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Where to Stay on the Left Bank and an Exquisite Ryokan in Japan
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Last fall, just after London emerged from its first lockdown, an early-19th-century landmark in Belgravia was having a coming-out party of its own. Pantechnicon, the five-story Doric-columned former furniture bazaar on Motcomb Street, made its debut as an emporium selling the most covetable handpicked Japanese and Nordic goods. Everything inside—from brass jewelry by Finnish designer Fay Andrada to tangerine-hued Tokyobikes for kids—has been curated by the whip-smart Shu Terase (formerly of Monocle) to bring cult favorites to a new audience. On the ground floor, a beautiful paper-thin ceramic bowl by 1616/Arita catches the eye. In the beauty section, jars of silken Makanai yuzu hand cream and neat bottles of Henrik Vibskov’s Cedar Root cologne take shoppers on an olfactory journey through Asia. Even household chores are elevated by the shop’s wares, with pruning shears and flower scissors by Niwaki and washi treasure boxes crafted by traditional paper studio Keijusha.
The Nordic and Japanese aesthetics extend to Pantechnicon’s dining. At Eldr, the New Nordic restaurant dressed in blond wood and exposed brick, chef Joni Ketonen makes dishes like beef tar-tare with roe and scallops with mussel sauce and reindeer. An outpost of Paris’s Café Kitsuné offers mid-shopping snacks and coffee, but for something stronger, head to the rooftop garden for a dill-and-apple cocktail (made with aquavit, green-apple shrub, and cider) or to Sakaya for a sampling of Japanese whiskies, sakes, and umeshu. This spring, James Beard Award winner Nancy Singleton Hachisu will open Sachi, a fine dining restaurant focusing on Japanese market ingredients; the Sachi Yatai kiosk in the dining arcade will serve Tokyo-style street food like gyozas and taiyaki ice cream.
Meanwhile, in Paris, architect and designer Shinichiro Ogata has brought saho—the Japanese art of being—to the Marais with Ogata. As with Pantechnicon, the 17th-century structure in which the new shop is located was once an artisan’s supply store. Under Ogata’s guidance, it has blossomed into a four-story complex, bringing together the cuisine and artistry of Japan.
The epicenter of Ogata is a tearoom paved in black hexagonal tiles, where rare gyokuro leaves are delicately roasted and ceremoniously presented on a hand-hammered copper counter resembling the ancient chazutsu tea canisters of Kyoto. The shop itself is packed with hundreds of pieces for the home, from a suiteki copper-and-brass sauceboat to a gossamer white cup made in Arita, the cradle of Japanese porcelain. Upstairs, a 15-seat bar—which serves cocktails based on the five senses using ingredients such as yellow kiwi and clementine—is connected by a wooden walkway to the restaurant where chef Kazuki Watanabe blends Japanese precision with French ingredients. Creations like the donabe nikujaga (a Japanese version of pot-au-feu) slowly meld together in an earthenware pot to take diners on a long-overdue journey to a place far, far away.