Michelin-Starred Chef and Farm-to-Table Fare Attract Chinese Tourists to Four Seasons Tokyo’s New Motif

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The view of Tokyo Station from Motif Bar & Restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi. (Courtesy Photo)

With classic French cooking techniques, local Japanese ingredients, and a photo-worthy setting, Four Seasons Tokyo at Marunouchi’s newly opened Motif Restaurant & Bar is geared toward discerning travelers at a time when Chinese tourists are flocking to Japan for luxury vacations.

Overlooking Tokyo’s Marunouchi Station, Motif Restaurant & Bar opened in April 2015 and is overseen by Chef Hiroshi Nakamichi, who received his training in France and is known for his three-Michelin-star flagship restaurant Moliere in Sapporo.

Seasonal vegetables with truffles. (Courtesy Photo)

Seasonal vegetables with truffles. (Courtesy Photo)

Designed by Hong Kong architect André Fu, known for his work on projects such as Hong Kong’s Upper House and boutique design for brands including Louis Vuitton and Lane Crawford in Hong Kong, Motif features three different dining areas with different “atmospheres.” These include the dramatic “social salon” dining area, a relaxed “living room” bar area with a fireplace and oversized sofas, and “gastronomic gallery” that offers interactive culinary experiences. At nighttime, guests have a prime view from the seventh-floor restaurant onto the iconic Tokyo Station.

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The menu at Motif focuses on seasonal farm-to-table ingredients. (Courtesy Photo)

The restaurant’s opening happened not only as Chinese tourist numbers to Japan skyrocketed, but also as Chinese spending on experiential luxury such as fine dining and hotels has been on the rise. The number of Chinese visitors to Japan doubled to 5 million in 2015, while Chinese tourists became the largest spenders in Japan last year. Accounting for 40 percent of all consumption by foreign tourists in the country, they spent so much that the Japanese term bakugai, or “explosion buying” used to refer to their shopping, was named as Japan’s word of the year for 2015.

But it’s not just shopping that Chinese luxury travelers are interested in. Last year, a survey found that Chinese luxury consumers now spend more on travel itself than on luxury goods, and interest in experiential luxury such as exotic getaways, fine dining, and spa activities is on the rise.

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The main dining area of Motif, designed by Hong Kong architect André Fu. (Courtesy Photo)

With many ingredients sourced from Chef Nakamichi’s hometown of Hokkaido, the restaurant’s menu features French cooking techniques applied to farm-to-table Japanese vegetables, fish, and meat. The Japanese influence is apparent early on in the restaurant’s 10-course tasting menu, which includes items such as a buckwheat galette with homemade ham and quail eggs topped with a maitake mushroom, a breadcrumbed scallop with shiso, lily root roasted with yuzu citrus, and marinated Biwa trout from Lake Biwa in Japan. The restaurant’s French identity comes out in full force later in the meal in dishes including fois gras sautéed with dried persimmon and lemon, monkfish à la meunière, and roasted lamb with roquefort tart, baby onions, and rosemary. Desserts also feature an artful Japanese-French blend of flavors, such as the fondant chocolate with green tea ice cream and soy sauce rice crackers.

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Roasted lamb with roquefort tart, baby onions, and rosemary. (Courtesy Photo)

In addition to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and tapas, Motif’s afternoon tea is a popular activity for Chinese visitors. Featuring wagyu burgers, truffle-flavored popcorn, potato gratin, and colorful pastries, it serves as a convenient post-shopping activity with ample opportunities to snap string photos to share on WeChat. To promote the restaurant to experiential luxury-focused hotel guests, Four Seasons is offering a “stay and dine” weekend package for visitors that includes a combination of a two-night stay and tasting course dinner, which is available through the Chinese New Year season and the rest of February.

 

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