Luxury après hiking or skiing combined with light food – we visited The Japanese by The Chedi Andermatt, the highest-located Japanese gourmet restaurant in Switzerland
It has to be somewhere around here?!? Did I really drive past the five star deluxe hotel The Chedi Andermatt? One of the Leading Hotels of the World? Yes, I did!
In return, my mobile companion stands out all the more. The Audi RS Q3 Sportback in turbo blue really attracts attention. I have been under its spell from the first ride on. The 400 horsepower vehicle smoothly glides up the serpentines of the Swiss Alps. Just up the winding Oberalpstrasse and there I am. I expected a conspicuous entrance or an oversized sign. But everything is quiet and reserved, like the wonderful Switzerland itself.
Just up the winding Oberalpstrasse and there I am. I expected a conspicuous entrance or an oversized sign. But everything is quiet and reserved, like the wonderful Switzerland itself.
I drive into the unobtrusive entrance of the luxury temple. Chedi simply translates as temple in Thai. “What a lovely shade of blue! Welcome” the porter beams at me. The welcome is warm and anything but stiff. I am standing in front of a house with wood panelling, which adapts wonderfully to the surrounding nature. We are already at an airy height of 1447 meters. I enter the house, which is minimalist from the outside. Inside, an Asian oasis of peace opens up to me, which has not neglected its alpine charm. Building elements such as natural stone and wood dominate the reduced interior design, which is not at all oppressive due to the very high ceilings. Here, too, the alpine Asian theme runs through.
A wonderful experience in the mid of the Swiss alps. Luxury, recreation and adventure!
The receptionist smiles at me: “It’s great that you are our guest! You are already expected up on the mountain.” By up there he means The Japanese by The Chedi Andermatt, which opened in December 2019. My destination is the Andermatt’s local mountain Gütsch at 2300 meters above sea level in a gondola. This kind of road trip into the mountains is a delight for my eyes – snow-covered peaks as far as my eyes can see. The hut already appears on the horizon. A modern stone and wood construction, as if grown out of the rock. I climb out of the gondola. The entrance is not even 10 steps away.
The interior is reduced to the essentials and modern, akin to a Feng Shui principle. Nothing is too little or too much. Everything is in balance. Executive Chef Dietmar Sawyere is already working on his creations behind the counter along with his sushi masters. In 2016 he took over the kitchen at The Japanese Restaurant in the house. Just one year later, under his leadership, it was awarded a star by Guide Michelin and 16 points by Gault Millau.
Daniel Merk, manager of the highest Japanese restaurant in Switzerland and Sake Sommelier, accompanies me to my table on the terrace. I find a wonderful place next to the bar with a view of the mountains. A cool breeze is blowing and the sun is shining. It was brave to open a Japanese gourmet restaurant at this altitude right next to a ski slope. “We simply transferred our concept from the house ‘upwards’. After we opened our doors we were literally overrun.
This combination of luxury après ski, live pitcher party with DJ on the terrace and light cuisine is very well received by our guests. We were also rewarded with 14 points by Gault Millau. You must certainly be hungry by now!” Daniel smiles while he pours me a Genmaicha. I am hungry indeed. The fresh mountain air is to blame … And of course the curiosity about the cuisine, which is also known outside the Swiss borders and is very popular. For a few weeks, guests sometimes have to wait for a table, because the demand is very high. The restaurant only has 38 seats, the terrace 34. First Come First Serve – fair play is written in capital letters.
I learn a lot about Japanese cuisine during the courses. Their sushi master also comes from Japan. “When he started with us we found him despairing in the kitchen during the evening. He told us that he was sad because he hadn’t done a good job. We were surprised at his reaction and asked how he arrived at that conclusion?!? He pointed to the half-full plates, which conveyed to him that the guests did not like the food. We had to explain to him that this was not the case in Europe. In Japan, people eat their plates clean out of respect for the kitchen. Here in Europe … well …” This makes me think. I remember having lunch with a good friend who lived in Japan for a very long time. We had arranged to meet at our Asian friend’s house. She tried to fish the last grains of rice out of the bowl with her chopsticks. “Well, you must really like it,” I ironically commented on her strange operation. She smiled and replied, “In Japan, there is a wisdom that says, ‘In every single grain of rice is the work of a farmer. She continued to pick up her grains calmly. Since then I have been doing the same.
As I reflect on this story, Daniel heads to the kitchen to bring me my next course: Nagiri, sashimi, uramaki. They are works of art on the finest ceramic. Nevertheless, I don’t start eating. Daniel looks at me: “You don’t eat raw fish!” It’s true. Years ago I tried it and it didn’t end well. But how can I let these lovingly prepared plates go back? I see the Japanese sushi master in front of me. I am looking at his sad face. To see a half-filled plate is bad enough, but a whole one!?! “It’s really no problem, I can take them back. We will prepare something else for you. ” I want to jump over my shadow. “I’ll give it a try.” “Are you sure?” Yes, I’m sure! The decision has been made. I’m sitting in one of the best Japanese restaurants, whose staff takes touching care of me and presents me their excellent culinary world. The result is: I empty all plates! The shrimps are a taste sensation, they come from the neighborhood in the region and are fished on order. Not even the wasabi is left, which is lighter in color and milder in taste. “We grind our wasabi ourselves and have the fresh tuber delivered,” Daniel explains to me and grins at the empty plates. “I would love to make your sushi master smile” I reply embarrassed. “Did you know that Sushi is finger food in Japan?” No, I didn’t know and I wouldn’t have dared to try it.
A popular specialty is Shidashi Bento, although it is not classically served in a box, but in several porcelain bowls. The miso soup is included as expected. I spoon off. Daniel grins again: “In Japan, miso soup is eaten as the last course with the main dishes. Here it is only served as the first course because it is so common in Europe. Makes sense. As a liquid food it pleasantly fills the stomach. A soup can also reduce the feeling of hunger. We can learn a lot of useful things from Japanese cuisine, which is not considered one of the healthiest in the world for nothing. From udon with shrimp, 24-hour pickled and then grilled fish, to seaweed salad with tofu, everything is included. Under the wine and sake accompaniment, everyone will find something for their palate. “Many think sake is a rice liquor. But it is much more.” With 111 different varieties, it is the most exquisite and largest in Switzerland. It is served in original Japanese sake glasses that I have never seen before.
I enjoy my non-alcoholic white wine for dessert. I have eaten a lot, but have also learned a lot. My stomach and mind are well nourished. Ichi Go … Ichi E (translated “only for this time”) is written on the first page of the menu. Enjoy the time in the now. At The Japanese by The Chedi Andermatt, the people and the place have given me unique moments. Domo Arigato.