Enjoy the Gentle Experience
Gentle occupies two levels, with an Italian restaurant and bar on the 1st floor, and a sushi bar on the B1 level. The Italian restaurant described here is an open and relaxed space on the 1st floor, characterized by a high ceiling and large windows, with a classy atmosphere. It has a menu that lets people with diverse dietary habits enjoy dining together, and it greets its diners with features to excite and delight them. Welcome to Gentle!
A company manager living in Tokyo, who is a regular patron of Gentle, says “Gentle is a very convenient restaurant to use. It’s the first place I head to when friends visit from overseas, or after a meeting with work colleagues. Vegans and non-vegans alike can choose what they like. Depending on the preferences of the friends I’m with, we can keep the meal light and drink more, or dine heartily on meat and fish, whatever we feel like on the day” .
Staff are proud of their knowledge and their hospitality
At Gentle Italian restaurant, around half of the menu consists of Italian dishes of meat, fish, and other options, and half is vegan, so that people with different dietary habits can enjoy sitting around the same table. Diners can pick from 12 starters and 10 desserts that are brought to the table on wagons carrying the whole range. Staff who are proud of their knowledge and their hospitality can describe each dish, and often reveal their own erudition. They also serve out dishes at the table. Diners can enjoy the process of choosing before they eat, together with commentary from the staff, and that’s the most exciting part. Enjoy the Gentle Experience!
The origin of the name “Gentle”
The name reflects the desire to be a place where all guests will be able to enjoy comfortable and stress-free time together, because the restaurant offers food made solely with plant-based ingredients, alongside meat and fish dishes, so that vegetarians and vegans can eat with everyone else. Let’s take a look at some popular Gentle menu items.
Trout in their best season are cooked so that the skin is crisp while the flesh is rare and cherry-blossom pink. It is served with two sauces, a puree of green peas and a lemon-flavored cream. The accent of lemon zest on the combination of spring cabbage and dried tomato in this dish gives a feeling of spring.
Wild-grown boar from Shimane. Compared to farmed boar, the fat is lighter and the rich flavor of the meat is more concentrated. After being smoked over sakura wood chips, it is finished simply with salt and pepper, to deliver the true taste of the meat. A little kombu (kelp) powder is added for a subtle undertaste in this item, which succeeds in doubling the umami flavor of boar.
This is a vegan version of tomato mozzarella pasta. The vegan tomato sauce, using no butter, is mixed with seasonal vegetables (spring cabbage, green peas, asparagus, etc.) and soy milk cheese, which is a fermented food. It is served over fusilli made from brown rice. It’s a truly satisfying dish.
We talked to Gentle’s star chef, Toshiyuki Kato, and to Noriko Ishii, for whom hospitality is a vocation.
Toshiyuki KatoTrained as a French chef in Paris for three and a half years. Worked as head chef at Ogasawara-Hakushaku-Tei, Aoyama Laputa Garden, and Longing House, then joined Gentle as head chef when it opened in July 2019.
What is the key point for sourcing ingredients?
Kato: I choose each ingredient from the perspective of whether, from the moment a diner tastes it, it will make them healthier or sicker. I think that’s the value of an ingredient. I used to use expensive ingredients in order to make delicious things that would delight diners. But their bias in nutrition means that high-glass ingredients are not necessarily good. Now, I pay more attention to the best seasons for ingredients, and the farming and production methods used on them, and I want to serve food that people can have more confidence in.
When did you start thinking that way?
Kato: I personally got involved with the world of wellness 12 years ago, and I changed my key points for ingredient selection. I choose things that are naturally grown and non-toxic, without
chemicals and artificial fertilizers, and which become nutrients in the body to foster health. My mission is to serve Gentle’s patrons with the most delicious dishes, which are also made solely of healthful ingredients that they can eat with safety and peace of mind.
How do you develop recipes?
Kato: I am in charge of the overall balance of Gentle's menu, and the selection of items to oer. Recipe development is divided between Italian and vegan, and within the vegan side, I
think about dishes that incorporate aspects such as gluten free, anti-aging, macrobiotics, raw food, natural hygiene, and enzyme nutrients. I pay attention to ingredients and preparation method that will invigorate customers as soon as they taste them.
Noriko IshiiLived in Italy for two years, and has been in charge of service at Italian restaurants for 20 years. As a sommelier with an endless love for Italy, Ishii’s wine choices are highly regarded.
Tell us about this restaurant’s wines.
Ishii: We order wines from around the world, primarily Italy but also France, Spain, Portugal, Japan, and elsewhere. Organic white wine is popular. Increasing numbers of customers are highly aware of health, not just in what they eat, but also in drinks.
As a sommelier, what do you pay particular attention to, day by day?
Ishii: The thing that’s uppermost in my mind is building a relationship of trust with our customers. There is wine that make dishes taste better, and dishes that make the wine more enjoyable. Therefore, as a restaurant, we keep an extensive list of wines to complement the chefs’ cuisine. We take the lead in picking rare and valuable wines that people are passionate about. I really want them to try wines like that.
Is there any particular way to enjoy dining at Gentle?
Ishii: On the basement level, we have two private rooms for up to six diners each. In those, diners can order whatever they like, from both sushi and Italian. That’s rather popular.
What is your message to future customers?
Ishii: When you get here, please ask for Noriko by name. I speak Italian. I’m studying English, and I’ll do my best to create a comfortable place to spend time in. I provide hospitality that’s all around like the air, but reaches out to scratch every itch.