Code Kurkku: Cross-Cultural Dining With an Organic Twist
Fusion Food With A Conscience
In a city like Tokyo, you’re never short of discovering a new cool space to enjoy an innovative and indulgent meal. I recently found myself at Yoyogi Village — an eco-conscious shopping and dining complex — to experience Code kurkku, the village’s standout Japanese-Italian restaurant and bar.
Planted in the midst of the city’s skyscrapers, with its white low-rise buildings (shipping containers to be exact) and exotic landscape garden, Yoyogi Village replicates a small, eco-friendly community — exactly as the name suggests. The brainchild of acclaimed music producer Takeshi Kobayashi, Yoyogi Village is a part of the Kurkku project which aims to promote healthy and environmentally-friendly living in the city through various ventures.
There are quite a few enticing cafes and shops that might grab your attention, but nothing as eye-catching as Code kurkku. Located at the end of the path that weaves through the complex, a striking two-story building with a glass façade houses one of the trendiest restaurants and bars I’ve laid my eyes on recently.
As I was welcomed and escorted to my table by the intuitive staff, I couldn’t help but admire the high-ceilinged sleek interior, strongly influenced by a Scandinavian aesthetic. On one hand: a harmonious combination of glass, blonde wood and lush vertical garden, on the other; exposed brick walls, leather furniture and gorgeous hanging light fixtures, together setting a laid-back but chic tone.
A collaboration between two restaurants – Tokyo’s kurkku, and fine-dining Italian restaurant Il Ghiottone from Kyoto, Code kurkku skillfully marries Italian and Japanese cuisines with an emphasis on supporting sustainable agriculture and using organic seasonal ingredients.
The kitchen is helmed by executive chef Yasuhiro Sasajima who takes inspiration from traditional Japanese cooking for the progressive and elegant Italian dishes he creates.
It was only fitting to start the dinner on a glorious summer evening with a glass of mixed berry mojito – so addictively sumptuous and vibrant, I could have ordered three more if it wasn’t a work day.
If you’re not into fruity cocktails, however, you can choose a glass of red or white from an extensive collection of Japanese, Italian or French wines. The dinner menu features three options of set menus (Casual ¥6,800, Seasonal ¥8,500 and signature Code Kurkku ¥12,000), as well as an option to order à la carte. Never one to say no to a coherent tasting menu highlighting the best a chef has to offer, I immediately opted for the signature set.
Home-baked olive bread (yes!) and baguette fill the gap until the first appetizer arrives – “organic bagna freida.” Crisp and fresh vegetables, beautifully presented in a cocktail glass, served with a side of anchovy, garlic and vinegar sauce serve as a refreshing palate cleanser.
Although, it’s the next course that makes a true statement – chilled capellini cooked perfectly al dente, bedded on gazpacho and topped with a spoonful of caviar. It was a lovely vibrant summer dish.
Next, a stunning platter of appetizers featured amberjack and sea bream sashimi, salami, pork roulette, and prosciutto complimented by the herb salad and vegetables. The pork, in particular, was a highlight – decadently creamy yet light, it had a delicate savory flavor that lingered on the tongue.
The soup course continued in the same excellent vein. The luxurious aroma of the catch of the day stimulated my senses well before I tasted the first spoonful. The fish was cooked to perfection and the broth was absolutely jam-packed with flavor. It was so simple but divine. While a pinch of extra salt would have perfected the dish for me, I won’t hesitate to order it again on my next visit.
The Main Course
For my fifth course – served in a miniature cast iron pot – I dipped the spoon in some of the creamiest, most heavenly fragrant risotto I’d ever tried. That first rich mouthful of perfectly cooked rice, soft-boiled egg and foie gras topped with shaved white truffle blew me away with its intense flavor. Sweet corn was cutting through the savory taste of the foie and provided a wonderful textural contrast. I kept plunging into my pot for seconds with aplomb. This is a winning dish and the one I’d go back to Code kurkku again and again for.
We took a little break and cleansed our palate with kiwi granita before the final savory course was served.
The charcoal grilled Hida beef was a thing of beauty. Cooked perfectly medium rare, it was accompanied with moreish seasonal vegetables sourced from Kyoto, and complimented with a black olive and anchovy sauce. It was such a delightful dish, and the perfect way to end our savories.
I’ll admit that my eye skipped straight to the dessert options as soon as we sat down because I caught sight of the Crepe Suzette (available for extra ¥2,200) – a real pièce de résistance offered by Code kurkku.
Theatrics of the preparation make half of the experience, with a mesmerizing flambé. The delicate crepe is drenched with syrup, orange jus, zest and liqueur.
Combined with the melting magic of the vanilla ice-cream on top it was a dessert fit for a queen.
Other alluring options include a classic cheese platter, Espresso Panna Cotta & Milk Gelato, Lemon Tart Parfait or Peach Flambee, just to name a few.
The dinner ended on a sweet note of salt and caramel chocolate petit-fours, and it felt only natural to wind down the night with a cocktail at the music bar next door, which serves as an extension to the restaurant.
With comfortable leather couches, dim lights and a DJ there to entertain you till 3.00 a.m., the bar provides a perfect atmosphere to chill and enjoy the night. Being within a 3-minute walking distance from Yoyogi Station also means that you don’t have to worry about finding your way home after all that indulgence (or finding your way back again).
Address: Yoyogi Village, 1-28-9, Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 050-5571-7503 (Reservation) 03-6300-5231 (For Inquiry)
Business Hours: Lunchtime: 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. (L.O.14:30) Dinner: 6 p.m. – 11 p.m. (L.O.9:30 p.m.)