Daisuke Tsuji is doing something special at his intimate 20-seater in Sendagaya: Italian cuisine based on Tuscan home cooking but with a very personal expression reflected in each dish. There’s no menu – you’re required to join Tsuji on a journey from entrata all the way to dolce, but you’re unlikely to want to hop off before the entire ride is over.
Made mainly with locally sourced and seasonal ingredients (with the exception of imported Italian olive oil, cheese and cured meats), the menu changes monthly. One dish, however, is a constant – and a testament to Chef Tsuji’s talent: the Cacio e Pepe, perhaps the simplest of pasta dishes but one that leaves no room for error.
The fettuccine is made fresh using a high ratio of eggs to flour to give it a rich golden colour and flavour. Tsuji prefers to use French bread flour because ‘it has a better hand feel when kneading’. The pasta is then thickly cut by hand. Once cooked for a few minutes, butter, Pecorino Romano and Grana Padano cheeses are added, along with a very generous grinding of black pepper. The pasta is chewy, the cheese salty and the pepper provides heat and a gentle crunch – a perfect balance.
You can expect a different main dish each month, but Chef Tsuji enjoys using pork, especially the Tuscan Cinta Senese breed raised in Kyushu’s Kagoshima. We enjoyed the juicy pork shoulder, served on a bed of potato purée accompanied by French chanterelle mushrooms, charcoaled bread crumbs and baby amaranth leaves. Lunch (around ¥4,000) is a perfect intro to the Convivio experience, while ¥10,000 will get you the full ten-course trip at dinner time.