The certification program of Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Stores Overseas

Interview of Supporter Stores Au 14 Fevrier Lyon

A popular, hard-to-reserve restaurant that has captivated the epicurean people of Lyon Discovering the key that enables Japanese ingredients to merge into traditional French cuisine

Lyon / France

The exterior, interior, tableware, and presentation-everything immediately captures the eye

Cobblestone streets can still be found winding through the old town of Lyon. And if you go toward the cathedral and turn into a small path nearby, everyone comes to a stop as their eyes are drawn to a glass-fronted, modern and bright restaurant. Chef Arai, who has been living in Lyon for 13 years, opened this restaurant here in the old part of the town in 2017. Lunch on this day was completely booked as usual by local French residents, with the exception of myself (the writer). This is a Michelin-starred restaurant that has captured the hearts of the people of Lyon, also known as the city of gastronomy.

Working with diligence and elegance, a Japanese chef has blossomed in this revered city of gastronomy

When I asked Chef Arai why he chose Lyon, he answered, “I dreamed of going to this city of gastronomy, and when I came to Lyon during my first visit to France, its scenic landscape and its people captured my heart.” He added, “When I came to France, I was already more than 30 years old, and since I had 10 years of experience working for Chef Hiroyuki Sakai in Tokyo, I wanted to test my abilities by starting immediately here in Lyon.” And what Chef Arai always keeps in mind is to use local products, to evoke his Japanese identity, and to integrate the sense of the seasons.

The chef’s commitment and love for the culinary arts is felt with each and every bite

When we asked for an interview, we were told, “Although I use Japanese ingredients, what I serve is none other than French cuisine.” And yet, Japanese ingredients embellish all of his dishes, so much so that you almost think you’re having Japanese cuisine. For example, deep-fried tofu skin would be used as a canape, or miso would be used as a hidden seasoning, or Japanese pepper would be added to the butter to give it an elegant aroma. I noticed that the diners sitting next to me finished off this butter very quickly. Origami of Japanese traditional paper were also used as decorations, and there was one dish that was served in a style similar to yakitori. Although what he was serving was traditional French cuisine (in every sense from taste, decorations, and style), it was sprinkled with an array of creativity that touched upon his Japanese identity, which gave me a sense of nostalgia and comfort. But to the French, this gives them an element of fresh surprise.
The Japanese ingredients that he is currently using are mainly seasonings, but he sometimes finds Japanese-style bowls sold at the shops in Lyon, which he actively incorporates into his presentations.

His love for his Japanese homeland is reaching across the ocean

It has been 13 years since he made Lyon his home. His restaurant is now recognized as French cuisine being created by a Japanese chef, and is looked upon with high expectations. He is striving to meet those expectations by creating dishes that merge Japanese ingredients into French cuisine, but he doesn’t adjust his creations to meet the preferences of his customers. For now, he finds inspiration mainly from Japanese ingredients that he can obtain locally, creates and tries out those ideas, and asks his customers to empathize with those creations. And his guests are enjoying this style of service. Chef Arai is from Kofu city in Yamanashi prefecture in Japan. He is currently hoping to give back to his hometown by introducing products created in those areas to this faraway land of Lyon, France. He has already been communicating with producers of various local specialties from his home province, and is searching for ways to make this new dream come real. The chef sends his hope to the local producers who seek to expand into the overseas market that they continue to stride bravely forward, having faith in their own path while keeping to heart the words that he received from his mentor, Chef Hiroyuki Sakai: “yuou maishin” (meaning “to press forward without fear toward your goal”).

List of shops

Au 14 Fevrier Lyon
Au 14 Fevrier Lyon36 Rue du Bœuf, 69005 Lyon
Tel: +33 4 78 92 91 39 site: a new window will open.