Tatsuya Kawagoe’s self-titled restaurant in Tokyo’s trendy Daikanyama district showcases the 39-year-old chef’s own Japanese take on Italian food. Case in point: His nama-fu meunière dish, which combines a Buddhist vegetarian ingredient—wheat gluten—with Western techniques.
After studying French cuisine at Osaka’s Tsuji Culinary Institute, Mr. Kawagoe worked in Kobe before heading to Tokyo in 2000 to focus on Italian cuisine, opening Tiara K Ristorante, then moving to his current restaurant in 2006. “Now people think I’m an Italian chef, but I don’t consider myself so. I’d rather create a new genre,” said the boyish-looking native of Miyazaki, a city on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu.