In the Land of the Rising Sun harmony and precision are everything, permeating almost all aspects of culture, including the realm of gastronomy. Having once experienced such sophistication in the homeland, one may think it’s unlikely to find an equivalent sensation overseas. Well, not in Paris. The French capital has long been a renowned hotbed of life’s finer things, and it’s in this receptive environment where multitasking creative Shinichiro Ogata has created a haven, or cultural embassy if you will, where the inimitable finesse of Japanese gastronomy and design is celebrated. Simply called OGATA, it’s tucked away in the Marais district’s maze of streets and alleyways, and occupies 800 sqm. (8,611 sq.ft.) set across four floors of a 17th-century hôtel particulier or townhouse. The founder’s expertise straddles a number of disciplines, and he all puts them to use, making OGATA an exceptional venue where to immerse oneself in Japanese culture by way of a restaurant, tea salon, boutique and an artisanal atelier.
Upon entering, guests and visitors find the themselves in a narrow but lofty entrance hall. At the end, on the left hand side, the venue’s boutique can be found. Faintly lit, it resembles a jewellery box, and sees walls clad in white shikkui plaster, hexagonal black floor tiles and a counter in the middle of the space and incorporates a block of black stone which extends into a display case presenting a variety of exquisite teas. Wall-mounted wooden drawers offer an additional 40 variations of Japanese tea. The other part of the store is dedicated to wagashi, or traditional Japanese confections, and here, the setting sees walls covered in pastry mold-shaped ceramics and a reddish-brown ceiling. The offerings comprise of freshly baked pastries and a large variety of candy and sweets. Opposite the boutique sits the atelier, a voluminous room with exposed walls and similar tiled flooring. Sleek modular shelving is paired with vintage furnishings, and all presenting OGATA‘s product designs. Called the S [es] Line, the collection comprises of over 200 products, applying the Japanese ancestral code to refine and redefine shapes and functions.
The restaurant is another exercise in simplicity. Seating a total of 50 guests, the setting sees a blend of woods such as teak, hiba and wengé, in addition to satin plaster, beige mortar and cut stone, creating a contrast with the brightness and spaciousness of the rest of the space. The adjoining private salon seat another ten guests. This is the territory of chef Kazuki Watanabe who proposes a gourmet menu of regional Japanese specialties, prepared in an open kitchen and using seasonal ingredients sourced from carefully selected producers and suppliers. Situated in a subterranean space is sabo, or tea salon, where amidst plastered walls, kurogaki wooden shelving and a large communal table, guests can engage in courses which elaborate on the traditional tea ceremony. Opening on OGATA‘s upper floors in the course of this year is galerie. a multifunctional space where a rotating programme of exhibitions will be held, ranging from culinary art and furniture, to contemporary art and product design. The expansion also comes with a another dining establishment and bar.
Images © OGATA
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