Case Study

Burnside, Tokyo’s trendy restaurant that turns dining into an immersive culinary experience

Kooo Architects & Snøhetta

Image of Burnside Japan 9.jpg?auto=format%2Ccompress&ixlib=php 3.3 in Burnside, Tokyo’s trendy restaurant that turns dining into an immersive culinary experience - Cosentino


Tokyo (Japan)






6.5 m2


Keishin Horikoshi/SS


Kooo Architects & Snøhetta




12 mm



Located above a FamilyMart convenience store in Harajuku, the heart of Tokyo’s street culture and art scene, Burnside is a chef-driven casual café and eatery by day and a restaurant, bar and lounge by night. Studio Snøhetta designed this intimate space with input from Bronx-based food, design and art collective Ghetto Gastro and local architecture firm Kooo Architects.

Using food to empower communities, Ghetto Gastro celebrates the Bronx as an inspiration and catalyst for global culture. Burnside builds on this creative energy where the Bronx meets Tokyo. Since its inception in 2012, Ghetto Gastro’s work exploring global food traditions has resulted in immersive culinary experiences produced with an art installation approach.

A view of the dining room and the open plan kitchen

New York-style bodegas, or ‘konbini’ as they are known in Japanese, are a cultural experience shared by Tokyo and the Bronx – the ease of takeaway and their ubiquity as neighbourhood mainstays have cemented their place in the urban fabric of both cities.

As you enter the restaurant, the space unfolds to reveal the dining room and open plan kitchen. A wall of curtained windows allows daylight into the space, making the café feel active and lively during the day. As night falls, street lights filter through the windows, creating an inviting living room atmosphere.

Dark tones create an immersive ambience

The transition between day and night, between café and restaurant-lounge, is a driving theme in the interior design. Two intersecting arches create a clear demarcation between the café and dining area and the kitchen, while allowing views across both spaces, blurring the line between front-of-house and back-of-house.

A dark palette of materials features amber accents that reflect the changing light throughout the day, while highlighting more ornate design elements such as the floral sculptures designed by Makoto Azuma.

With a maximum capacity of 30 people, the dining room is designed to maximise space with bespoke family style tables that can be linked and folded to create a variety of configurations, including a dance floor for evening events.

In this room, the choice of Dekton Fossil for the kitchen worktop was crucial, because in such an immersive atmosphere, there is nothing more natural than the veins and marks drawn in its design against a darkened grey background. They give it an aged and antique look, typical of fossilised pieces.

A versatile space designed to encourage creativity in the kitchen

The dining room culminates in a proscenium arch at the central rounded counter, where back-of-house and front-of-house meet. This central rounded counter becomes the centrepiece of the project. Just beyond the threshold of the dining room is an open kitchen that revolves around the chefs as they work, using heat and fire to create culinary delights.

The kitchen, designed with input from Ghetto Gastro, can easily accommodate future chefs on the rotating roster. The Dekton Fossil worktop also helps to maintain its good looks over time, as Dekton’s low porosity makes it highly resistant to stains, scratches and all the wear and tear that comes with heavy use in a kitchen like this. All in all, the overall flexibility of the design and layout ensures that the space is suitable for a wide range of pop-up uses and events.

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