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Tiago Penão. Flavours of Japan, tradition and modernity

Tiago Penão. Flavours of Japan, tradition and modernity

Tiago Penão © ffmag

In the picturesque city of Cascais, chef Tiago Penão has left an enduring mark on the world of food with his two singular restaurants: Kappo and Izakaya. His eclectic approach and total respect for Japanese tradition has helped him create two unique culinary experiences that combine sophisticated haute cuisine (Kappo) with the unchecked fun of a Japanese bar (Izakaya).


Tiago Penão’s career

Tiago Penão has travelled an impressive culinary road since he started cooking at the tender age of 15. He’s worked in renowned restaurants such as the famous Hotel Penha Lodge and learned from top chefs, including the celebrated Albert Adrià, with whom he worked at Tickets and Pakta. But recognition as a chef truly arrived when he won a Michelin star in 2016 while working at Midori

Respect for Japanese food and its traditions are a constant theme in Penão’s work but his style is far more eclectic. Blending tradition with modernity, his creations are steeped in his culinary experiences, from classic French cooking to his work alongside the inventiveness of Albert Adrià. Within this context of aesthetics and creativity, Penão finds the perfect balance between respect for dogmatic Japanese tradition and contemporary cooking. Modern and minimalist, his food innovates while paying tribute to the principles of Japanese haute cuisine, and introduces European haute cuisine influences at the same time.

Japanese cuisine

Japanese cuisine © Tiago


Kappo: the modernisation of Japanese tradition

Kappo is at the heart of Penão’s cooking and is a gourmet restaurant that redefines the Japanese haute cuisine experience. At Kappo, Penão holds a direct conversation with diners, offering a service in the purest omakase style that takes visitors on an unforgettable culinary journey. According to Penão, Kappo is “a concept that isn’t as formal as kaiseki”, with room for more interaction and a service in several acts that run from raw or cold dishes to steamed dishes, and much more. Kappo is exactitude, precision and attention to detail. The five senses are engaged as everything becomes perfect and truly unforgettable.

Penão emphasises the importance of offering the best dishes to his customers. To achieve this, his cornerstone is his team. Many of the staff who work at Kappo followed him there from Midori, and they all contribute to the flawless work.


Izakaya: the rebellious spirit of a Japanese bar

Contrasting with the formal elegance of Kappo, Izakaya is Penão’s most casual and subversive project, his “black sheep”, as he describes it. Here the experience is focused around the bar, with a fun atmosphere and music that is dialled up loud to capture the purest essence of Japanese bars. Penão says that Kappo is “an opera and Izakaya is a heavy metal concert”. It’s “ordered chaos” where signature cocktails and sake play a crucial role in the experience.

Kappo is an opera and Izakaya is a heavy metal concert

Izakaya only has room for 20 people and serves a wide range of typical Japanese dishes, such as yakitori, hatsumoto, and bonjiri. Premium, Japanese-inspired cocktails play an essential role and Penão emphasises the importance of collaborative events run with barmen from other restaurants to enrich the customer experience even more.

Kappo Restaurant. Cascais, Lisbon. Portugal

Kappo © Tiago


The future: in search of excellence

When he’s asked about the future, Penão reveals his hopes for Kappo and Izakaya. For Kappo, he wants “a new, smaller and more private version, with a constant search for excellence in every last detail.” And for Izakaya, he’s planning “to replicate the concept in other places, with another branch that is scheduled to open in 2024, but always keeping the essence of the bar and connection with Japan.”

Tiago Penão has left a long-lasting mark on the Portuguese food scene, fusing Japanese tradition with European modernity. His restaurants Kappo and Izakaya offer unique culinary experiences that thrill diners, creating unforgettable memories. Penão’s vision for the future is based on a constant search for excellence and he stands out as one of the most notable figures on the Portuguese cooking scene, recreating the essence of Japan through his eclectic dishes and innovative approach.

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