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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Luke Mangan opens in Tokyo

Tokyo to get dose of Salt from star chef
First published in The Australian 1st February 2007
Peter Alford, Tokyo correspondent

Celebrity chef Luke Mangan always fancied himself opening the doors of a Salt in Manhattan and still does - but in the meantime he's found somewhere more expensive to relaunch his celebrated Sydney restaurant brand.

On April 27, Mangan will open Salt Tokyo on the sixth floor of the new Shin-Marunouchi Building. That's the most expensive floor space in the most expensive district of the world's second-most expensive central city district, after London.

"That says to me there are a lot of people with a lot of money around here," said Mangan. "It's why we've chosen this location. There's a lot of competition in this town but we're offering something different, a touch of Australia."

Mangan, who's in the happy position of having the venture staked by a deep-pocketed Japanese partner, is sparing no expense - $5.1million has been outlaid so far. His selling point is the best Australian produce, and that will entail shipments of fresh salmon, lamb, barramundi, oysters and the rest. Executive chef Shannon Binnie, who's been with Mangan and business partner Lucy Allon for the past decade, will run the kitchen and they plan to bring up to six Australian chefs.

The restaurant will seat close to 100 and an adjoining wine bar another 40. Though fully financed by Port Japan Partners, the business will stand or fall on whether Mangan's Australian style appeals to finicky Tokyo diners.

"It's we that have to make it work, it's not just a consulting gig. But we're pretty confident. We're looking at other places already," he said.


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