There is something addicting about “PIZZA KEVELOS”, a pizzeria on the back street of Harajuku, targeted for adults.
Omotesando in the winter is full of energy and enthusiasm, emitted by cheerful people walking on its streets, as if they are under some kind of magic spell. However, someone like myself who only visits Harajuku for work meetings at cafes, usually heads underground immediately after finishing work to take the Hanzomon line...But that was only until I met "PIZZA KEVELOS".
Omotesando in the winter is full of energy and enthusiasm, emitted by cheerful people walking on its streets, as if they are under some kind of magic spell. However, someone like myself who only visits Harajuku for work meetings at cafes, usually heads underground immediately after finishing work to take the Hanzomon line…But that was only until I met “PIZZA KEVELOS”.
Back streets are where we find truly modern essences, which is the kind we want.
The reason I am not a fan of Harajuku is because of the excessive marketing going on in every aspect of the town. For example, every apparel store, restaurant, or famous brand store such as the Apple store, all lined up next to one another on Omotesando street, as if they are saying, “here are the latest items and trends!”. I find this uncreative, and difficult to hold interest in it.
But then again, my views are often a bit twisted compared to the majority (lol).
So naturally, it is a habit for me to wander away from the main streets and into alleys. My theory is that the farther away from the main street and fewer the crowd, the more interesting the stores are, since they tend to ignore marketing. I learned recently that this theory also applies to this town, Harajuku.
A pizzeria that satisfies the five senses of picky adults
On the back street of Harajuku, there is a man with the ability to stimulate the five senses of even twisted people such as myself. The reason that I wanted to introduce “PIZZA KEVELOS” is because of this extraordinary “stimulation”.
The sophisticated appearance of the restaurant does not show any hints of such edginess. The open terrace, which is rare in Harajuku, is a pleasant advantage of the back streets. This day, I decided to sit inside due to the cold midwinter weather.
I have been here many times, and assure you that the comfort created by the atmosphere and attentiveness of the staff is wonderful.
Their main menu is the kiln-baked pizza, but they also have meat dishes for those who enjoy wine or beer, and also some antipasto. One of their charms is the comfortable and casual atmosphere, unlike many other Italian restaurants.
The laid back vibe is closer to that of a neighborhood pub, where one can relax and feel at home.The producer of such a wonderful atmosphere is Mr. Kohara, the pizza chef and owner of KEVELOS.
Mr. Kohara’s background is quite unique, and I must say…very manly.
Prior to entering this industry, he was in the construction business, working as a constructor and administrator for interiors. Then one day, he tasted a dish of delicious pasta prepared by only primary ingredients: tomato, garlic, and olive oil. Astonished by this pizza, he felt a strong urge to pursue a newly born passion: to become a provider of such wonderful cuisine. Amazingly, he quit the construction job, and dived into the restaurant industry, which he had absolutely no experience or connections in. His journey began as a trainee at a pizzeria in Nakameguro, a town known for its competition of kiln baked pizzerias.
The road was bumpy in the beginning, but due to his hardworking and patient character, attained from his previous work, he was soon appointed as the manager and ended up working 6 years at this famous pizzeria, well-known by pizza lovers. During these six years, he managed the restaurant, trained staff, and baked pizza.
It was only two years ago that he finally opened KEVELOS, as a new stage of his journey. Mr. Kohara’s career is quite rare in the pizza industry. In my opinion, his challenges would make him an outlaw in any industry.
Especially his choice in trying to compete with “Marinara” pizza which does not use cheese.
Generally speaking, cheese is expected to be used to make pizza, and Margherita is considered the standard Napoli pizza. However, Mr. Kohara is certain that truly addictive pizza cannot be accomplished with Margherita. “Anyone can make good pizza using cheese.” he says, “But truly delicious and irresistible pizza can only be made with simple ingredients, in other words, it must be Marinara”.
Simply put, there is no way to deceive with “Marinara”.
In the modern food culture, it is a trend to add various ingredients and create complicated combinations of flavor. The importance of scraping down to the minimal to pursue the most simple and delicious recipe is Mr. Kohara’s
philosophy, which is also reflected on his way of life.
Mr. Kohara’s work style is a repetition of careful steps.Flour, water, tomato, garlic, olive oil, basil, and salt.Each of these ingredients have been chosen carefully, and attention has been paid to every step to complete this pizza. Watching Mr. Kohara’s expressions and hand movements, I felt that the trial and error which he has repeated for his current accomplishments must be far beyond our imagination.
I strongly recommend that you take a seat at their counter, and see for yourself true craftsmanship.
I asked Mr. Kohara if there are any restaurants which he sets as a goal. Surprisingly, his response was, “Not any pizzerias or Italian restaurants.” So what kind of restaurant does he look up to? His response to this was even more surprising.”Our goal is ramen Jiro.”Ramen Jiro is a popular ramen restaurant known for their long line of customers even at midnight. They are supported by “Jirorians” (a term for Ramen Jiro enthusiasts). Mr. Kohara claims that his goal is to attain such a position as a pizzeria. These unique viewpoints and height of ambition is what makes KEVELOS special, and attracts a steady base of fans.
Why I recommend this marinara, after tasting pizza at countless famous pizzerias nationwide.
KEVELOS’ marinara is literally packed with “craftsmanship”.KEVELOS, their name, is not Italian, but actually a word created by Mr. Kohara.Its origin is the Spanish phrase “Que veloz!” (How fast!), which was chosen to express the instant “damn this is good!” reaction he hopes to provide to his customers. The moment you take a bite into their freshly baked Marinara, you will understand the reason behind this naming.
The instant you take a bite into their marinara, it will stimulate your five senses, vision, taste, sound, smell, texture… and even beyond these senses, there is something about their pizza that fills us with joy.
That’s KEVELOS’ marinara. Daily work and accumulation of efforts have produced an invisible factor, reaching the hearts of those who consume it.Last but not least, pizza besides their Marinara is also quite delicious.Now, here is one advice from me.
The secret to eating delicious pizza is to eat it freshly baked, as soon as possible. I can not stress this enough. Sit at a table close to the kiln, and although it’s tempting, wait until after having a piece to take a photo with your smartphone.
Text: Kazuaki Tani
Picture: Kazuaki Tani
Translation: Yukie Haneda