Like his brother Hisao, Hisato Nakahigashi is undoubtedly one of Japan’s greatest chefs. Few will fault the sensational obanzai (delicatessen) dishes based on wild herbs and seasonal vegetables that have become both their trademarks.

See more of Oku Cafe in Kyoto
So while the fare served up at his understated Oku café is expectantly divine, the unsung hero of Oku is ceramicist Shojiro Endo, whose clever tabletop ware is the talk of Kyoto, with some visiting from miles away just to buy a plate or teapot.
Set in an 80-year-old machiya townhouse in Gion, the red-light district of the ancient capital, Oku is an intimate find that possesses a few quirky touches; Patricia Urquiola’s Glove chairs and flower sinks make a surprise appearance.