Restaurant weaves Japanese tradition and French culture for a delectable eating experience

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When one thinks of Japanese cooking, sushi often comes to mind first; but at MIFUNE in Midtown Manhattan, they’re turning to butter and fresh flowers, cream and seasonal fruit, and creating magic. 

Co-executive chefs Tomohiro Urata and Yuu Shimano both hail from Japan.

“I started cooking at 5, 6 years old with my mama. Then my father began teaching me how to cut the fish to make the sushi,” Urata said.

Urata and Shimano have a common interest – French cooking.  

Urata said is was the beautiful presentation that partially lured him to study in culinary school then work in several Michelin star restaurants in France.  

He first started his culinary school education in Osaka, Japan. He eventually landed in New York, at MIFUNE.   

The restaurant is named for the famed Japanese action-film star Toshiro Mifune, frequently credited with influencing modern-day star directors.

MIFUNE is on a quest for culinary excellence, earning coveted Michelin recognition in the U.S. 

“One.  Two!  Three!” Urata said gleefully, counting MIFUNE’s Micheline stars.

It’s all about French culture being woven with Japanese tradition.  

When PIX11 visited MIFUNE, the chefs seared fish and bathed it in butter, creating a collision of delectable flavors that danced on one’s palate. 

Shimano credits the genius to, “…my imagination.  It is my priority.”  It creates an eating experience that involved all the senses, making the heart as happy as the belly.  

No meal is complete without a sweet ending. 

Executive pastry chef Celia Lee shared with PIX11 that day’s delectable finish – a brown butter coconut cake with yogurt cream and golden kiwis. 

The team is only a few months out of what has been a death spiral for so many of their fellow restaurants. 

MIFUNE survived the pandemic by chopping lunch service, and keeping dinner to only what is known as an omakase menu, or chef’s choice. 

The chefs said whatever speaks to them at the market in the morning ends up as the inspiration for what’s on customers’ plates. 

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