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By Elisabeth Sherman
Updated July 05, 2017
Credit: Courtesy of the Park Hyatt Tokyo

Driving into Tokyo from Narita airport can be an overwhelming experience: As your taxi swoops down into the city along a curving highway, you watch as the sprawling skyline stretches beyond the horizon. Clusters of buildings are balanced precariously on every inch of the island’s free space. With each glimpse of a succession of side-streets leading to neighborhoods holding secret pleasures. It becomes apparent to a newcomer to Tokyo that experiencing even a fraction of what you see before you will be near-impossible task.

How do you choose where to go and what to eat? Where do you begin to learn about a culture that would take more than a lifetime to understand?

The Park Hyatt Masters of Food and Wine events try to help answer some of those questions.

The Masters of Food and Wine series launched at the hotel chain in 2003. The events take place for one weekend twice a year at each of the hotel’s 40 locations around the world, in places like Melbourne, Shanghai, Chicago, and of course, Tokyo.

They’re a primer on the very best food and chefs in their respective cities, and will take participants on a culinary tour of the country’s culture. In Tokyo this past April, the Park Hyatt’s first Masters of Food and Wine event, held at the hotel’s Japanese restaurant, Kozue, featured a sake tasting with Mr. Heizo Isawa, owner of the 300-year-old Katsuyama Brewery paired with a menu from Kozue’s chef Kenichiro Ooe.

The next Masters events take place in October: The first is the Katsunuma Koshu Wine Excursion, which will take 18 guests on an adventure to the Katsunuma winery in Japan’s Yamanashi Prefecture. There, they will tour the vineyards, taste the wine, and eat BBQ prepared the chefs at the home of Mr. Yuji Aruga, the owner of the winery.

Although the next event isn’t yet decided, you might have the opportunity to experience dinner at the New York Grill. There, Executive Chef Steffan Heerdt has created a menu that celebrates Western cuisine in Japanese style. On the evening I had the pleasure of dining at the Grill, dinner included a cut of the restaurant’s exceptionally tender, buttery beef, which comes from cows that are fed rice and quinoa, caviar from a sturgeon gifted by Russia 34 years ago, and even ultra-creamy locally made burrata, a delicacy you might not expect to see in Japan, but appears on your plate none-the-less.

Given the complexity of the city, the depth and richness of its food scene, not to mention the language barrier, Tokyo can be an intimidating place to visit. The Park Hyatt’s Masters of Food and Wine takes the stress out of what should be a life-altering experience: They hope to give visitors a taste of the luxury Tokyo has to offer with food that you can be sure is true to not just the traditions of Japan, but it’s creativity and penchant for innovation, as well. You’ll enjoy the height of culinary perfection under the guidance of a staff that will show you the way to the heart of Tokyo, one incredible dish at a time.