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The Michelin Guide has consistently awarded more stars to Tokyo dining establishments than any other city in the world. I created this blog as my personal Tokyo restaurant guide, but I hope you will also enjoy reading it. If you have been to any of the same places feel free to leave some comments about your own experiences.

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Saturday, 18 July 2009

Les Creations de Narisawa, Minami Aoyama レ・クレアシヨン・ド・ナリサワ 南青山

Yoshihiro Narisawa at Creations de Narisawa apprenticed with both Bocuse and Robuchon, so it's hard to imagine a better pedigree in French cooking that this still-young chef could have had. His restaurant, which is located under the Sony building in Minami Aoyama, opened in 2003 and since then has received a string of accolades, including a Michelin star and being named by San Pellegrino water as one of the top 20 restaurants in the world (on my blog you can read about one of the others - Tetsuyas).

After dining there I can confirm that all the accolades are well deserved. Indeed, I really need to question why this restaurant has only one Michelin star when you compare it to other places in Tokyo which are supposedly on the same level. Creations is clearly aiming for a class above. The first thing that sets it apart is its ultra-modern "waiting room" where you are asked to sit before the electric doors slide open and your waiter leads you to your seat.

There is a studied, deliberate coldness both about the room and the serving staff who do quite a good impression of expressionless androids; which is quite disconcerting at first. However I set out to see if I could subtly melt this down a bit, and as the evening wore on I'm happy to say that both our waiters became steadily more human and even Mr Narisawa himself came out to say hi - and couldn't have been more friendly. Hmm - I know they're trying to focus all attention on the food with the minimalism, but I think people, at the end of the day, want a human experience too when they dine out. I think one shouldn't really attempt to separate this from the food.

I'm going to show a pic of each dish that was served on the “o-makase” menu (the only choice available) with a little description. I opted for the paired wines which took all the work out of deciding how to wash it all down. Just one final point - if you need to ask how much this meal was then you won't be able to afford it. I’ll be paying this one off in installments ;-0

Amuse of Sea Urchin with Kyoto onion.

Fresh as can be - delicious!

Aji (a white fish), mozzarella and beans.

The sauce was kind of savoury - great!

This is not a pot-plant. It's actually butter and the "dirt" is like a tapenade. This went down well with the bread, which was divine - especially the black bread.

Finger lickin' good fried frog, served with poached egg, frog foam and summer truffles. It tasted as good as it looked.

Abalone, served with dry ice/"ashes"and a capsicum sauce. Entertaining.

Kyoto eggplant topped with mushroom, petals, pine nuts and a curtain of tomato jelly. Fresh and playful!

This little critter is an "Ayu" - a freshwater fish. It's billed as a sweet fish but was actualy rather bitter. More interesting than enjoyable to eat.

Eel, foie gras and mango. Served under a dome containing fragrant incense - wow. Stupidly, I opted out of this one.

Instead I got a rather nice little monkfish and clam dish.

The main event - Matsuzaka beef slow cooked in charcoal or "sumi" with a side of slimy girolle mushies. It tasted every bit as good as you'd expect.

"Pina Colada". Good little mouth freshener.

Ice cream with chamomile foam, strawberry and rhubarb. The glass dish it was served on was cool as!

This is not pictured but there was a huge cart of petit fours, savarins, choc pudding that was served with coffee. Yum!!

Tel: 03-5785-0799

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Beige, Ginza ベージュ銀座

Once in a while one needs something a little more glamorous than the average lunch set; something to make the statement that although today may be an ordinary day, I am no ordinary person - and nor for that matter are my friends!

On a day like that you should find yourself somewhere like Alain Ducasse's "Beige" - the icing on the modern, austere cake of the Chanel building in Ginza.

It was on such a day that I found myself sampling the delights of Beige. The service and surroundings are all that you would expect - impeccable, stylish; kind of a tweedy-sober-glam feel. I suspect Coco would approve; something I feel confident in saying as I recently saw the movie about her early life "Coco Avant Chanel", which gave a great insight into the foundations of her amazing, revolutionary (for the time) sartorial art. That was one heck of a lady!

My dining partner and I kicked things off with a couple of glasses of Louis Roederer, which was just what the doctor ordered on a hot summer day. For 8,000 yen you can order three dishes from the menu. My dining partner and I had the scallop with orange to start. Then I ordered the "three crustaceans" and the free range chicken with peas. My dining partner ordered the sea urchin soup and the fish. All dishes were beautifully presented and tasted excellent. For mine I think the best dish was the pea and chicken. It's such a mundane combination, but this was like taking the everyday and making it divine.

The desserts are charged on top of the menu but were amazing, and I will just let the pictures tell the story. Perhaps the tastiest morsels of the lunch were the pre-coffee macaroons. But this is not where the feast ended. As we were having our coffee some scrummy, fresh madeleines were offered just out of the oven. Oohh - I wish I hadn't been so full at that point. Last but not least, some chocolates with the Chanel insignia were served.

All in all, Beige is just about perfect for a special lunch with a special person. The attention to detail, and the small touches such as the seaweed butter are superb. I'd go there happily for business or pleasure, but if your purpose was business you'd come over as a pretty shrewd guy or girl choosing such a place.

Bistrot D'Artemis, Sendagaya ビストロ・ダルテミス 千駄ヶ谷

Bistrot D'Artemis is another one of those French-style bistros that, with its meticulous fit-out and waiters, really could be in France. All those lucky ladies who lunch don't need to travel half-way round the world, as France comes to them! It's located diagonally across the intersection from the GSK building in Sendagaya- not an area I've really thought much about for eating, but scratch the surface a bit and just look what turns up!

On the weekend for 2,500 yen you can get yourself a set lunch with includes and entree, main, dessert and coffee. I think given the high quality of the food this represents excellent value. For my entree I chose the salmon with cream which was fresh, light and delightful. My dining partner had the usual of terrine, which bores the pants off me - but was reported to be delicious. For the main I had chicken with mustard sauce and lentils which was very pleasant, but my dining partner went for the cassoulet. I saw lots of the cassoulet going out of the kitchen, so it appears to be a popular dish - and rightly so. It looked great and was reported to taste great also, but I'm not sure whether it's the type of dish I would eat in summer!

Dessert was a nougat ice cream with an espresso shot on the side. Like everything else this tasted great and had a great creamy, chewy consistency also. I also ordered a "vin mousseux" which was nice and dry and only 630 yen. This place offers food which is a definite cut above but also screams value for money. I'll be back for sure.
Tel: 03-5770-7155