Dom quote

Dom quote

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, 12 April 2009

Golden Spoon, Roppongi/ Tokyo Station etc

Golden Spoon immediately brings forth memories for me of the yoghurt episode off Seinfeld where the guys discover a fat free frozen yoghurt joint, go ballistic on the yoghurt and end up putting on stacks of weight because the yoghurt's not actually fat free.

Well at Golden Spoon you can get yourself a cup of divine, creamy soft-serve that doesn't taste mingy or fat-free at all (I mean like it was raspberry and cheesecake for goodness' sake) - and all it will add to your tummy is 120 calories. It's claiming to be 100% fat free, which leaves room for lots of yummy sugar and artificial chems I guess.

Well whatever's in it, I think I'm getting hooked - I've already been to their branch opposite Midtown in Roppongi and to one in Tokyo station.

Do yourself a favour and check it out this spring and summer! I promise you it's much less calories than a Starbucks Frappuccino...

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Son, Roppongi 中國名菜 孫 六本木

Son is a modest sized Chinese restaurant in basement in the back streets of Roppongi not far from Midtown. The chef has a special qualification that takes 16 years to achieve and this alone was enough to prompt me to try it out for lunch. You can order a lunch set for 1,260 yen and given the amount of food and its quality, this is pretty hard to beat.

Just be warned though - as my dining partner and I were sipping our tea after our meal the honoured chef himself approached the table. I thought it was to introduce himself and say hello. No, actually it was to tell us to clear out!! Funny, considering there was a table right next to us with a couple of middle-aged women who'd be yakking away at each other for ages. Hmmm - well I guess you'd ever eat Chinese for the flattery.

Tel: 03-5785-3089

Pachon, Daikanyama レストラン・パッション 代官山

Pachon has been on my "to go to" list for quite a while, so I was happy when I had the chance to pop up to Daikanyama and dine there recently for lunch. The first thing that strikes you about the restaurant is its formality, which I don't find stuffy, although the effect is to take you on a bit of time warp, albeit a pleasant one. Apart from the olde-world carpet and antique furniture there is a lovely fireplace on one side of the room where you may just see your meat being cooked. The owner and chef, a certain Monsieur Pachon is a master of the Carcassone style cassoulet, which I have had the pleasure of actually eating once in Carcassone, South West France - but that's another story.

There are a range of lunch sets you can order and my dining partner and I opted for the middle of the road Menu Gourmand which comes to just under 5,000 yen for four courses. Once you've thrown in a few glasses of wine and cheese you're looking at around 25,000 yen for lunch - so be warned! After an little amuse of tomato cream mousse with crab, for my entrée I opted for the bouillabaisse terrine and my dining partner for the asparagus which is in season. This was followed by a carrot soup, and for my main I had a couple of lamp chops which indeed were cooked over the fireplace! My dining partner chose the beef cheek. After this the cheese cart arrived and in a moment of weakness we both partook of a bit of everything. Dessert was strawberries and raspberries which were served in a champagne sauce (I think) with vanilla bean ice cream. This was followed by coffee and petit fours (particularly memorable was the orange and pistaccio calisson).

All the food was of a good standard, though hardly edgy in its conception and execution; but of course this is not why one would go to Pachon. It's not a bad place for a special date or a business dinner. The service is flawless, and I am sure nobody would feel hard done by with an invitation to such a unique Tokyo institution.
Tel: 03-3476-5025

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Trattoria Tornavento, Nishi Azabu トラットリア トルナヴェント 西麻布

It was in a slight panic that I realised last Saturday night that I'd failed to book lunch for the next day. In a hurry, I turned to a trustworthy source - that of Mr Terry White, and turned up Tornavento. This purveyor of northern Italian style cuisine came with the highest of recommendations so it was with anticipation that I turned up with my dining partner for Sunday lunch.

Well, what a pleasure! The food was nothing short of superb, and I can strongly endorse Terry's recommendation. For 4,200 yen you can feast on an entrée, pasta, main, dessert and coffee. Wine by the glass is available and I partook of a nice Spumante to start and an excellent dry Tocai with my main. The entrée was a mixed plate of marinated mushroom, salad leaves, pâté, fried fish salad, white fish carpaccio and a delicious and generous slice of rare veal served with a tuna sauce. This went beautifully with their foccacia and breadsticks, which are to die for.

