Restaurant & Bar Awards 2021 Page 13 LUX 2021 Restaurant & Bar Awards Traditional Japanese food may not be something that Italy is renowned for, but for one restaurant owner based in Southern Italy, the taste of the Far East is exactly what his diners are after. We speak to Maurizio Tinelli of Yuki Cucina Giapponese about the philosophy behind his food. Yuki Cucina Giapponese Best Japanese Restaurant - Puglia Feb21217 Founded in 2018, Yuki Cucina Giapponese’s mission is to offer Japanese cuisine that is steeped in tradition, using only the best raw materials and utmost respect for ancient cooking techniques. Situated in the unique location of a restored former snow house – or ‘neviera’, a structure that is common in both Apulian and Japanese culture – the restaurant has more than just a delicious dining experience to offer its customers. Maurizio Tinelli is the owner of the Puglia- based establishment. He tells us of the great pride he has in welcoming each and every visitor into his restaurant. “Each of our guests is welcomed and accompanied for the entire duration of the dinner on a journey, which not only encompasses a description of the dishes, but also exhibits the curiosity, culture and history of what guests eat and what they choose to drink,” he begins. The experience is so much more than just enjoying the meal; it is also about absorbing Japanese culture. Awareness of places and raw materials inspires the chefs at Yuki, which literally translates as ‘snow’, and is a nod to the restaurant’s former life as a snow cellar. Maurizio goes on to further explain his business philosophy. “We use excellent raw materials and focus on preparations that enhance quality and taste without contamination. It is a magical location where everything is original, hand-built and not replicable. In fact, the Yuki experience is the synthesis of everything, including our work and all the passion we put into making the experience of eating at Yuki’s truly unique for each customer.” It is difficult to not get excited by Maurizio’s enthusiasm, and his dedication to the art of Japanese food is clear, as is the great emphasis placed on customer satisfaction. This is why, when recruiting new staff members, he looks beyond what is on paper for someone who will truly fit in. “We have a family rather than a staff, so it’s easier for everyone to pursue the same goal,” he states. “The most difficult goals and obstacles are more easily overcome with complicity rather than a pyramid scheme. Together we sacrifice, together we suffer, but at the end, together we win!” Recent events regarding the Covid-19 pandemic have meant that Maurizio and his team have had to completely change the way they do business, addressing everything from the way they acquire produce, to the way they approach their key market. The impossibility of hosting customers inside the restaurant has led to the development of the takeaway menu and even a delivery service too. Despite this new way of serving diners, Maurizio has been committed to ensuring that the quality and taste of his food does not suffer in any way. “We try to offer dishes that do not change in taste and texture when consumed at customers’ homes, so we have decided to limit preparations to this type of dish only.” Regarding the future, Maurizio hopes it won’t be long before his patrons are flocking once again to his eatery as the world returns to normal work and home life. “As soon as it is possible to return to dine in the restaurant, the experience will be different and complete, thanks not only to the possibility of interacting with guests, but also to the atmosphere of our restaurant. “This could lead to a situation where we can plan and resume a growth path, without excluding the possibility of new opportunities and developments in our business.” Contact: Maurizio Tinelli Company: Yuki Cucina Giapponese Web Address: