galleries that you come across by chance. Moments that refresh your mind and spirit. That’s the kind of city that Tokyo is to me.’

1. Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience

‘It’s no exaggeration to say that this restaurant opened my eyes to Japanese tea. Everything comes together perfectly—selecting the most appropriate water, adjusting the temperature, choosing the tea utensils, a certain way of speaking, the manners when preparing and serving, and more—all together they create the tea you’ll enjoy here. It’s all so captivatingly beautiful, but you might miss it if you blink. Please give every action your full attention. My friends from overseas are always delighted when I bring them here. We typically come by after hunting for souvenirs at Spiral Market downstairs.’

A tea specialist shop located on the fifth floor of the Aoyama Spiral Building. Just having your favourite Japanese tea is great, but you’ll also definitely want to try the courses featuring various types of Japanese tea and Japanese sweets. At night, you can enjoy original cocktails created based on the concept of placing equal value on tea and alcoholic drinks. You can also enjoy asking for a glass of their seasonal special and exploring each season.

5F, Spiral Bldg, 5-6-23 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku

ⒸSakurai Japanese Tea Experience
ⒸSakurai Japanese Tea Experience

2. Jimbocho

‘I love books. This town treats old books printed decades ago with the greatest of care. If you pick up one of the many texts available here, you can really get a sense of every possible aspect of the times in which it was published—not just the author’s thoughts back then, but the publishing methods, book manufacturing technology, ink usage and paper quality.

In Jimbocho, visitors can enjoy the charm of a place which starkly contrasts with today’s modern digital and information-packed society and feel inspired by the spirit of the shop owners. When I see customers devouring these shelves of books, faded to the point where I wonder who would even read them, it makes me believe there's still hope and beauty left in the world.

Under pressure from digital trends, books are fading into the shadows. But you would never think so from looking around Jimbocho. Surrounded by tall buildings of our modern age, this district bravely fights on alone. Just stroll through the area, and you can sense the presence of these used books that have existed here for decades. And along with books, there are shops offering records and videos. Come here solo and explore these seemingly endless rows of shops to your heart’s content.

Kanda Jimbocho, Chiyoda-ku


3. Comme’N Tokyo

‘Why am I introducing this shop? Simply put, because it’s my favourite bakery in Tokyo. I go shopping here for things to eat at home with my family. Since everything here is absolutely delicious, I just choose from whatever is still available. I like their Danish pastries, too. The pain au chocolat here is my son’s standard breakfast. The campagne is delicious when cut thinly and topped with butter and plenty of jam.’

Located just outside the exit of Kuhonbutsu Station on the Tokyu Oimachi Line. This is a local bakery in the Setagaya area. Look out across the kitchen from inside the stylish interior at the skilled artisans kneading dough, and you’ll realise you can expect great things here. This bakery showcases a diverse range of delights, from French standards like baguettes and noix raisin to familiar Japanese favourites like cream pan and melon pan. Getting recommendations from the staff members and searching for a new favourite are both fun, too.

7-18-5, Okusawa, Setagaya-ku



‘In my experience, French people generally aren’t enamoured with Japanese sweets, but these ohagi are really special. These sweets are sure to delight when offered as a small gift. They’re not only beautiful but also full of delicious flavour. You could say this is truly a Japanese artisanal technique.’

Ephemeral art that lasts a single day. Experience it at the main Takeno to Ohagi store in Setagaya, located a short walk from Sakura-Shinmachi Station, which many people know from the popular comic strip series ‘Sazae-san.’ Along with standards like the tsubu-an and koshi-an varieties of sweet bean paste, there are five varieties of special seasonal ohagi sweets. For example, the Sakura no Machi named for Sakura-shinmachi showcases salted yaezakura, coffee, and raspberry purée. Ingredients rarely seen together with red bean paste co-star in these delectable treats presented in traditional wooden bento boxes. Reservations can also be made online in advance.

3-5-6, Yoga, Setagaya-ku


5. Farmers Market @UNU

‘Tokyoites are changing the way they shop. And markets like this were the first places to embrace that challenge. Displays of individually wrapped, perfectly shaped fruits and vegetables are typical in Tokyo supermarkets. But here, like in a Parisian marché, you can speak directly with the producers and learn how each item was grown and produced. ESqUISSE currently gets ingredients from more than forty producers, and we first met about half of them at this market. The produce here may not all look perfectly uniform, but you’ll understand if you taste it. The difference in taste will really surprise you.’

When the weekend arrives, the square in front of United Nations University facing Aoyama-dori Avenue is packed full of vibrantly coloured tents and tarps. Not just regular customers come here, but people who happen to be passing by also find themselves stopping to explore. Along with agricultural products, the market also features a wide variety of processed goods like coffee beans, jam, miso, and more. It’s just like a treasure hunt. Special events are sometimes held featuring honey, wine, or other items. You’ll want to bring your eco-friendly shopping bag with you for a once-in-a-lifetime experience here.

5-53-70 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku


6. 21_21 Design Sight

‘The curator’s vision for this space involves truly remarkable things. Here, the scope of what constitutes “design” is impressively vast. Some elements can even be strange or fantastical. Personally, this is exactly why I think that this place captures the very essence of art. The display methods and the space itself are creative and original, and you’re sure to be surprised and discover something new here when you visit.’

Neighbouring Nihokicho Park in Roppongi’s Tokyo Midtown, this space serves as a base for creating the future of design. Founded by Issey Miyake, various designers and artists active in different fields have collaborated to create it. And with an accessible ‘everyday’ theme, this venue offers a wide variety of unique and refreshing exhibitions to enjoy.

Midtown Garden, Tokyo Midtown, 9-7-6 Akasaka, Minato-ku


Lionel Beccat

Executive chef of Two MICHELIN Star French ESqUISSE from the 2024 MICHELIN Guide Tokyo. Born in Corsica and raised in Marseille, Beccat studied French cuisine in his home country of France before coming to Japan in 2006. Captivated by the Japanese ingredients and terroir, he now creates French cuisine filled with sensitivity from Ginza. Exhilarating moments and soul-stirring experiences are indispensable to a chef. But incredible artworks and experiences don’t directly impact cuisine. Rather, a chef treasures the time when the stimulation of that inspiration or astonishment becomes an integral part of the self.


Top Image: Ⓒ ESqUISSE


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