itsu story

its'our story

Here’s a true story about how, over two decades, itsu customers created a new and pioneering food place. Thank you to them for their thousands of emails, letters, texts and phone calls along the way.

I first visited Tokyo in the winter of 1994 and fell in love with the harmony and precision of the food; every bento box was a work of art. If beautiful food, fast, was humanly possible, then Japan was leading the way; it’s probably why nearly 100,000 people there are over one hundred years old.

I returned home determined to create a new kind of food place. I had no idea how hard it would be, but itsu Chelsea, London opened in 1997, itsu Soho a few years later.

Over twenty-five years [and 85 test restaurants] later we’ve cracked a health[ier] menu.  Customers call us ‘health[ier]’ because we don’t serve junk food, nor do we punish them with celery sticks. Every itsu restaurant has its own kitchen team making nutritious dishes which are steamed [not fried]. Our menu is protein-packed, fibreful, 40% plant-based & full of fresh vegetables and wholegrains.


a health[ier] future

We pay our hard-working, proud, professional employees as much as we can possibly afford, rather than as little as we can get away with; their careers, passion and sense of purpose are vital to us all; they are our heart & hope for a bright future. 

We’re thrilled to be health[ier] than old-fashioned fast-food operators. You can search through our dishes, which are made in each and every restaurant, according to calories, plant points, fibre or protein.

We have a half-price sale every evening to tackle food waste and, because there is no ‘planet B’, we will continue to pioneer sustainable solutions within itsu at every opportunity.

Enjoying health[ier] food is more important today than ever before. Perhaps what’s been lacking is education, which is why we invest in itsu’s Community Kitchen Project, teaching better nutrition to kids and young people. 

Health[ier] is obviously better and, with itsu, one step easier to find. I promise we’ll keep listening, learning and staying restless for another 20 years.


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mini movie [& podcasts]

Our eat beautiful crusade, Diary of a CEO with Steven Bartlett & more

itsu value[s]

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#1 health & happiness

itsu is dedicated to an Asian-inspired health[ier] menu which is nutritious, fast & affordable.

Our restaurant dishes are protein-packed, 40% plant-based & full of fresh vegetables, vitamins & fibre.

Most are under 500 [good] calories with a generous quota of nutrients, wholegrains, greens, vegetables, fermented soy as well as healthy seaweed, miso, omega-3 toasted seeds, herbs & ginger.

Enlightened folk in the East eat beautifully in pursuit of health & happiness. 


#2 steamed, not fried

While others deep-fry, we steam. Steaming locks in vitamins & nutrients & keeps unnecessary saturated fat out. The health[ier] way to cook - steaming is in perfect harmony with our vision & values. In our restaurant kitchens we steam everything from salmon, dumplings & bao to edamame beans.

Fast food is commonly deep-fried, sugary & cheesy [or all three] which provide fat & a generous mouthfeel. itsu swims upstream, against the tide, to an altogether health[ier] place.

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#3 careers, purpose & passion

We recognise the responsibility to provide all our employees with a health[ier] sense of purpose; a place where their passion, dedication & hard work result in success & fulfilment.

Our teams are our heart & hope for a bright future; we pay them as much as we can afford [rather than as little as we can get away with]. Wherever possible, we promote from within; many of our execs, heads & managers started in the kitchen.

For two decades our company has thrived on the back of our IQ's [itsu qualities]. I care, I want to grow, I take pride & I build trust. Not a day goes by when we don't try & live by these qualities.

Accountability, responsibility, trust & more freedom help our people grow as individuals & ensure itsu grows as one successful team. 


#4 there is no planet-B

We nurture itsu for tomorrow, forever mindful of the wellbeing of our fragile planet. This means working with suppliers who love and care for their crop, their people and their impact on the world.

You’ll find milestones, big & small, updated monthly below. Some changes are more impressive than others, we celebrate them all, to remind ourselves that little things make big things happen.

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#5 freshly made on the spot

We insist on using nutrient-rich, fragile & fresh ingredients with a short shelf life for our dishes. Our restaurants make bento boxes fresh on site. We steam, slice & season on the hour, every hour.

Many of our signature grocery products are made by partners in Japan, Korea, China & Vietnam using authentic quality ingredients & methods, ready to be steamed by you before serving.


#6 eat beautiful

Asian-inspired, affordable, nutritious food made with quality ingredients, respect, precision & passion is what we are all about. Our six values help guide us.

Ancient culinary techniques & craftsmanship are celebrated by our skilled suppliers across Japan, Korea, China & Vietnam as well as our orchid-filled restaurants worldwide. The utmost love & care go into every detail, from raw produce to final presentation.

eat beautiful means good food, good health, stunning presentation, proud employees & a well-designed, harmonious environment.