Dinner at il AOYAMA

Dinner at il AOYAMA

with Yuko Suzuki and MASAHIKO HIRAIWA at il AOYAMA on 5 September 2023
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Nestled discreetly within a tranquil residential enclave of Nagoya lies Il Aoyama, a Michelin-starred gem that beckons lovers of fine Italian cuisine. Stepping through its doors, one immediately senses the elegant ambiance that envelops this culinary sanctuary, where innovation and artistry converge to create remarkable Italian dishes that change with the seasons.

Hailing as the culinary maestro behind this establishment is none other than Hiroaki Aoyama, a distinguished graduate of the esteemed Tsuji Culinary Institute in Osaka. With an impressive background that includes stints at some of Japan's most prestigious Italian eateries, Chef Aoyama embarked on his journey with Il Aoyama in 2014. It was a bold step that would ultimately earn him the coveted Michelin star, a testament to his unparalleled creativity and culinary mastery.

Chef Aoyama's unwavering commitment to sourcing the freshest ingredients is unwavering. His dedication often leads him to the heart of Italy, where he meticulously selects the components that will grace his dishes. This devotion is matched by his ingenious culinary techniques, perpetually seeking innovative methods to elevate the flavors in every creation.

Upon my second visit to Il Aoyama, I indulged in another exquisite dining experience together with the wine pairing at ¥42,000. The journey through the courses was nothing short of extraordinary:

Commencing with Matsutake soup, the flavors were subtly nuanced yet brimming with umami, setting the stage for an evening of culinary enchantment.

Fig tartare adorned with Nodoguro sashimi caviar and a delicate yuzu flower topping unveiled a tapestry of textures and layered flavors, a true testament to Chef Aoyama's skill.

Tempura-style grouper paired with sweet corn from Hokkaido showcased impeccably cooked, succulent fish harmonizing with the sweetness of corn—an exquisite pairing.

A daring venture into Managatsu fish, a delicacy notorious for its toxicity, delivered a savory experience that left us thankful for Chef Aoyama's expertise.

A highlight was the hand-made pasta, prepared before our very eyes, awash in a seafood tomato sauce that exuded a pungent yet harmonious flavor profile.

Unagi from Aichi prefecture, nestled alongside Italian risotto rice, struck a delightful balance with crispy exteriors and a lusciously tender core—a culinary symphony.

Kamo (Duck), seared to perfection on binchotan at low heat, unveiled crispy skin that yielded to a juicy, tantalizingly tender interior—a true culinary masterpiece.

Il Aoyama's culinary narrative, heavily influenced by Italian cuisine, paradoxically remains quintessentially Japanese—a fusion that elevates the dining experience to extraordinary heights. Chef Aoyama's expertise shines through in every dish, delivering a truly remarkable, and undeniably Japanese, interpretation of Italian cuisine. It's an experience not to be missed for any aficionado of fine Italian fare.

Italian Japanese
10 / 10