Ukaitei at Hachioji was, in a good way, much weirder than I expected. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but a very traditional high-class venue for ladies who drive a long way to lunch was pretty much it. Well, I think I was actually the only male in the place except for the waiters so I was right on that count.
The exterior appears traditionally Japanese. However on the inside they have a kind of 70s euro-baroque-ultra-luxury-flamboyant thing happening, except there's also lots of Japanese fixtures and the wood fittings are over 200 years old! Despite the accidental extreme retro theme that reminds me of some wood-panelled-brassy-green-shag-carpet houses I visited as a child, the effect is actually quite pleasant. I found it totally fun to be amongst it.
Every group of diners has their own little room with a teppan and your personal chef. For dessert you are led upstairs to the sitting room which overlooks a wooded hill, with some crazy mosaics on the teppanyaki bar to your back.
It's worth it to take the trip just to see the interior design, let alone the food. The food is about as retro and expensive as the building. Extremely high quality but somewhat on the safe side, and their clientelle don't really look like the types to experiment. If you have a visitor from overseas or you're too bored to stay in downtown Tokyo one weekend, I'd definitely recommend you make it over there. They are a chain too, but I've yet to see if their other properties are quite so bizarre.
It's not awabi (abalone) but one of its cousin species..
Avocado and tuna tartare - always a crowd pleaser...
Eggplant with truffle sauce! Weird, but tasty...Somewhat stupidly I forgot to take a pic of the steak from the teppan...it looked like meat cut into cubes as I guess you could imagine.
A coffee trifle type thingy - was rather nice.
Petit fours - yum!
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.
Thursday, 15 September 2011
Wednesday, 7 September 2011
Living fairly close-by I have, for some time, been intrigued by this little French restaurant I pass almost everyday. Suffering from a little "French fatigue" in the past year, I kind of avoided it. However recently, when in a bind to find somewhere convenient but a little bit special for dinner, I chose it almost by default.
What an excellent default it was. This tiny restaurant comprising just a few tables and a bar reminded me again of why I like dining out in Tokyo so much. I maintain that you can taste the passion of a chef in his food and this was certainly the case at Moelleuse.
My dining partner and I opted for the 10,000 yen tasting menu, but there are other less expensive options. I think it should be possible to eat pretty well there for about 5,000 yen a head. Our waiter was unfailingly friendly and attentive, and the wines paired with the course were perfect. All in all, dinner for two with paired wine came to a round 30,000 yen. When considering the quality of the food and wine, this is a steal. Try getting that type of quality in Sydney, where you can easily be charged $40 for just a mingy glass of red!
Amuse of chicken prepared "sous vide". Great taste and unique texture due to the cooking style.
Delicious home made bread and seaweed butter. Definitely adds a very unique "umami" flavour.
"Madai" carpaccio (a type of bream) with walnut oil.
Asari soup was delicious and not too salty, which is a frequent sin when making this dish.
Foie gras with sweet potato. I've never had foie gras with potato before, and this worked really well.
Pumpkin soup. My dining partner adored this!
This fish is called "kasago" and came with a delicious eggplant puree. The cheek meat was sweet and yummy.
Duck with togarashi (Japanese chill). Usually I like duck because of it's crispy yummy skin and strong flavours and sauces. This duck was relatively simple, but really just the best duck flesh I can remember eating.
The second meat dish was a luscious beef cheek.
A medley of stewed plum, passionfruit sorbet and cheesecake for dessert.
Thursday, 1 September 2011
Recently, with a view to impressing an important visitor from overseas, I set myself the task of finding the quintessential modern Tokyo restaurant. This would be a place with stunning interior design, superlative service and a menu painting from a varied ethnic palate, but assembled with exquisite Japanese sensibility.
I took a punt on the well-reputed Editions Koji Shimomura in Roppongi, and my hopes were met beautifully. The setting and service are impeccable and carry with them a sense of occasion. Upon arrival we were presented with some magic expanding oshibori. In dry form they come as tablets which the waiter placed in a shot glass with some water. They extended to full length almost instantly, giving a theatrical opening to the meal.
My dining partner and I opted for the "Menu Edition", the top of the range omakase course, which is priced at 21,000 yen. This is expensive, to be sure, but the wines are very reasonably priced so it seemed to balance out and overall the meal was not staggeringly expensive.
Our evening started with an amuse of a baby beef burger. This was followed by liver mousse in a tall shot glass with a red jelly. Next was a delicious foie gras.
The most interesting dish of the evening (which I have lifted from their website) was John Dory and lobster, wrapped in noodles and deep fried
with Indian spices. The combination of tastes and textures was unexpected and evocative.
The meat of the evening was a very rare and very edible roast duck. We chased this up with a delicious selection of cheeses of the cow and goat variety.
There were two dessert courses, and each would have sufficed as a dessert on its own (and this is not a complaint!). The first was a lychee, coconut and pineapple mousse. The finale was a chocolate ice cream served not with cream or ice cream, but with olive oil.
Editions Koji Shimomura offers an exemplary modern Tokyo dining experience, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to you whether your goal be love or money.