In the Torre Solaria, in Porta Nuova, there is now a place worthy of the best Japanese in London or New York for location, kitchen, service, cellar. With a sushi counter and a restaurant where omakase and fusion are celebrated. We will tell you
The first thought that came to mind upon entering Iyo Aalto, the new club of Claudio Liu is that twelve years have passed since – 24 years old together with the brothers Giulia and Marco, who then became patrons in their turn – opened Iyo Taste Experience. A restaurant that season after season has grown to the point of entering the small great history of cooking: in 2015 it became the first ethnic cuisine venue to win a Michelin star, which it still maintains. For years, Liu – Italian of Chinese origin – felt the need to raise the level further and in love with Japanese cuisine, decided to focus on the theme with Iyo Aalto, teaches that in the name it combines the historical one with the location in Piazza Alvar Aalto, on the first floor of the Torre Solaria, the tallest residential skyscraper in Italy, with its 143 meters and 34 floors. "If they had asked me to decide where to open my second place, I would have chosen this corner of Milan," says Claudio. And it is difficult to blame him, considering that the square dedicated to the Finnish designer is already high compared to the street level and therefore from the windows of the new restaurant, the view is suggestive.
Large room, large cellar
The restaurant – like all the one of the Liu family – is very nice, designed by architect Maurizio Lai. A layout that is divided into 320 square meters divided between sushi counter, lounge, outdoor area, kitchen and the large wall-mounted cellar, which can accommodate up to 1,600 bottles from all over the world – with six different temperature zones – including those of Japanese spirits and whiskeys. Savio Bina, one of the best and most experienced Italian sommeliers, takes care of it. The references to the millenary tradition of Japanese catering alternate with contemporary elements and unprecedented design. Gray green porphyry and canaletto walnut wood dominate. The porphyry slabs with split finish, coming from the only quarry in the world of Trentino, make up the septum that separates the restaurant room from the sushi counter, visually distinguishing the two proposals. The wood covers the boiserie and the ceilings create a warm and sophisticated atmosphere. The details in glass, brass and natural leather characterize and enliven the rooms. Particular attention was paid to lighting project – where light becomes an important element of the story – to enhance the wood, stone and glass surfaces and create different light scenarios for each table.
Edomae zushi applies
The sushi counter is the fulfillment of a desire cultivated for a long time by the patron: to give life, in a symbolic place of New Milan, to a ritual that is found only in Japan: for a few close friends (eight, by reservation only) the spirit is celebrated dell 'edomae zushi, which has its roots in the Bunsei era (1818-30) or the final phase of the Edo period (which in Japanese means Tokyo). In the omakase edomae, the nigiri are prepared in front of the guest and served one at a time according to a progressive sequence of fatness and umami. It is a rich journey, which alternates between express sushi at intervals of authentic Japanese 'cooked cuisine', whether steamed or grilled robatayaki, which smokes silently behind the sushi master Masashi Suzuki and Luciano Yamashita. A rigorous ritual, which obeys fundamental factors such as seasonality, the daily selection of the finest fish, spasmodic attention to rice – which cannot be relegated to a simple complement – the intolerances and idiosyncrasies of each guest. We sat at the counter: for quality of food, care in preparation and creativity – after a few weeks of work – we are close to perfection. And the three hours fly between bites.
The chef is from Puglia (but from the world)
The second environment is a real one gourmet restaurant, with 38 seats, in which the boundless patrimony of Japanese cuisine is filtered by the Apulian chef Domenico Zizzi, a talent that the patron brought back to Italy after five years spent in Japan. The starting point are the products and the 'ways' of the Rising Sun, freely interpreted, through the experience gained alongside great names in the kitchen such as Joël Robuchon, Carme Ruscalleda and Heinz Beck, to create a kitchen without borders. There is a great deal of technical and research work on the raw material alongside it japanese products such as mentaiko, nagaimo, yuzukosho and wagyu a foods from all over the world like Spanish ñoras peppers, Mexican amaranth or Comacchio eel.
The three tasting – Hitotoki (eight courses at 120 euros), Yasuragi (ten at 135 euros), Ukiyo (thirteen at 150 euros) – they express a linear and harmonious synthesis, true an increasingly cosmopolitan and interconnected cuisine, which from the heart of Japan moves towards Europe. And here too it is poetry: Scampi, apples and amaranth; Wagyu, aubergines, black garlic and yuzukosho; Dashi, 12 cereals and cucumber tsukemono; Anguilla, nagaimo and sansho; Nitrogen yogurt, nut crumble and meringue. Well done everyone, very good Claudio Liu: commitment, passion, class. With Iyo Aalto it's not just him to make yet another qualitative leap in an already remarkable career, but Milan that can boast a Japanese who lives up to London or New York.