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A contemporary Japanese restaurant in Milan, IYO Aalto

Pure indulgent deliciousness

IYO Aalto presents dazzling Japanese cuisine that goes beyond the boundaries of fineness. It offers a dual experience allowing diners to get immersed in authentic Japan: the sushi counter, which for a few guests recreates the magic and rigour of the Edomae-sushi model of Tokyo, and the gastronomic restaurant that fuses the rich heritage of the traditions of the Rising Sun with contemporary flair and visionary ambition. IYO Aalto is a culinary symphony that impressively captures the beauty and complexities of Japanese cuisine.

IYO Aalto is the second restaurant of Claudio Liu, founder of IYO Taste Experience, the first Japanese restaurant in Italy to be awarded a Michelin star. Delivering an exciting dining experience, IYO Aalto features the most authentic Japanese cuisine in Milan – a concept that is smartly expressed through distinct yet cohesive ambiences of the restaurant: the sushi counter (Sushi Banco), which reproduces, for a select few, the magic and rigour of Tokyo’s traditional Edomae Sushi (or Edomae-zushi), and the gastronomic restaurant (Ristorante Gastronomico) that blends the immense heritage of Japanese culture and cuisine with European influences and ingredients, underscored by a contemporary edge and a creative ambition. The eclectic menus are expertly matched with wines from the 1,600-bottle wall-mounted cellar.

The intimate sushi room accommodates eight diners at a Canaletto walnut counter accented by black elm bar stools upholstered in leather. The 38-seat dining room comprises wooden tables with brass inlays and a glass-clad ceiling. The bustling open kitchen serves as the nucleus of the interior, enclosed in glass to showcase the action throughout the dining experience.

The ultra-stylish interior design is defined by the architect’s exclusive, yet pared-down palette of materials and hues – such as grey-green porphyry of the Trentino quarries, Canaletto walnut – as well as by cutting-edge lighting technology and a host of small other details.

Housed inside the landmark skyscraper of Torre Solaria, IYO Aalto overlooks the square Alvar Aalto and is graced with large windows and sweeping city views.

Revealing a visionary mastery, IYO Aalto showcases the perfect union between the past, the present and the future. Exuding class and gastronomic excellence, diners will be in for both a culinary and visual treat.

DÉCOR & INTERIOR DESIGN

Defined by great style and class, the invitingly elegant restaurant is thoughtfully and tastefully conceived by Italian architect Maurizio Lai with a decisive aesthetic sensibility that gives a respectful nod to traditional and contemporary Japanese culture. With a luxuriously comfortable, no-expense-spared interior, Lai has masterly combined artisan craft and refined modernity.

Stylishness, lightness and rigour are the qualities notable in the design. Subtle references to tradition give way to a contemporary and pure design language, conceiving a place where light and noble materials merge into a stylish narrative. The resulting discreet traditional references, modern and clean design aesthetics, and the interplay of materiality and tonality create a stunning, harmonious entity.

Image collage of dishes at restaurant IYO Aalto

The design captures the essence of smart-looking elegance with a combination of fine materials like wood, stone, brass and leather, which give a lot of warmth and sophistication to the spaces. Ethereal, imperceptible and fluid, the generous employment of glass further enhances the design’s overall beauty.

The walls, never continuous, define and delimit spaces without ever completely isolating them: like the imposing central partition in slabs, flanked by brushed surfaces and void parts. The rooms’ transparency makes them permeable to the eye not only from the inside but also from Piazza Alvar Aalto, consolidating the connection between the restaurant and the city. Furnishing, joinery, glassware and stoneworks were entirely custom-made and produced in collaboration with Poliform Contract.

As a proud prelude to IYO Aalto’s timelessly refined interior, the beautiful entrance hall, graced with a striking luminous installation made of staggered layers of smoked, backlit glass, offers a fine welcome. This stunning design solution displays an interplay of translucence and opacity, sparkle and subtle sheen.

IYO Aalto has been articulated to offer a dual gastronomic offering – there is an exquisite Sushi Banco, grounded in the Edomae tradition, whilst the exclusive Gourmet Restaurant serves imaginative contemporary cuisine. The 320m2 space also embraces a striking 1,600-bottle wine glass display case – one of the largest ever built: 3.5-metre-by-10-metre, while the kitchen is enclosed in a glass case, is a hi-tech jewel. For al fresco enjoyment, there is an exterior patio of 100m2.

The formal precision of the IYO Aalto enables its spaces to be sophisticatedly combined yet subtly separated. Between the Sushi Banco and the Gourmet Restaurant, a glass display case holding ancient sake barrels contributes handsomely to the permeability of the spaces. Split-finish porphyry slabs, extracted in Trentino from the only quarry in the world to have this unique variety, also make up the partition that visually separates the areas.

The Sushi Banco is an intimate area for only eight guests who can experience the Japanese Edomae Zushi culture: a set of rituals that has its roots in the Bunsei era (1818-1830), where the sequence of nigiri are prepared in front of the diners.

The dining counter is made from Canaletto walnut wood, with worktop and plates in smooth grey-green porphyry. The space maintains a timelessly alluring style, featuring classy seats with a black elm structure and a leather-coloured custom-made cladding.

Designed to accommodate a maximum of 38 seats, the Gourmet Restaurant features a sophisticated and refined ambience.

