In the Sant’Agostino area of Milan, Bentoteca is the easy restaurant of chef Yoji Tokuyoshi, 1 Michelin star at the head of the Tokuyoshi Restaurant, which cleverly combines both Japanese tradition and cuisine with Italian raw materials and design.
Bentoteca was born in 2020 with the idea of opening a more informal pop-up eatery compared to the previous restaurants signed by chef Yoji Tokuyoshi, the one bearing his name in Milan and AlterEgo in Tokyo, and its success was so great that it has become one of the phenomena of the Lombard culinary scene of the last decade.
Born in Tottori in Japan into a family of pharmacists, Yoji Tokuyoshi soon became passionate about cooking and, after having worked in Italian restaurants in Tokyo, decides to gain experience in our country. He worked at the Osteria Francescana as Massimo Bottura’s sous-chef for 9 years and in 2015 he opened his first restaurant, immediately winning the Michelin star.
I started with the Japanese cuisine that my mom used to prepare and I enjoyed shaping it through my Italian adventures.
(Yoji Tokuyoshi, chef)
His genius consists in combining Japanese cuisine with the best Italian raw materials and the haute cuisine techniques, learned during his previous experiences, with great intelligence and creativity. A few examples? Miso, which expresses the savory Umami taste, is homemade, as well as from soy as tradition dictates, also from lentils and Borlotti beans, fresh fish, such as cuttlefish and squid, is fermented to enhance its taste, and, instead of common beef, the chef uses Black Ox of Salamanca aged 90 days from the Masseroni Butcher in Via Corsico in Milan for his famous Bentos.
In fact, the Bentoteca menu features many Bento Boxes, inspired by those that the chef’s mother used to prepare for him when he was a child, with rice, chicken and fried shrimp inside, the Japanese omelette or the salmon marinated in miso, obviously all reinterpreted with gourmet mastery.
Technique and witty irony can be read in every dish, especially in Tokuyoshi’s signature ones, such as Katsusando, two sandwiches with veal tongue cooked at low temperature and fried in Japanese style, green mayonnaise, spinach, cabbage, served on a decorated plate with a bull, or Butaman, steamed bao stuffed with pork, duck, shrimp, mushrooms and spices, shaped like a pig’s face.
Another curious note of Bentoteca’s cuisine are the dishes designed mainly in combination with natural wines, of which the chef is very passionate, especially Italian and French labels.
The interior of the restaurant is very suggestive, also a successful combination of Japanese tradition and Italian design. A tribute to the respect for nature which is part of the philosophy of chef Tokuyoshi’s cuisine, it is symbolized by the green color of the forests in the main room and by the blue of the deep seas in the lounge, designed for after dinner. Even the details of the decor follow the same concept, such as the original recycled copper panels reminiscent of tree trunks modeled by Algranti LAB or the stone elements of the mise en place created by Maddalena Selvini, while the seats are the famous vintage armchairs ” 814” designed by Ico Parisi 814 for Cassina lined in green velvet.
In contrast to the dark shades of the furniture, the beautiful paintings by Andrea Saltini, painter, poet, artistic director and performer of Carpi, stand out on the walls, including the fine works Penelope no natsu, and China girl.
How to best enjoy this wonder? Book at the counter to see chef Tokuyoshi live in action and then a table for two in the blue lounge to enjoy an after-dinner drink in total relaxation.
Bentoteca was initially born as a pop-up restaurant for delivery and take away in conjunction with the Keep Smiling Project volunteer activity conceived by chef Tokuyoshi and his team, once the Tokuyoshi restaurant was temporarily closed due to a Covid pandemic, to bring lunches and support to healthcare professionals.