May 17, 2024

Restaurant Naz

TAEKO TERAO Contributing writer

A young restaurant leads the way in Karuizawa

Immediately after it opened in September 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Restaurant Naz became the focus of attention. As of this March, this restaurant with only eight table seats was fully booked until the summer of 2025. It is located in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, near the city of Saku, and situated on the grounds of Green Seed Karuizawa, a condominium-style resort hotel located 20 minutes by car from Karuizawa Station.

Owner-chef Natsuki Suzuki grew up in Saku. He used to catch funa (crucian carp) on his way home from school and simmer or grill the fish himself. After completing junior high school, he worked in a local pizzeria and went on to study pizza-making in Naples. At age 25, he traveled to Denmark and honed his skills at Noma and Kadeau, two of the era’s iconic restaurants. When he returned to Japan in March 2020 due to pandemic lockdowns, he went around visiting producers in his hometown. With a renewed appreciation for the appeal of local ingredients, he resolved to open his own restaurant in Karuizawa.

The flavors and colors of local ingredients shine in Suzuki’s creative and elaborate dishes. These include an appetizer of fried mochi incorporating locally harvested organic yomogi (Japanese mugwort) and topped with caviar, Shinshu salmon aged for 10 days and smoked (the restaurant’s signature dish) and Suzaka fresh sōmen noodles in a broth made from Saku carp raised in spring water. Neither Italian nor Japanese, this course menu is a type of cuisine that is free of constraints and categories. A meal, including pairing with beverages, costs around ¥50,000 ($340).

With visitors from all over the country, Restaurant Naz is contributing to the strengthening of Karuizawa’s reputation as a town of gastronomy.

Green Seed Karuizawa, 134-3 Oiwake, Kitasaku-gun Karuizawa-machi, Nagano Prefecture

Shuichi Abe
Governor of Nagano Prefecture

I would like to congratulate Restaurant Naz for being selected for the Destination Restaurants 2023 list. Embracing 3,000-meter-high mountains, Nagano is blessed with fresh air and clean water that nurture a rich variety of food products. I would like to express my sincere respect to chef Natsuki Suzuki for his dedication to local ingredients and his excellent fermentation techniques that bring out the best in local ingredients. I hope that this award will be an opportunity for many people to visit Naz and our prefecture.

Michio Tsuchiya
Mayor of Karuizawa

We are delighted that Restaurant Naz has been selected for the Destination Restaurants 2023 list.

Karuizawa is located about one hour from Tokyo by shinkansen and is one of Japan’s leading international resort areas, attracting 7.7 million visitors a year from Japan and overseas. The chef’s original fermented cuisine using local ingredients is sure to attract visitors.

We hope this award will encourage even more people to come and enjoy chef Natsuki Suzuki’s cuisine and the town of Karuizawa.

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