Chef Youji Iwakura first knew he wanted to open a restaurant when he was still in the single digits. “One day when I was seven, I visited a restaurant, and the chef came out of the kitchen and he said something to me,” recalled Iwakura, noting that the details of the conversation are fuzzy. “At home my mom always cooked for me. My dad never cooked. Seeing a man as a chef, a cook, and then come and speak to me, it was totally different.”
A multi-level Japanese food paradise opens early next week in downtown Boston, and it comes from a chef who’s spent many years working in Japanese restaurants around the area. Youji Iwakura is finally ready to unveil a project of his own that’s two years in the making: Kamakura (150 State St., Boston) opens to the public on Tuesday, November 13, with a focus on kaiseki cuisine, or multi-course meals that make ample use of seasonal ingredients.
Here's your first look at the ownership debut from chef Youji Iwakura.
A veteran of Boston restaurants is bringing a taste of his hometown to the local dining scene. Kamakura, named for chef Youji Iwakura’s native coastal Japanese town, opens in the Financial District next week with elevated but traditional Japanese cuisine, wines and sake, and a rooftop lounge with views the Custom House.
Kamakura, for one, will introduce Boston to contemporary kaiseki cuisine, multi-course Japanese meals that feature beautiful plating and seasonal ingredients. Boston’s existing high-end Japanese dining scene is much more focused on sushi, although kaiseki isn’t entirely unheard of. Oishii, for example, offers a lunchtime kaiseki menu.
Chef Youji Iwakura took on a more-casual (albeit extremely serious) side of Japanese cuisine at Snappy Ramen in Davis Square. Now he is opening his own restaurant, named for his hometown, and casting his eye toward the rest of the canon — particularly kaiseki, traditional, artful multicourse meals. Kamakura, located in the Financial District, is expected to open in early fall. There will also be bento boxes for lunch, sashimi, and sushi omakase (chef’s choice). Don’t expect scorpion rolls: The menu at Kamakura emphasizes seasonality and authenticity, hewing truer to the form.
Youji Iwakura, the man behind Snappy Ramen, is bringing contemporary kaiseki cuisine to downtown Boston. Kamakura, named for the chef's hometown, will emphasize multicourse meals that marry modern Japanese street food and fine dining; there will also be bento boxes for lunch and a bar with sake and whiskey. Iwakura is perfectly prepped to pull off the cool concept: His lengthy résumé also includes the opening chef role at Basho and experience at other Boston faves like Uni.
A veteran of the local Japanese food scene has taken the first steps to open his own place. Chef Youji Iwakura appealed to the licensing board this weekto open Kamakura in downtown Boston.
Iwakura, currently ramen master at Snappy Ramen in Davis Square, has a music degree from Berklee, but owning his own restaurant is a childhood dream. The Japan native learned the ropes of the business with stints as a sushi chef, general manager, bartender, and executive chef at some of Boston’s best-known Japanese restaurants. He was chef de cuisine at Ken Oringer’s Uni, and was the opening chef at Basho in Fenway.
Youji Iwakura, whose popular ramen at Snappy Ramen in Somerville is just the tip of his culinary iceberg, is opening his own restaurant, Kamakura. As spotted by Boston Restaurant Talk and the Boston Hospitality and Tourism Industry blog via the Boston licensing board, the restaurant will be located at 150 State St. in downtown Boston, right by Faneuil Hall. (As Boston Restaurant Talk notes, local restaurateur Brian Lesser — Tavern Road, Sweet Cheeks, and more — had previously been looking at that space, but Iwakura tells Eater that while they’ve discussed the concept in the past, Lesser isn’t involved in the project at this time.)