Premium Dining

by James D. Bell

ruths-chris-leadOnly last year, Tokyo’s restaurant scene hit the international spotlight with the Michelin Guide introducing an exclusive Tokyo Guide featuring 150 of the city’s top restaurants in three categories.

Living up to its expectations, Tokyo confirms its title of the world capital of gastronomy with the publication of the second edition of Michelin Guide Tokyo 2009. There are now 173 recipients, including nine 3-Star restaurants (eight in 2008), thirty-six 2-Star (25) and 128 1-Star (117), which adds up to more than twice the number in Paris (97).

However, the upscale restaurant business is the hardest-hit sector in the industry globally and we have all seen or heard similar tales of favorite restaurants closing down due to the pressure. As the Michelin Guide proves, though, there are exceptions and we can learn first-hand from one such restaurateur what it takes to not only be successful but also thrive in this industry.

For Koichi Ono, General Manager of Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Kasumigaseki, dining is more than just a personal leisure activity. Anticipating customers ever changing needs and providing exemplary service are vital. “Though we enjoy loyal patronage from our regular customers, we constantly have to think out of the box and add value to their total dining experience,” says Ono.

Ruth’s Chris, a premium steakhouse that has expanded to 122 locations worldwide since it was founded in New Orleans in 1965, serves high-quality aged beef with a unique searing process that locks in flavor using an 1800°F oven and plates heated to 500°F, delivering the utmost in quality. “Ruth’s Chris has exclusive agreements with its suppliers of premium beef,” says Ono.

But success is more than just serving top-quality food, he quickly adds. “At Ruth’s Chris we have three private rooms of various capacities and we have recently seen an increase in requests for business lunches and dinners, private parties and even presentations during lunches or dinners. To facilitate our clients’ growing needs we can install overhead projectors and screens in our private rooms and we change the room’s ambiance to accommodate the occasion.”

Ono regularly invites concierges from the city’s top hotels to dine, which enables them to experience first-hand Ruth’s Chris’ hospitality and food quality. This leads to a steady stream of reservations from guests at the concierges’ well-established hotels such as The Peninsula Tokyo, Hotel Okura, Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, New Otani, ANA Intercontinental, and the recently opened Shangri-La Hotel Tokyo. Of course, it also helps to be an established brand with restaurants in Aruba, Canada, Mexico, UAE, Hong Kong and Taiwan as well as in many states in the U.S.

Finally, a key factor for any restaurant to be successful is undoubtedly the location. Prominently located in the Tokyo Club Building in Kasumigaseki—Japan’s political nerve center—has helped them grow in stature and sales since opening in October 2007.

Building owner and leading Real Estate developer Mitsui Fudosan has dedicated the entire three- storey building into a unique premium dining facility called Kasumi Dining, which houses nine restaurants with a variety of choices. ❖

Restaurants at Kasumi Dining
Tokyo Club Building
3-2-6 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0013
Access: Tokyo Metro Toranomon Station Exit 5 (2 mins.)

First Floor
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
Tel: 03-3501-0822

Ruby Café Organic – Italian Restaurant
Tel: 03-5501-0666

Délirium Café Tokyo – Belgian Beer Café
Tel: 03-3501-3181

SAKE bistro W – Japanese Dining Bar
Tel: 03-3501-1811

Second Floor
Fresh Fish & White Rice Hokkori – Japanese Restaurant
Tel: 03-3511-6060

Torikai Sohonke – Nagoya Cochin Specialty Restaurant
Tel: 03-3501-7766

Kasumigaseki – Japanese Bar
Tel: 03-3501-0877

Third Floor
Ristorante di Hokkaido Mia Angela – Italian Restaurant
Tel: 03-3539-3539

Chinese Cuisine Iwaen – Chinese Restaurant
Tel: 03-3501-3222