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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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Sunday, 24 February 2008

Le Jeu de l'Assiette, Ebisu ル・ジュー・ドゥ・ラシエット 恵比寿

Le Jeu de l'Assiette is a small French restaurant located a few steps up the hill from the five-ways at Ebisu. The name means "the game of the plate" and it's quite clear that the chef aims to live up to the name of the establishment by being very creative in the way dishes are presented. For dinner you can choose either a 9 course meal for 8,000 yen or a 12 course meal for 12,000 yen. On a recent Saturday evening visit with one of my favourite clients we decided to order a la carte as we didn't feel our tummies had the capacity for these "Caligula-style" feasts!

Dinner commenced promisingly with a tasty amuse bouche of a deep fried sagittaria and truffle ball (sagittaria is a kind of aquatic potato This was followed by an entree of semi-cooked prawns with their tails attached, and their crunchy legs fried up and served separately, on three different dabs of white purees. The next dish was a red radish soup, which was beautifully coloured and presented with scallops on the side of the plate. The main was the specialty of the house which is strips of lobster served on cabbage surrounded by a rich lobster reduction. In the interests of full disclosure I need to admit that I ate my dining partner's duck as well as she was struggling to finish it. I like to be helpful like that and can report that both mains were superb. For dessert I had a fondant chocolat and ice cream. The fondant was hot and rich, and because the ice cream was served on the side I could choose when to introduce it to its friend, Mr Chocolate. The service was very polished and, while it was perhaps a bit odd to be speaking in French to the Japanese waiters, they were very friendly and I would recommend this restaurant equally for business or pleasure.

ル・ジュー・ドゥ・ラシエット (恵比寿)


前菜のアミューズはサギッタリアとトリフをボール状に揚げたもの。(ちなみにサギッタリアとは水面に浮かぶポテトのようなもの 参照)これに続いて、カラッと揚げられたクルマ海老とその足は別々に出され、3種類の白いソースが用意されていた。この後には、はつか大根のスープにホタテ貝でスープの色は食べ物というより一種の芸術といってよいほど美しかった。メインはこのレストランのスペシャリティでロブスターにキャベツが添えてあり、それにロブスターから採ったスープをたっぷりとかけて仕上げてあった。食べ切れないというので、一緒に食事をした友達の分まで頂いたが本当に美味しかった。デザートにフォンダン・ショコラを選んだ私は、チョコレートがふんだんに使われていてボリュームがありまだ出来たのなのだろう、あたたかった。日本人のスタッフにフランス語で話すのも少しおかしな話だか、それを含めてサービスは素晴らしく、愛想もとてもよい。是非このレストランはビジネスにもプライベートにもお勧めしたい。
Tel: 03-6415-5100

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Riviera, Aoyama リビエラ青山レストラン 青山

Riviera is a swish Italian restaurant situated just down the hill from Bell Commons at Gaienmae. It was somewhat nostalgic for me to dine there as I had some memorable dinners for business and pleasure in the same space many years ago when it was Roy's Bar and Grill. The space has been renovated and features a rather busy ceiling as well as some wide-screen TVs featuring looped pictures of beaches to give the whole place a bit of a karaoke theme. There's also a walled-off section called the "Riviera Club" which I assume is for members of the Riviera Sports Club which is upstairs (I wonder what hidden pleasures go on in that section!). There was no shortage of waiters (and chefs for that matter; I counted no less than six in the open plan kitchen for a dining room that was nowhere near capacity). Our waitress was very charming and this made up for the fact that she tipped over my gin and tonic at the start of the meal and mixed up our main courses! The menu was hard work, being written either in Japanese or Italian, but not English. My Japanese is better than my Italian but my dining partner and I still required a full run-down on the menu before we were able to order.

