A sad news reached us surprisingly at the beginning of March 2022:
"Toshi", the restaurant of our colleague & competitor Toshio Kobatake in Wurzererstr.18 in Munich, will close in mid-March!
The last evening at Toshi was very abruptly March 12, 2022.
As soon as there is something new from Toshi, you will find out in this article. First here a little Insightwhat the company has meant for Japanese cuisine in Munich and which Alternatives in Munich we can recommend.
Update November 2022: in the meantime Toshi has opened a new, small Izakaya - first impressions about it in the Articles about JapaTapa Toshibar.
A look back at an institution in Munich
Toshi was an institution in Munich for many years. Started at some point as "Tokami & Lechthaler L-Bar", the business was apparently sold in the early 2000s for a considerable sum by the then owner Rainer Kucklick (who will concern us in detail elsewhere) to Toshio Kobatake.
Toshio, called Toshi, like many other Japanese chefs from Germany, was one of the earlier chefs from the Daitokai Group, the early teppanyaki restaurants opened by Kikkoman/JFC in Germany and around the world.
Daitokai is now unfortunately history in Germany - in Toshi's restaurant in Wurzererstraße, a side street of Munich's Maximilianstraße, Teppanyaki lived on in Munich for a few more years.
Japanese taste instead of chic chic creations
We too have always enjoyed visiting Toshi to experience the diversity of Japanese cuisine, which is rarely possible in Munich.
Because unfortunately many noble and seemingly modern Japanese restaurants or sushi restaurants in the middle to higher price range in Munich are (at least from our point of view) pure window dressing.
And by the way, many of these restaurants mix sushi with other Asian cuisines and just not Japanese cuisine for a reason.
"Exciting" flavor combinations, modern sharing concepts deceive about the fact that often the cooks have no real sense for the real Japanese taste. Unfortunately, many people fall for this, especially in Munich. Stars and starlets make pilgrimages to restaurants that have little idea about Sushi & Sashimi have and seemingly present something new through supposedly modern interpretations of sushi.
Often, however, these restaurants are actually about a Simplification of the complicated Japanese handwork and for superficial effects through striking sauce combinations, etc. Thus, the normal guest does not even notice that the rice was not properly seasoned or the fish was not cut in the Japanese way.
For connoisseurs and true lovers of Japanese cuisine, it means that the number of genuine Japanese restaurants, to which we also privately liked to go again and again, became fewer and fewer in Munich.
Because chic restaurants where the rice is not even halfway properly seasoned and the fish is not cut with the right technique (the Taste often comes from cutting in Japanese cuisine), have nothing to do with Japanese food culture!
Even spicy or superficial flavors can't hide that fact, and the typical Japanese quality falls by the wayside.
Taste the variety of Japanese cuisine
The "Toshi", on the other hand, was almost a bastion of Japanese taste. There were menus here that were worthwhile and introduced the diversity of Japanese cuisine beyond sushi.
And at the same time, Toshi offered an extensive à la carte menu, which always included special ingredients such as Wagyu or Iberico pork - the latter virtually a trademark of Toshi.
Knowledgeably, Toshi has made a foray into Japanese cuisine offered, due to the typically Japanese skillfully selected sequence of aisles, the waiting time was kept within limits (a topic that German customers often do not understand, namely that and why Sushi takes its time).
Full house with sushi & teppanyaki
In earlier times, Toshi and his team sometimes had to serve up to 90 guests in the two rooms north and south of the central entrance.
Those who ordered teppanyaki could sit in front of the hot plate in the northern part of the restaurant to prepare it, watch, and then return to their table to eat.
And in the southern part of the restaurant were then distributed different seating arrangements such as high table, group table, counter, comfortable armchairs in front of the window. Behind the counter, in addition to younger chefs and Toshi, old acquaintances of the Munich sushi scene such as the musician and passionate singer Masami Saito worked again and again.
Toshi awarded and appreciated many times
Those who went to the basement passed wine cabinets with extensive selections, the staircase downstairs offered beautiful tableware from Japanese ceramics studio Kanta, and downstairs found walls full of awards for Toshi.
Some of them questionable, but many of them quite impressive: apparently Toshi was mentioned again and again in the Guide Michelin and Gault-Millau for years, and also in the GUSTO he had a stable number of pans over the years.
Even as Japanese Cuisine Goodwill Ambassador was awarded to Toshi in 2019 - an honor bestowed on only about 100 people worldwide outside Japan.
Tōkyō connoisseur Axel Schwab also held the toshi in high regard, in the South German Newspaper even called the best Japanese restaurant in Munich by far, all things considered.
