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, 22 May 2011

Les Rendezvous de Tokyo, Nishi Azabu

Manned by a beautiful, bubbly hostess and a talented galley-slave chef, dining at Les Rendezvous is a completely engaging experience. If you should be fortunate enough to pay a visit you need do little more than sit back and enjoy the show (well, you will also have to eat).

On a recent evening visit, my dining partner and I were treated to a delicious meal as well as a selection of paired, generously poured Australian wines. French food and Australian wine? Yes a little bit unique but, patriotically speaking, I have no objections.

For a little over 7,000 yen you can sample the degustation menu. The chef's selection is changed each month, but if you like you can switch out the courses with anything else on the menu - which my dining partner and I did. The cooking is uniformly good and as good as the service.

I would definitely recommend you try them out soon!

Amuse of kibina and daikon seeds. So fresh and delicious.

Herbed olive oil

Terrine of white cheese and capsicum suits the warmer weather well.

Foie gras with asparagus - was not too heavy at all.

This minimalist bouillabaisse had maximalist flavours.

Lamb with bok choy added a bit of an Asian touch.

Cheese platter was generous and delicious.

Excellent fondant chocolat with pistachio ice-cream

My dining partner's nougat was as good as it looks.

Tel: 03-5410-8110

Umenohana, Gaienmae 梅の花外苑前

I was first put on to Umenohana (meaning plum blossom) by my excellent Japanese teacher, Ms Genta of the Kitani Method School. Let me digress by saying that these are the best Japanese teachers in town, and have helped me tremendously in the past few years properly come to grips with that devilishly frustrating language!

They are also clearly very good at recommending food. Umenohana is part of a chain, but this does not equate to mediocrity for them. I had an extremely enjoyable lunch there some months ago, and recently tried them out again for a Sunday lunch. The food was absolutely amazing. And, as someone who never thought I could register such a high sensory hedonic score from tofu cuisine, I must say I was surprised.

My tastes are probably becoming more sensitive after having lived in Japan for so long, but this meal was superb. The service is also very good, but I would criticise our server on the latest visit for being a little bit spaced out and inattentive at times.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Umenohana for business or pleasure, and I think you could just as easily take a foreigner as a Japanese. If you can't read the menu, just pick one of the sets at random. The set my dining partner and I ate was 3,600 yen and only 1,105 calories (gotta love low fat Japanese food). That sounds like an expensive lunch set but compared to the variety, volume and quality of the meal it's an absolute steal.

Tofu with yummy, sweet green stuff!

Chawanmushi was delicious.

Crab and tofu dumpling. Wow!

Moriawase of absolutely delectable bits and pieces. I can't even describe how great this was!

Yudedofu (boiled tofu with yuba). This is yummy with a little bit of soy sauce and ginger.

Dessert (which could hardly be fitted in) of a-bitter-root-whose-name-escapes-me ice-cream and sakura mochi. Both are kind of challenging tastes if you're used to western desserts but, certainly good for something different.

Tel: 03-5412-0855

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Magure, Takanawa まぐれ白金

I've never really looked that seriously at Shirokane Takanawa as a dining area but, after having recently stayed there for a month, I can report that there are actually quite a few interesting little places around the 'hood.

Magure is a small okonomiyaki joint opposite the Esso at the end of Kitazato Dori. Be careful not to miss it as it is so discrete that it really looks like it's part of the Salvatore Cuomo restaurant which it is next to.

I'd recommend this place for atmosphere and experience. Their okonomiyaki is unique in that the pork gets sort of "tempura-d" before they add it, and also that they have a unique (well to ignorant me anyway) range of seasonings. I went at lunch but the atmosphere seems like it would be really good in the evening.

I found the okonimyaki a bit undercooked to be honest so I am not giving top ratings to the food, but go along anyway. I'm sure you'll have a good experience.
Tel: 03-5449-3939

Salt by Luke Mangan, Marunouchi ソルトバイルークマンガンシンマルビル

We all know that too much salt is bad for you, but it seems that message may not have gotten through to me yet. Salt is probably the fine-dining restaurant in Tokyo that I've eaten out the most at. So it's kind of ironic that I've never properly reviewed it. And it's also kind of ironic that Google's otherwise great service deleted the last posting I made about it for no apparent reason. Hmmm.

Salt is billed as a modern Australian restaurant and is sponsored by Australian celebrity chef Luke Mangan, whose food I am a confirmed fan of. In my humble opinion modern Australian cuisine, a style pioneered by a number of chefs in Sydney about 25 years ago, is not really that different from any other "modern" cuisine out there these days. I am not saying that it's a pretentious assignation, merely that the idea of there being a unique Australian cuisine really is not a very solid one.

Nevertheless, Salt clearly is inspired by what's being done by contemporary chefs in Australia - and that makes for some interesting cooking. Certainly, you can see that the style at Salt is different to the Franco-Italian fine (western) dining norm for Tokyo. And, as you wouldn't normally experience, all the wines are from Australia. So if you don't usually drink Australian wine you should be in for some very pleasant surprises as their cellar is very well chosen.

Although some meals are better than others, I've never failed to enjoy eating there and the service is usually pretty good. On a recent visit for lunch, my dining partner and I sampled the lunch menu and I shall post photos shortly...

I think it's about time I updated my entry on Salt at Marunouchi. This well-established "modern-Australian" restaurant is to be found in the classically stylish Shin Marunouchi Building opposite the Marunouchi exit of Tokyo station.

I have been to Salt more times than I care to remember and have always enjoyed it both for business and for pleasure. I find it better value at lunch than dinner, but this is more a judgement about the quality and volume of the lunch than the price of the dinner; which is not unreasonable for a restaurant of this style.

All the wines come from Australia, so if you don't usually partake of Australian wines when you dine out, you may be in for some interesting surprises. The salted quail egg has always been the amuse bouche of the house, and I seem never to be able to go past their liquorice lime sorbet for dessert. I've often found the beef to be particularly good but really I think you'd find it hard to go wrong with anything you order there.

Here are some happy snaps from a recent lunch. The food here is from the 3,500 yen menu. I augmented it with a glass of Semillion with my entree and a Pinot Noir with the main.

Scallops. I didn't have them this time but I've had them before and they were delicious.

Foie gras parfait was served with semi-dried raspberry, chopped strawberries and boudin noir. It was as good as it sounds.

My dining partner's snapper.

My beef with potato puree.

The famous liquorice and lime parfait.

My dining partner's Oreo pie. Not very Australian, but well we never really believed there was any such thing did we...

Tel: 03-5288-7828

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Oto Oto, Ebisu 音音恵比寿

Oto Oto is a chain izakaya whose Ebisu branch can be found in the small shopping centre attached to Ebisu Garden Place. The fact that it is a member of a chain (there are five of its type, as well as one in Paris!) should not put you off. The service and food are well above average.

Here is some eye-candy from a recent visit for dinner. The foods were accompanied with a variety of sakes, skilfully selected by my Japanese dining partner. I would highly recommend that you try it out with a large party, or for a more intimate affair. They have various seating options including a private room to allow for all types of occasion.

Amuse of fresh tomato with sweet jelly

I didn't want tomato so they brought me a vegetable version instead. Yum!

Prawn spring rolls. Slightly earthy and good.

Scallop was a bit overdone.

Delicious Caesar salad. The Japanese really know their way around one of these...

This bream sashimi was delicious.

The rice bowl with octopus was excellent.

Tel: 03-5791-7666