“I have always had a very deep connection to Japan and Japanese culture,” says award-winning chef David Myers, whose former Los Angeles restaurant Sona took the West Coast food scene by storm, earning him a Michelin star for three consecutive years, starting in 2007. In more recent years, Myers has harnessed his obsession with travel and the Far East by opening restaurants in Singapore, Dubai and Tokyo in particular, where his four hotspots Adrift, David Myers Café, Salt Water and 72 Degrees Juicery draw crowds daily. Locally sourced ingredients are a Myers hallmark, along with a California sensibility for casual dining and access to the best culinary approaches from across the globe.
“I have been so fortunate to be able to go once a month to Japan, from Hokkaido to Kyushu, but the heartbeat for me is in Tokyo, where there is inspiration at every turn,” says Myers, who describes himself as a “gypsy chef.” A daily jog through the city is his preferred mode of exploration, leading to the discovery of some of his all-time favorite spots, from breathtaking shrines to knife makers and pastry shops. Here he shares some of his most beloved Tokyo spots — borrow from his insider list when it comes time to plan your next trip.
TOYOSAKA INARI SHRINE — “This shrine is in the middle of Shibuya and yet is the most peaceful spot, surrounded by a forest. It feels so magical here. I love to run through here in the mornings.”
ARITSUGU — “This famous knife maker in Tsujiki is the real deal. You choose what you want and then they go off and make it. It is hand-finished, and the experience makes you feel as if you are getting a samurai sword made for you. The level of craft is mind-blowing. Their main shop is in the market in Kyoto, and it is pristine.”
HIGASHIYA — “Here you can find the most stunning handmade pastries. It is in a traditional old house, and the owner designed the space so beautifully. In the summer they serve shaved ice that’s flavored with different seasonal matcha teas.”
45 RPM — “This high-end Japanese clothing brand has a retail shop in an old Japanese home that feels like it is out of the shogun era. It’s next to Adrift, my restaurant in the Marunouchi neighborhood near the Tokyo train station. They burn incense, and one summer there was a big live fire burning out front, and they used it to make fresh matcha and mochi. The husband and wife who own it are super interesting people.”
TORITAMA — “I love yakitori, and being from California, grilling meat over a live fire feels like home. Here they use all parts of the chicken, and it’s done by a master chef. It’s served rare and it’s really, really good. They also have an epic sake collection.”
ALIVIAR — “This is a phenomenal bar in the Ebisu neighborhood on the ground level of a residential building that I once stayed in through Airbnb. I tried it the first time and it blew me away. The owner/bartender makes a martini and stirs it with his eyes closed because he is putting his energy in it. It was the best martini I have had in my life. He has regulars that go there daily. The passion that he puts into his work is on another level — he is an unknown legend.”