I selected the clam pasta and this came with spring cabbage and a disc shaped pasta stamped with a design - very unique and I think this variety is called croxetti, but stand ready to be corrected. The main event though was the lamb, which came rare, but not bloody and encrusted with toasted hazelnuts with fried potato and garlic on the side. Quite simply, this dish was AMAZING. I enjoyed every last bite and would highly recommend it if you visit and happen to see it on the menu. This was followed by a divine, light-as-air chocolate soufflé and coffee.

I can't recommend Tornavento highly enough. The cooking is first rate and the service is very friendly and efficient. Just don't get caught taking pics with your cell phone like my dining partner did. Apparently they don't like it. I have no problem to conform with the wishes of management in these sorts of things, but I do maintain that it's my food, I bought it and so I should be able to photograph it as well as eat it. Why any restaurant wouldn't want their cuisine given loads of free publicity on the web is beyond me, but I respectfully co-operate.

Anyway, don't let that discourage you if you are a picture taker - it's genuinely not a sign of arrogance and if you make it there I would love to see if you are as pleased as we were. I will be back for dinner, for sure!
Tel: 03-5775-2355

Kurosawa, Roppongi 饂飩 くろさわ 六本木

Kurosawa is a traditional Japanese udon/ soba restaurant just over the street from the Grant Hyatt. Soon after entering and seeing the old movie posters I realised that it is named after the great Akira Kurosawa.

I have to admit that the first thing that comes into my mind when I see Kurosawa's name is "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers", when of course I really mean "Seven Samurai" - that's a tricky number, seven. Anyway, the marketing line here is that the perfection of Kurosawa's movies is translated into the food.

Given the sort of high-handed, dead-serious attitude the staff give off you could imagine that they really believe that claim; but the truth is that the food is merely competent and not in line for any awards. To be frank the prices are sky high and the portions stingy.

You can almost read the mind of the management when the menu says that you will receive exactly three slices of pork in your soup or two prawns alongside your soba. The pork soba pictured was about 1,500 yen and my prawn tempura was around 1,800 - and I consider that about 30% overpriced. The food's fairly refined but I'd only come here if you need somewhere traditional but relatively accessible (the English menu helps) round Roppongi Hills, perhaps to show a visitor how local you've become.
Tel: 03-3403-9638

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Terres de Truffes, Roppongi テールドトリュフトウキョウ 六本木ヒルズ

Terres de Truffes is a temple of worship to the truffle, which you can find in one of the many lonely corners of Roppongi Hills. Roppongi Hills is, to my mind, a dog's breakfast in terms of design. I have been going there since it opened and I still manage to get lost every time I go there. Tokyo Midtown stands in stark contrast to Roppongi Hills, being well designed, easy to navigate and always full of people.

Every dish at Terres de Truffes contains truffle - that's the shtick here. For around 8,000 yen you can order a lunch set which includes an amuse, entrée, main, cheese and dessert. It's a pretty penny but if you crave this black fungus it's not a bad way to satisfy the craving. On a recent visit I sampled the set, ordering the blinis to start and the potato for main. My dining partner deviated from me only in the selection of the carbonara for his main. This was followed by a delicious cheese plate and a large scoop of ice-cream with caramel truffle sauce.

All the food was beautifully cooked and the ambiance is very luxurious - not unlike an upscale American steak house (the bull horn light fittings certainly help create that atmosphere). I have to say though that in order to justify the price they are going to need to offer more than just bits and pieces of food with lots of cream with a few microns of truffle scrapings. It's a cute idea, but I have to wonder about its staying power. The food's good, but not that stimulating if not for the truffle scrapes. Hmmm - I have to wonder what type of market still remains for this type of gimmicky indulgence. I suspect, sadly, that this costly curiosity of limited recessionary relevance may not be around for much longer.
Tel: 03-5786-6655