Congratulations to Tetsuo for his Restaurant’s Michelin Star
It All Started with One Beer Nov 30, 2013 the first thing ordered by the first customer of his first restaurant -- acá1° -- Kyoto, Japan
iPhone 4S at an effective 35mm — 1/20 sec, f/2.4, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
It All Started with One Beer
Nov 30, 2013
the first thing ordered by the first customer of his first restaurant

Congratulations to Tetsuo Azuma for his restaurant acá1° having been awarded a Michelin star, the only Spanish restaurant in Kyoto to have earned the honor. For comparison, Osaka, which has double the population, has none. Tokyo, which has about 10 times the population, has three.

After working and apprenticing in Japan, New York, and Spain, he opened his own restaurant in November 2013. I was his first customer.

Opening-Day Menu -- acá1° -- Kyoto, Japan
iPhone 4S at an effective 35mm — 1/20 sec, f/2.4, ISO 125 — map & image datanearby photos
Opening-Day Menu
Preparing a (the first!) Cheese Plate Nov 30, 2013 -- acá1° -- Kyoto, Japan
iPhone 4S at an effective 35mm — 1/20 sec, f/2.4, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Preparing a (the first!) Cheese Plate
Nov 30, 2013

We've seen Tetsuo on my blog before, a year before opening his restaurant, in Father/Son Photo Shoot: Tetsuo and Issei.

Paul Barr Joins Me Nov 30, 2013 as other customers also start filling the seats -- acá1° -- Kyoto, Japan
iPhone 4S at an effective 35mm — 1/15 sec, f/2.4, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
Paul Barr Joins Me
Nov 30, 2013
as other customers also start filling the seats
Mmmmmmm, Ham Nov 30, 2013 as Damien Douxchamps also joins in on opening day -- acá1° -- Kyoto, Japan
iPhone 4S at an effective 35mm — 1/17 sec, f/2.4, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
Mmmmmmm, Ham
Nov 30, 2013
as Damien Douxchamps also joins in on opening day

The thin-sliced ham calls to mind the tasty Spanish ham and beer five years ago that led, in a curious way reported on that post, to me meeting Tetsuo in the first place.

Grilled-Vegetable Plate May 5, 2014 -- acá1° -- Kyoto, Japan
iPhone 4S at an effective 35mm — 1/15 sec, f/2.4, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Grilled-Vegetable Plate
May 5, 2014

I've been to his restaurant a number of time since, of course, but seem to have photos from only a few visits. (Somehow I guess I wanted to concentrate on the food instead of the photography?)

I'm no good at food photography anyway, and using a phone camera certainly doesn't help, but like everything he prepares, his grilled vegetables are amazing, much more-so than the photo might allude to. Grilling vegetables is such a simple thing and we've all done it, so why don't mine taste like this? 🙂

I'd brought Fumie there for a date night, and she liked it so much we went back the next week for our anniversary. I must have mentioned the occasion when making the reservation, because he surprised us at the end of the meal with a bonus dessert plate:

Bonus Dessert Plate what a nice, personal touch May 16, 2014 -- acá1° -- Kyoto, Japan
iPhone 4S at an effective 35mm — 1/15 sec, f/2.4, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
Bonus Dessert Plate
what a nice, personal touch
May 16, 2014

Last year we brought Fumie's folks for a family dinner, and for that I actually had a real camera...

Kid's Plate Oct 27, 2015 -- acá1° -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/125 sec, f/1.4, ISO 2500 — map & image datanearby photos
Kid's Plate
Oct 27, 2015

Somewhere along the line he changed from a menu system to a set course, where you show up and get the day's meal. When you make your reservation, you can mention allergies and special requests, but for the most part it's a set course.

The flavor and presentation are decidedly adult, but he's not at all kid averse, so while us four adults had the day's set-course meal, he made a special plate of kid-friendly tastes for 13-year-old Anthony. The presentation is still top notch, though.

To be able to abandon a menu and tell customers show up and I'll decide what to give you, well, I thought that it must be a testament to how well the restaurant is doing. I imagine it lets him concentrate more on specific dishes that offer variety over time instead of limiting oneself to what you can provide all the time. As a customer, you give up flexibility for a more unique, tasty experience. I suppose.

(Another friend has a two-Michelin-star restaurant, and he's never had a menu; he didn't even want to be listed in the Michelin Guide and tried to get them to take his restaurant out, but apparently to no avail since it's still listed.)

A similar testament to how well he's doing is my inability to make a reservation at short notice; he's too popular for a spur-of-the-moment date night. You know, one would think that having been his first customer would get me free meals for life and maybe even a kidney or two, but no, I can't even get a next-day reservation. First-world problems. 🙂

Tableside Preparation Oct 27, 2015 -- acá1° -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/125 sec, f/1.4, ISO 2200 — map & image datanearby photos
Tableside Preparation
Oct 27, 2015

One thing Tetsuo does better than anyone I've ever seen is prepare food at your table. He brings it over in bulk, perhaps does a final slice or mix, and then dishes it out to the plates as seen above. The impact of how he does it is completely lost in these words, but it's amazing. The quiet care and precision of his movements exude the sense that you're witnessing a true expert at work, a feeling all the more enhanced by his humble demeanor and a total lack that it's being done for show.

It sets a mood of anticipation, and very high expectations that don't fail. It really added to the experience when he did this for our table.

The Paella Reveal -- acá1° -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/125 sec, f/1.4, ISO 4000 — map & image datanearby photos
The Paella Reveal

Fumie is a particular fan of paella and we've tried it at many Spanish restaurants in the area, but his paella is the only one that can match what she had in Barcelona. Every time we try the paella at a new place, we're disappointed. It's not as good as Tetsuo's. I'm a particular fan of his black squid-ink paella.

While we're talking about what he's spoiled for us, I've got to add in there sangria. I love a good sangria, and he makes his own that's simply amazing. A glass of it ends with an apple slice at the bottom, the slice having been soaking in wine and other fruits, so to pluck it out and eat it is a slice of heaven.

(Sadly, like the whole restaurant, it's a bit pricey for my normal level, but since we're indulging in the first place even to go, in this I let myself indulge even further.)

Lemon Slice with the fish paella -- acá1° -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/125 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1100 — map & image datanearby photos
Lemon Slice
with the fish paella
Ice-Cream Dessert -- acá1° -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/125 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1800 — map & image datanearby photos
Ice-Cream Dessert
Bonus Fudge-Chocolate Dessert luckily, calories don't count on special occasions -- acá1° -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/125 sec, f/1.4, ISO 3200 — map & image datanearby photos
Bonus Fudge-Chocolate Dessert
luckily, calories don't count on special occasions

Now that he's listed in the Michelin Guide with a star, I suppose that reservations will be even harder to get. Best to call well ahead. (I don't know about his staff, but Tetsuo is perfectly fluent in English. I also suppose he speaks Spanish as well.)


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