Renowned French chef Dominique Bouchet has developed a close relationship with Japan over the past 40 years: The culinary master operates a bistro and a Michelin-starred restaurant in Ginza and another Michelin-starred restaurant back in France. He’s fascinated with combining the two cuisines, often to surprising and delightful effect.

Recently, his eye has turned to teppanyaki, where meats are cooked on an iron griddle. In 2019, he opened the aptly named Dominique Bouchet Kyoto Le Teppanyaki on the third floor of The Westin Miyako Kyoto, an ambitious attempt to imbue Japanese grilled meat with a luxurious taste of his homeland.

“Since I’ve been coming to this country, most of the teppanyaki I’ve been around look all the same,” Bouchet explains. “I wanted to make it more French — elegant teppanyaki.”

Westin Japan Kyoto Food

The French Connection

This cross-cultural experiment becomes clear one dish into a meal at Dominique Bouchet Kyoto Le Teppanyaki, where guests have the option of sitting in front of a large griddle which a diligent chef controls throughout the course. A server brings out a shrimp carpaccio, the translucent dish dotted by pieces of caviar, apple, radish and more. It’s a proper amuse-bouche, the sort Bouchet says you wouldn’t encounter when perched up at a traditional teppanyaki spot.

A lunch, dinner or special event course at Dominique Bouchet Kyoto Le Teppanyaki features culinary flourishes inspired by Bouchet’s experience in the French culinary world. There are salads and a carrot mousse, and diners can also opt for a plate of rich French cheeses. And, of course, flashes of Bouchet’s creative food fusions punctuate the meal. Drawing from his own history, for instance, the chef mixed southern France’s bouillabaisse with ramen to create a post-meal noodle dish connecting the two nations he holds dear.

Westin Japan Food

The Meat of the Matter

But for all the French touches, Bouchet understands what the center of attention is:

“We want to respect the main part of the teppanyaki — the beef.”

As the chef warms up the griddle, a waiter appears at his side carrying a large box of bright red marbled meat. He explains today’s selection hails from the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture. This is all part of Bouchet’s grand vision: While Kobe beef has become the default idea of a luxury meat-based meal in Japan, Bouchet wants diners to understand that the archipelago boasts more great cuts from different regions.

As the chef slides slices of beef across the griddle’s sizzling top, a selection of sauces are placed on the table alongside classic teppanyaki toppings such as wasabi, onions and salt. Most of these are custom-made.

“We created five sauces that change with the seasons,” Bouchet says. “It gives visitors a choice.” (The restaurant offers an additional four custom-made sauces year-round as well.

Composite Expressions

Every combination of perfectly cooked beef with a sauce or topping adds a new dimension to the dish. Dominique Bouchet Kyoto Le Teppanyaki reveals what feels like dozens of new angles on a familiar type of Japanese dining — not only in terms of the food, but also the environment in which it’s served. Bouchet says the classic image of teppanyaki is of salarymen getting together after work to enjoy meat and alcohol. He wanted to make it more inviting, particularly to women. The dining area is sleeker and fancier, with more sophisticated drink offerings like wine and champagne.

Dominique Bouchet Kyoto Le Teppanyaki provides a balance between innovation and tradition, all while underscoring Bouchet’s culinary ethos. It’s unlike any teppanyaki you’ ll find in Japan, but it still presents the traditions that have made this experience a staple in the country. That extends to the feeling of closeness one shares with the person preparing their food — and even, in some cases, Bouchet himself, as he visits every two months, including for special events, in order to meet his guests in person.

“The meaning of all this is emotion — the connection between customer and chef. You can have that here.”

Pierre Marie Brisson Reception with Dominique Bouchet Kyoto 2023

Dominique Bouchet Kyoto Le Teppanyaki aims to foster a sense of intimacy between chefs and customers, not just through exquisite meals, but also through parties held at the venue throughout the year. On Friday, October 27, dozens gathered for one such event, honoring the celebrated French artist Pierre Marie Brisson, whose works are currently on display at Dominique Bouchet Kyoto Le Teppanyaki and the neighboring Le Restaurant, also owned by Bouchet.

The energy in the room is convivial and warm; Brisson and the renowned chef have been friends and collaborators since the 1980s, and as fate would have it, an exhibit of Brisson’s work recently opened in Kyoto.

“I’ve just started to do exhibitions in Japan recently, and finally tonight we are in the country at the same time,” Brisson says. The evening finds guests enjoying a wide variety of culinary art created by Bouchet, ranging from French-Japanese fusion dishes to flavorful desserts. As they eat, they take in Brisson’s imaginative creations. It’s a chance to eat, drink and appreciate art in one beautiful space.

Additional Info on The Westin Miyako Kyoto’s Dominique Bouchet Kyoto Dominique Bouchet Kyoto Le Teppanyaki

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