When talking about Japanese cuisine unadon (grilled eel on rice), hitsumabushi (local eel dish from Nagoya) should to be mentioned. Situated in a downtown area in Beijing, “Ao Man (傲鳗)” is a hitsumabushi restaurant with high reputation. Its dining environment was transformed into a Japanese small town by the designer Golucci International, harkening to a rustic and tranquil lane in Nagoya when guests enjoy their meal.
In order to create a homelike environment, the diners are asked to take off the shoes and change to slippers at the entrance. Getting into the restaurant, one notices immediately a series of lockers along the wall to store the shoes; its vintage style coincides with the old Japan. The right side of the entrance is the open kitchen to cook eel, which shows the charm of Unadon to the diners at the beginning of the journey. Fragrant eel and half-concealed curtains urge diners to enter the restaurant to have a taste.
The corridor of the restaurant is reminiscent of the tranquil lanes in old Japanese village. A series of elements, such as open channel on both sides of the lane, overhanging eaves and wooden structure, was introduced to this space to remind one of the stories of Japan.
Walking through the lane, guests arrive at an open dining area, the canopies of which associate with the Japanese ancient timber structure. While all other elements are lined with warm-toned wood, the sloping roof is built out of metal against others to create a sharp contrast. Diners will experience their meals on tatami with the scenery of the city.
Sashimi kitchen is surrounded by the open dining area. So diners can watch the cooking process when they enjoy their meals. The open kitchen encourages interaction between the chef and the guests. Diverse structures inject the corridor space with a sophisticated ambience and thus make the space more interesting. Different from the design of the dining area, the structure of the sashimi kitchen, which refers to the Japanese traditional public building, has been designed more complex to attract diners’ eyes.
Keeping moving on, one comes to the area for the private dining rooms with something different. Overlapped eaves, stagger private dining rooms and tortuous corridor prevent the space from being taken in everything at a glance. Partly visual obstruction encourages guests explore the full extent of the space.
Same language continues into the interior decoration of the private dining room, where the wall is covered by sheets of wooden veneer. Wood as the main material is applied to the whole room and the purity of the space impels diners focus on the delicious unadon.