We would basically agree with this assessment - the Toshi was recently the only restaurant that we could still regularly recommend to our guests in the restaurant sansaro with a clear conscience. (And of course we know all Japanese restaurants in Munich pretty good...)
Certainly, there have been some guests who have quibbled with individual details in Toshi - as is the case in any restaurant. In recent years, the space has looked a bit dated, the atmosphere sometimes melancholy, and some sushi rolls may not have been conceived or executed with ultimate passion for detail.
However, these minor shortcomings were something to get over, because overall Toshi offered (in our view) some of the best sushi in Munich, over a long period of time, coupled with a great selection from the diverse Japanese cuisine.
Not everyone can do that, offer authentic Japanese quality in Munich in the long term, that's a lifetime achievement in itself.
Because the Munich public likes to run after dazzling trends, and German restaurateurs quickly realize that ambience, obsequious service (which doesn't follow Japanese kitchen procedures and, above all, the Japanese understanding of warm hospitality ) count more with many guests than constant Japanese quality.
So lovers of fine (Japanese) cuisine can be really happy and grateful for every restaurant that still shows the elaborately produced, authentic Japanese quality in Munich!
At this point, we wish that in the future, Munich residents would get more of a sense for actual Japanese taste, develop more appreciation for authentic Japanese restaurants, and not always make a pilgrimage to the next supposedly posh restaurant with a kitchen trimmed for efficient production.
Offshoot Japatapa Noodle Bar
At times, there was even a small offshoot "Toshi Japatapa Noodle Bar" that tried its hand at being a sort of posh izakaya one cross street over.
We were there at the time of the opening and were thrilled, but after a few years, this experiment unfortunately had to be abandoned. Unfortunately, as of today (2020/2022), there is no really good izakaya in Munich, except for the very simple, but quite friendly J-Bar in the Maistrasse apart.
Why did the Toshi Munich close?
In recent years, however, it became quieter around Toshi, various rumors entwine around what exactly happened. Sometimes there was talk of problems with German authorities, some suspected that the "Ambience Blender Competition" Toshi from the business.
After all, since the existence of the Toshi have gradually around him the Matsuhisa (Nobu's posh system gastro chain). at the Mandarin Oriental, the Anoki (later Azuki, temporarily with the excellent cook Haruo Kato, who was for many years in the former Tenno (the current Teno and Tenno in Munich have nothing to do with this at all)) and the Koi (with Robata and at times the brilliant sushi master Yūri Yagawa) opened.
All these newer, more visually impressive and larger establishments have probably taken customers away from Toshi. And what is certain from our experience is that the people of Munich often confuse ambience with quality.
Another push then has the Corona crisis and - in our experience - the bavarian curfew 22h given. In the last two years, we have heard from some colleagues who had to give up, who could no longer buy good material. Especially a restaurant like Toshi is and was also dependent on tourists and on guests who have time for a menu after 8 pm. Both were made more difficult by the Corona crisis, nonsensical regulations and now the Ukraine crisis.
Either way, the Munich sushi scene loses a small institution after twenty years - we are very sad about it.
Future for Toshi: hopefully in Munich!
Toshi himself doesn't seem that sad when you talk to him.
He knows that he will have to work in some capacity for the rest of his life and has made his peace with that.
But if I did, it would be in a small operation, with only a few employees, because margins in the restaurant business are very, very thin and the risk is always high.
Toshi is nevertheless optimistic about the future, and if he is, so can we as his customers and fans of his cuisine. As soon as a restaurant opens somewhere, which is under his leadership or collaboration, we will be there, congratulate and taste - and of course inform you here.
Good Japanese cuisine in Munich - that is close to our hearts and we are always happy to report about it.
Alternatives in Munich to Restaurant Toshi
Alternatives to Toshi there are unfortunately hardly any in Munich. But you can find a few hints in our guide Sushi in Munich.
For sushi we recommend of course our Restaurant sansaro in the Amalienpassage, where we also attach importance to the highest quality and even as much as possible Organic shopping. There are also from time to time on special days Kaiseki-events, but they are always booked up quickly. Best subscribe to our newsletterto be informed whenever a special culinary event is available for booking.
And as promised: as soon as there is a new location where Toshio Kobatake works, we will write it here.
Do you have another tip or recommendation? We are pleased hear from you and are always looking forward to good Japanese cuisine in Munich.
Update: Toshi is working on a new location in Munich-Schwabing. Everything still looks a bit like a construction site, there is still a lot to do, but we can't wait to have a bit more real Japanese cuisine in Munich again! We report!
Update 2: Toshio Kobatake has opened the "JapaTapa Toshibar" on 11.10.2022!