Jasmine, Hiroo

I noticed a while back that Cardenas Chinois at Hiroo was no longer with us. It started off god knows how long ago as a trendy fusion restaurant, but had to kind of hang on during the recession by offering a pretty substantial 5,000 yen tasting menu which was actually pretty good value. However when a restaurant starts offering a 5,000 yen tasting menu which looks like it's too good to be true, you know the end is nigh. R.I.P. Furutoshi...

However in recent months it seems to have been jettisoned from the Cardenas group and been reborn with very little interior renovation as "Jasmine" (well actually the door has moved which caused me no end of confusion). The menu seems more hard-core Chinese with an emphasis on rich flavours and sauces. I don't know how authentic it is, but it's certainly a style that I've come to enjoy in Tokyo; so being not Chinese as all, there's need to be too snobby about it.

The service from the all-male ikemen staff is actually kind of a bit weird, with the communication skills somewhat lacking. This is not a language issue as my Japanese dining partner did most of the ordering - more a kind of inattentiveness mixed with nervousness which made us feel somewhat not at ease.

But in the final analysis the food trumped any issues we may have had with the service. I'd be more than happy to go back and would recommend it when you're looking for something casual but substantial.

Tofu and corriander salad - an excellent and refreshing combination.

Juicy gyoza - the dipping sauce was divine!

Scallop stir-fry - simple but delicious

Fried fish - I felt the sauce somewhat overpowered it but enjoyed it nonetheless.

I'd seen their stewed pork belly (buta kakuni) on their website and HAD to try it. It was as good as it looks, however the mashed potato accompanying it was lumpy and not good at all. What a pity...

Tel: 03-5421-8525


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