Bianco meets: Teruyuki Tange
If you’re ever going to visit Tokyo, there is no way around Kaikaya By The Sea. Right in Shibuya, next to the Pigalle store, you will - and should – look out for this beauty of a restaurant. The magic of Kaikaya begins with superior cooking skills and ends with one of the best atmospheres you will ever eat your food in. Eating at Kaikaya means getting the best Japanese food possible without having to sit in a fancy restaurant being treated like a prince (side note: I hate that!). Kaikaya is more of a classic-style Izakaya, where you’re hanging out, eating, drinking, smoking, and, almost certainly, are going to have the best two hours of your life.
The walls at Kaikaya are splattered with pictures from all over the globe; an endless list of skate and street wear legends, movie stars who had been visiting the place, and a big load of surfing memorabilia. Imagine Jack Johnson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Charles Bukowski, Anthony Bourdain, and Stéphane Ashpool are running a restaurant together – that’s Kaikaya by the Sea.
The mastermind behind this amazing restaurant (and one of the first friends I made in Tokyo) is Teruyuki Tange. This lovely guy, who travelled the world and met every designer of the fancy clothes you have been and will be wearing, serves the best food I’ve ever had and still runs no fancy, preppy, expensively glittering shithole.
For me (and, because I’m a man of the people, also for you) to understand a bit more about the magic and story behind Kaikaya, I sat down with T. Tange for a short but lovely interview about his art.
T. Tange, could you please tell us a little bit more about Kaikaya´s and your story?
Bianco, thank you for your kindness. First, I’m going to talk about myself. Long story short, I was born and raised in Tokyo and I was naughty when I was young. I dropped out from high school when I was 17 and moved to Osaka and Kobe for a cooking job. And then, I really got into my job, discovered surfing, made a lot of friends, started working at a prestigious traditional Japanese restaurant, called“NADA-MAN.” I travelled many cities and ports, ate different food, and met all kinds of different people. A few years later, I opened my own restaurant and did whatever I wanted to do. :)
What are the principles of an Izakaya and why do you consider Kaikaya as an Izakaya, too?
We don’t have any rules, but we believe in our own restaurant: “In order for people we meet today to enjoy KAIKAYA, We, ourselves must enjoy the on-going life.” The principle of KAIKAYA is to have a good time with people in an IZAKAYA. And we believe in this a lot.
What is the secret behind the good food at Kaikaya?
The secret is no secret. I go to TSUKIJI (Fish Market) by myself to get fresh seafood every day. So everyone should definitely eat “SASHIMI” at Kaikaya.
If someone is totally new to Kaikaya, what dishes should she or he definitely order?
They should order the food I mentioned above: “Assorted Sashimi.”
All of the walls at Kaikaya are full of famous people; from skate legends and street wear giants, to musicians and actors. When did famous people start to show up and how do you feel about that?
I don’t remember since when “famous people” start to come to Kaikaya, although it’s an honour to have them coming. I’m not sure how they find out about KAIKAYA … However, I was very excited when Norah Jones, Jack Johnson, and Scarlett Johansson came to our place because I’m a huge fan of them.
Two years ago, I tried to order a lot of tuna and one of your waiters stopped me. He told me to think and care about the ocean and overfishing. Is this an unwritten rule in your restaurant, to not overdo and eat things?
Yes, it’s true, but also pretty simply because if you eat too much of the same food, you would get sick of it. What my waiter was trying to say was probably the same. You should just try different dishes!
You travelled the world, Tange: What were the best dishes you came across on your trips and what were the best places you visited?
Dishes that left me speechless were seafood dishes from Singapore, vegetable dishes from NANJIN and Xi’an, China, and Caviar soup from St. Petersburg, Russia … and many more. But my most favourite cuisine will always be the Japanese cuisine, of course.
Places I will never forget are Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka, Raul, Papua New Guinea, and Lakes Entrance, Australia … and many more. =)
You got great postcards promoting your restaurants and I heard you are drawing them by yourself – when did you learn how to do that? You should definitely start producing T-shirts!
I always liked to draw, since my childhood, but I’ve never learned in a school or something. They are my freestyle drawings. I have been making T-shirts for my staffs for 10 years. However, they are not for sale … or shall I? Lol
My favourite card is the one where you introduce the whole Kaikaya crew, all at once. Your crew seems to come from all over the world, so, what’s the story behind that and is there a special member from the Kaikaya cooking team you want to tell us more about?
I’ve never actively looked for employees. Luckily, my employees got all naturally introduced to me by people around me. I really would like to name the following fellows who are now ex-Kaikaya family and now run their very own IZAKAYAS.
Dear T. Tange, could you tell us your three, favourite restaurants in Tokyo, where we should also go to?
If I have to recommend the other restaurant in Tokyo, I would recommend the following:
Please, name three places we should visit once we are in Tokyo?
I would recommend people to visit the following places when in Tokyo:
- KABUKI-CHO SHINJUKU, at 4 in the morning
- The area around AMEYOKO UENO
- The area around TAISYAKUTEN SHIBAMATA
- … and much more.
T. Tange, what’s your favourite dish, something that you never want to miss in your life?
I can’t imagine life without Sushi, Unagi, Yakiniku, Ra-men, and Grilled Saury with salt … and much more =)
Thanks a lot, bossman, are there any last words for Biancissimo?
I asked my trilingual friend to help me on my writing. So please don’t get the wrong impression of my English skills lol.
And thank you very much and hope to see you soonest!