Iyo Aalto — Milan, Italy
As the city of Milan swells year by year, so too does its increasingly cosmopolitan restaurant scene, with Japanese restaurants — from homespun cafes, to buzzy noodle bars and high-end sushi — leading the pack both in number and quality. The indisputable champion among them? Michelin-starred Iyo, which has been so successful, its creator Claudio Liu, has opened a second outpost in Porta Nuova, the city’s budding business centre.
Local architect Maurizio Lai has conceived a no-expensed-spared interior. Together with Poliform Contract, furniture and fittings are custom-made from a sleek palette of Canaletto walnut, Grigioverde Porphyry stone and brass. Cut roughly, the grey-green stone adds a grainy texture to the walls, which are punctuated with vertical slits to soften the stone’s intensity and introduce light. Lai then devised a monumental installation comprised of staggered layers of smoked, backlit glass to mark the entranceway, a motif that is carried through to the dining room in the form of a suspended grid of similarly illuminated panes. ’We used natural materials throughout to imbue the space with a welcoming, home-like feeling,’ Lai explains of the concept, which occupies the ground floor of a newly-constructed skyscraper.
Organised into two separate rooms, guests can choose between an eight-seater sushi counter or the 38-cover dining room, which serves an eclectic menu of Japanese bistro fare punched-up with European influences and ingredients. Offerings include dishes like seared tuna with wasabi and pak choi; eel, foie gras and kumquat; and Iberian pork with shallots and chingensai. This, along with a 1600-bottle wall-mounted wine cellar, designed to appease the strict Michelin standards, we suspect the stars will again be falling on Milan sometime soon.§