Pizza Studio Tamaki

1 Chome-24-6 Higashiazabu, Minato Ku, Tokyo, 106-0044, Japan

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This restaurant opened in March 2017, a quiet side street of Minato Ku, the tiny frontage of the place having doors that open out completely on to the street and fold away, leaving a completely open space. The view is over a triangular grassy area where people park their bicycles in considerable numbers. The restaurant is small, with just a few tables arrayed around the huge pizza oven. The seating is bar stools rather than chairs, so this is not somewhere designed for lingering.

The oven, designed by Mr Tamaki to be lower in height than traditional Naples ovens, operates at 480C, and the pizzas are cooked in 50-60 seconds. The chef keeps the pizza much closer to the flames of the oven than is normal; that seems to be his particular style. At the last moment he adds a few Japanese cedar chips to the flames, giving an extra smoky note to the pizza. Tsubasa Tamaki trained under a pizzaiola called Susumu Kakinuma, a pioneer of Neapolitan pizza in Tokyo, whose restaurant Seirinkan has been operating in one form or another since 1995. After working there he opened a pizza joint called Pizza Strada, which is still in operation, prior to moving here. The tomatoes and mozzarella used here are imported from Italy but other ingredients such as the basil are local, the salt being from Okinawa, where the chef was born. The flour mix used is a trade secret.

We tried several pizzas. An olive pizza was particularly good, the Spanish olives excellent and generous in quantity. Nduja pizza was suitably spicy, as was a diavola, and was a vegetarian "Tamaki" pizza using smoked mozzarella. All had superb crust, the edges tinged with little bubbles of char, the bases thin and pliable. These pizzas were as good as you will find anywhere. It is tricky to score something a simple as pizza, but there was real skill here and am going to nudge this into 14/20 territory, which is more than I would usually score a pizza.

Mr Tamaki was very friendly and speaks quite good English; he was happy to chat about the various aspects of the pizzas, about which he exudes enthusiasm. The bill came to £39 a head, but that was with wine. A pizza is typically about £14 here, depending on the exact one you order. If you just had a pizza, appetizer and a beer then a typical cost per head might be about £25.

The Japanese seem to be culturally well suited to taking something existing and gradually, incrementally improving it (such as their ultra reliable cars, or indeed the train system, which is the best in the world). This same approach seems to be taken here, with Mr Tamaki taking the well-established Naples pizza, and by reexamining every aspect of the process of how it is made, gradually improving it, one pizza at a time.

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  • Amy Lane

    We met Tamaki-san when he was training to be a pizzaolo at Savoy Pizza - where he was enthusiastic, welcoming and wonderful. I recommend that everyone go to Pizza Studio Tamaki! Try the lemoncello - not only is he a pizza expert, this man makes the most delicious lemoncello in town.