For the amuse bouche we were served a salted prawn done on a teppan, which was quite crispy and tasty. For my entree I ordered the foie gras which was served on a piece of daikon. I knew I was taking a risk but, to be brutally honest, this combination does not really work - foie gras really should be served with something sweet, or acidic or crunchy (or all three!), but not watery. This was followed by a small spaghetti carbonara with truffle scrapings which was ok. This was followed by a clam and perch soup. I didn't really know it was going to be a soup when I ordered it, but it worked nonetheless being light and tasty. For the main I had some delicious smokey tasting lamb cutlets served with roasted capsicum. For dessert I ordered a semifredo with a medley of red berries which was accompanied by a flaming brandy sauce. Our poor waitress was very nervous about setting fire to the brandy (for which I don't blame her after the g&t incident), so I took charge and poured it myself while it was still on fire, much to amusement of the staff who had gathered to watch. Coffee followed, and my dining partner was given a cappuccino with a little bear face sprinkled in chocolate on the foam. Very cute! All in all the food was nice and the service willing. This would probably be a good place for a larger group as well.

Tel: 03-5411-6660

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Bisogno, Ebisu ビゾーニョ 恵比寿

Bisogno is a little bit out of the way in Ebisu, about five minutes walk from Ebisu Garden Place in the direction of Shirokane. I have eaten there several times for lunch and dinner and although it is not especially cheap, I think they try hard to make the food a little more interesting than usual. On a recent visit for lunch on a Sunday, I ordered a basic "weekend" pasta set with dessert which cost 2,100 yen. The entree was a cold plate of asparagus spears, and aspic jelly topped with a runny poached egg (pictured). I was able to mop this up with some delicious warm bread, one of which had white figs in it. There were only two fairly small pieces of this bread served so I had to ask for more, and was only granted two tiny extra pieces. For the main I had a taglietelli tossed with pork sausage meat and cream. I am fond of pasta where the sausage meat has been taken out of the skin as it adds a lot of flavour to the sauce. The dessert of the day was a platter comprising of a small scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream with some crunchy biscuit crumbs underneath, a small piece of chocolate "terrine" sandwiched in some filo pastry and a piece of crepe with orange cream. Very nice, and the coffee is better than average. Dinner is also pretty good, and I would recommend the lamb. All in all Bisogno is pleasant enough and I would recommend giving it a go if you are in the area.
Tel: 03-5792-5841

Monday, 11 February 2008

Chang-an Toushoumen, Nishi Shimbashi 長安刀削麺 西新橋

Chang-An (modern day Xian) was one of the capitals of ancient China, and "Toushoumen" is a special type of noodle, literally translatable as "sword noodle". If you look in the kitchen of this unpretentious Chinese diner you'll see a chef holding a block of dough sloughing off noodles one by one with a special tool, sending them flying in the air into a pot of boiling water. I really enjoyed this unexpected bit of theatre as I watched the chef prepare my Tantanmen (a northern Chinese sesame and pork noodle soup). The homemade noodles were chewy and quite delicious. The broth did not have as much sesame as is often seen in Tantanmen in Tokyo but was pleasantly rich and spicy, topped with fresh corriander. The Tantanmen was served with three meaty shorompo (soup dumplings). All this was only 980 yen. The soup pictured is my dining partner's Charsiumen which by all reports was not too fatty and pretty good. During the week this place gets really crowded but it's better on the weekend, so I'd advise you to go there on a Saturday or a Sunday.
Tel: 03-3502-6881

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Bistro de la Cite, Nishi Azabu ビストロ・ド・ラシテ 西麻布

