Born in Osaka into a family of chefs, Taniguchi trained in French cuisine first in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, and then in France. Back in Japan, he was picked to helm a restaurant inside a new riverside resort in the countryside of Toyama Prefecture.
From the moment he arrived in 2010, he was smitten, not so much by the setting, though the backdrop of the snow-capped Tateyama mountain range rising behind the coastal plain can be stunning by the quality of the local ingredients available to him.
Cuisine Regionale L’evo, from the French word for “evolution”.
Chef Eiji Taniguchi’s remarkable restaurant lies high in the mountains, a two-hour-plus drive from Toyama City through forests, past lakes, and up narrow winding roads until it feels like you can go no further.
For the location alone, it is absolutely worth the adventure. Built on a craggy outcropping, L’evo looks up a narrow canyon towards a massive rock wall deep in the Hida Mountains. Surrounded by verdant forest in summer and covered under a thick blanket of snow in winter, the only sound to be heard is the constant rushing of the fast-running Toga River along the valley floor.
For guests, it’s the ideal setting for a tranquil gastronomic getaway. But for Taniguchi, it’s the realization of a long-held dream, an expression of the strong affinity he feels for this rugged region of Japan.
Taniguchi regularly forages for ingredients in the forests surrounding the restaurant and has built a network of collaborators who share the best from their farms, breweries, and vineyards. The restaurant also features cutlery, crockery, and serving dishes created by local artists. Depending on the season, fatty winter yellowtail (buri), firefly squid, red queen crabs, foraged mushrooms, and organically raised vegetables feature on the menu. The result is creative dishes inspired by nature; one favorite dessert is inspired by the snowy Tateyama mountains. The dining room opens onto the Jinzu river, setting the tone for an experience that feels otherworldly, yet solidly grounded in the beauty of Toyama.
Restaurant web site: https://levo.toyama.jp/restaurant/
Restaurant address: 100 Tanoshima, Togamura-Daikanba, Nanto-city, Toyama pref. 939-2518 Japan