The high-style dining of the Gourmet Restaurant is decorated with handsome Canaletto walnut panelling. The ceiling is embellished with illuminated sheets of float glass – a reference to classic coffered ceilings, and reinterpreted by Maurizio Lai for a contemporary aesthetic. The fine wood flooring is adorned with small brass inlays. Lofty windows keep the interiors light and airy, whilst framing the cityscape views.

The lighting is multi-layered, providing an appropriately refined atmosphere for such a polished restaurant. Spotlights illuminate the wood tables and create a dazzling aura. Luxurious leather seating reflects the restaurant’s stylish, sophisticated ethos.

The kitchen, at the forefront of technology and the beating heart of the restaurant, was conceived with the same principles as the design excellence of the dining rooms. An avant-garde showpiece in glass and steel, it adds a hint of theatre to the decadent dining experience.

GASTRONOMY

IYO Aalto offers complementary aspects of its approach to Japanese cuisine: the Sushi Banco and the Ristorante Gastronomico, incarnating the Edomae tradition of Tokyo on the one hand, and the authenticity of contemporary Japan on the other.

Diners at IYO Aalto can look forward to savouring top-notch artistic and culinary creations that are presented in a refined and aesthetic way.

The elegant and classy ambience sets the perfect vibe for the beautiful food at the Gastronomic Restaurant. Exceptional cuisine and excellent wine make it an absolute delight and an experience in itself.

The Ristorante Gastronomico is headed by Domenico Zizzi, a talented chef from Apulia, who returned to Italy after a 5-year period in Japan where he honed his skills alongside some of the greatest international chefs such as Heinz Beck and Carme Ruscalleda. Chef Zizzi’s precise techniques showcase the ingredients’ quality, using creative methods and combinations to produce unique dishes.

The delicious cuisine – inspired by Japan and its extraordinary heritage of techniques and produce – is re-interpreted and enhanced with a creative twist.

Collage of images of the interior design and decoration at IYO Aalto Japanese restaurant in Milan

The focus is on cooking without borders, highlighting Chef Zizzi’s passion for bringing multicultural flavours to his Japanese kitchen. Great attention to techniques and research on the raw material that combines typical Japanese produce such as mentaiko, nagaimo, yuzukosho and wagyu with food from all over the world such as Spanish peppers ñoras, Mexican amaranth or Comacchio eel.

Delivering an authentic, exciting and ambitious experience, the outstanding cuisine speaks to modern themes of fresh, vibrant ingredients and beautiful presentation.

For an extraordinary culinary experience, the Gastronomic Restaurant offers a sublime tasting menu that is authentic, modern and innovative. It emphasises seasonality, the quality of ingredients, a high level of complexity, and a dazzling procession of faultless plates composed with stunning flair. The à la carte options are nothing short of exquisite as well. Offerings may include dishes like seared tuna with wasabi and pak choi; eel, foie gras and kumquat; and Iberian pork with shallots and chingensai.

The Sushi Banco, an intimate place for only eight guests, raises the bar of authentic Japanese cuisine in Milan. This is where the spirit of the Japanese Edomae sushi tradition – an ancient technique rarely found outside Tokyo and Japan – comes alive.

Sushi Master Masashi Suzuki demonstrates his vast knowledge of Edomae Sushi (or Edomae-zushi), adding a deeper richness to this unmissable dining experience. He never loses sight of his objective: to prepare the finest specialities where taste goes beyond beauty.

Sushi chef of Edomae-zushi tradition, the oldest and strictest school, is both sushi master at the IYO Aalto and supervisor for IYO Taste Experience’s Sushi Counter.

Crafted to exacting standards, the Edomae sushi tradition – a set of rituals rooted in the Bunsei era (1818-30) at the end of the Edo period (Edo is the ancient name of Tokyo) – is the oldest and strictest school.

A meticulous ritual, rigorously following principles such as seasonality, the daily selection of the most delicate fish available, the special attention to the importance of rice and the greatest care in preparation, Edomae sushi is such a rare treat.

Nigiris are the real speciality of the Sushi Banco’s culinary experience, and they are served following a progressive taste journey through oiliness and umami. The elaborate meal is a parade of delicious dishes, interspersing pristine sushis with authentic Japanese cooked delicacies, either steamed or grilled robatayaki, silently smouldering behind the sushi masters. All courses are prepared in front of the guests who can admire the shokunin’s mastery up close and interact directly with him.

WINES & SERVICE

The two gastronomic experiences – the Gastronomic Restaurant and the Sushi Banco – are accompanied by a curated selection of wines, sake, tea, spirits, Japanese liqueurs and whiskeys.

Diners will enjoy the stellar recommendations  by Savio Bina, one of the best and most experienced Italian sommeliers. The wine list carries 600 listings, with a focus on Burgundy, sparkling wines, champagne and biodynamic wines.

The bespoke, wall-mounted wine cellar is a show-stopping piece of art. The glass-enclosed cellar is one of the largest ever made: it can store up to 1,600 bottles, providing six different temperature zones.

WHY GO

Immersed in an elegant, international atmosphere, IYO Aalto combines Japanese techniques and aesthetics with international ingredients and modern flavours to create an avant-garde yet timeless synthesis. Dining here is pure indulgent deliciousness from start to finish.

aalto-restaurant.com

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