In a land of extraordinary restaurants, monk stands out for the place it occupies between tradition and innovation. Located in Kyoto, the restaurant is situated just off the Philosopher's Path, a tree-lined pedestrian walk famed for its serenity and the many temples which it passes.
Chef-owner Yoshihiro Imai forages and markets daily in the countryside outside the city, and runs his small, fourteen-seat restaurant with just two staff. Almost all the cooking is done in a wood-fired oven. The tasting menu changes with the evolving seasons. And every meal starts with pizza.
If pizza seems bizarre for a Japanese restaurant, Imai makes it clear in thoughtful essays throughout the book that pizza makes profound sense on many levels, from the ease with which it may be shared among diners to the way in which allows the presentation of so many ingredients
There is more, of course, from vegetables to seafood, all quickly cooked and beautifully presented with respect for Japanese ideals but informed by the chef's travels worldwide. Sumptuous photography here makes it clear why monk has become a destination: the pursuit of beauty has not hidden the appeal of the food behind abstraction. This is an uncommonly insightful book which speaks to the passions of both cooks and eaters.
Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.