Bistro de la Cite is located in the "restaurant alley" of Nishi Azabu parallel to Gaien Nishi Dori. It's a small restaurant with an authentic French style fit-out. The Flemish still-lifes on the wall behind our tables gave the place a very atmospheric, almost Flanders feel. The food is superb. There are a number of different combinations of entree and main that you can order, and you can easily get away at lunch with paying under 5,000 yen per head including a glass or two of wine (the house white which was surprisingly good is only 300 yen a glass!). The meal started with some bread and rillette. The rillette was fresh and soft with a hint of garlic. You can really tell whether you're going to get a good meal if the rillette is good - and we were off to a very promising start. Then I ordered the sautéed foie gras. It came sautéed and browned on the outside, served with a raspberry vinegar, croutons and jullienned endive. The waitress helpfully offered me a sticky sauterne to go with it. Divine. For the main I ordered the fish of the day. This was a fleshy suzuki served with scallops, little brussels spouts, a risotto and ringed with a lobster bisque. This was then topped with a tempura of zucchini flower with little bits of very flavoursome tapenade. And I thought I was ordering light by having the fish! For dessert I could only manage a spoon of my friend's chocolate tart with caramel ice-cream. The chocolate and caramel flavours were very powerful, and delicious. Even the coffee and petit fours were well above average. I would definitely take someone here who appreciates good food, whether for business or pleasure.

Très impressionant!!!
Tel: 03-3406-5475

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Tanpaoichiba, Shinbashi  湯包市場 新橋

Tanpaoichiba is a no-frills Chinese cafe down a lane in Nishi Shimbashi. You'd hardly give it a second glance if you were walking past, and that would be a big mistake. For 3,800 yen you can order all the dumplings, shorompo, gyoza, sui gyoza, karaage, pork buns, ramen, noodles, desserts and beverages (including alcoholic) that you can handle. You are also able to order a la carte and all the prices are very reasonable. The abundance of food does not impugn its quality, with all the food being prepared freshly in the store. I didn't see any evidence of a defrosted dumpling the whole evening. The staff are also charming, which is usually not one of my criteria when I go out for "real" Chinese. This is a great place to unwind with work colleagues or close friends who love to eat! It's a small place so I would advise booking in advance.
Tel: 03-3591-2988

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Matsuura Italian Restaurant, Hiroo イタリア料理マツウラ 広尾

Matsuura is an Italian restaurant on Meiji Dori, very close to Tengenjibashi. I have been there for lunch and dinner. On my most recent visit for Sunday lunch, I ordered the "Gourmet Set" which for 1,890 yen included an antipasto plate of sashimi (of a type of ray, but I don't know which), some fresh mozzarella with ratatouille and "Tsukuba" chicken sashimi. It was the first time I have eaten chicken sashimi, and it was quite nice but I have to admit I was sqeemish as I'd always understood raw chicken to contain salmonella. This was followed by a cauliflower cream soup, a decent sized green salad and a cream and mushroom pasta. Dessert was a little piece of Tiramisu which was flavoured with banana. Banana is one food I simply cannot stomach but my dining partner was more than happy to take it off my hands. Coffee was also included in the set. My only complaint is that they served each course before the last one had been finished. There's a slighly odd and nervous energy about the service, but all in all this is a reasonable place to eat and very good for the price.
Tel: 03-5449-3377

Asterix, Akasaka アステリックス 赤坂

In the heart of black limousine territory you'll find a little subterranean gem of a French restaurant called Asterix. The lunch sets are very reasonably priced and quite generous. On one visit I chose the 2000 yen lunch set and had a lovely smoked salmon on crepe for entree, sirloin steak with pepper sauce for the main, followed by a tasting selection of the house tarts. The delicious fresh bread is also worthy of a special mention, although it does seem to be rationed out.

On a recent visit I sampled the fish mousse (pictured), which reminded me of a tasty fish quenelle that I once ate in Lyon. The service is brisk and businesslike, the atmospheric highlight being the young waiter who insisted in speaking to us completely in French. On other occasions you get the no-nonsense Japanese lady. I highly recommend this place for anyone looking for a hearty French bistro style lunch in Akasaka. Just be sure to arrive before 12pm or you may not get a table. And if you want to linger past 2.30, you will be thrown out unceremoniously! Basically their food is so good and such excellent value that they know there are plenty more where YOU came from. Consider yourself lucky.
Address: 6-3-16 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Phone: 03-5561-0980