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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, 17 June 2012

Imahan, Yurakucho 今半有楽町

Sukiyaki was one of the first dishes I ever ate on my initial visit to Japan, so (scarily) many years ago now. For that reason the idea of sukiyaki has a slightly romantic feeling for me (or is it because of that song?)... In any case, it is an accessible cuisine that I would feel comfortable introducing any foreigner to. So, with this in mind, I brought a party of "gaijin" to Imahan at Yurakucho, which had been recommended to me as being one of the better places for sukiyaki in town.

The establishment is located in the restaurant basement of a sixties office building called the "Shin Yurakucho Building", over the road from Bic Camera. I love how the office buildings in Japan seal the feeling of the era they were built - perfectly maintained in original condition with often not even the slightest superficial architectural update. The Shin Yurakicho is a great example of this. 

I'm sure Imahan has had some sort of update to its interior in its life, but it was probably a long time ago. The decor is traditional Japanese with separated rooms, and quite pleasant. I wouldn't say that the feeling of the space is quite as premium as the prices suggest but, when you're the branch of what seems to be a culinary institution, who needs to worry about such things.

The service is impeccable and delivered by sweet, efficient ladies "of a certain age" dressed in kimono. Although cooking food in a group with a hot-pot is often part of the fun, Imahan offers a higher-class of service where you don't need to do any of the cooking yourself. You can order a variety of sets which cover sukiyaki and shabu shabu, including the option of a range of kaiseki-style starters. I opted for what seemed a reasonably generous, but not over-the-top set - and nobody in my party except me ended up being able to eat everything! 

On the positive side the food is delicious and the service excellent. On the downside the surroundings are a little bit dated and the prices are rather expensive. Nevertheless, I'd recommend Imahan as somewhere to take out-of-towners who are sure to find the experience a special one.

Assorted kaiseki-style appetisers

The beef sushi was TO DIE FOR. Absolutely one of the nicest things I've eaten in recent memory.

Tempura with ankake

Delicious wagyu  - more than enough for four people.

For the uninitiated,  Sukiyaki is beef cooked in a sweet soy sauce then dipped in egg. For foreigners the idea of the raw egg can be a bit off-putting, but it's delicious! 

After the meat, vegetables are cooked in the hot-pot.

Tel: 03-3216-4701

Friday, 1 June 2012

L'AS Omotesando, ラス表参道

It is rare these days that your (occasionally) jaded correspondent would count a restaurant as a genuine discovery but L'AS, situated just off Koto Dori in Aoyama/ Omotesando, is one. This is a fairly new restaurant, fitted out in a pleasant, contemporary style and with the kitchen pretty much in the restaurant - adding somewhat of a Japanese touch to your usual French fine-dining decor.

L'AS indeed offers a fine dining experience, but with a prix fixe set for 5,000 yen it is just about the best value in town I can think of. 5,000 yen is not cheap mind you, but the inventiveness of the cooking and the quality would command much higher prices anywhere in the world. So, how can they do it so cost effectively? I would say that its mainly because the menu is totally fixed for two weeks. Everyone who goes there eats exactly the same thing. This means that, not only are the ingredients easy to plan and the preparation fast, but the cooks get better and better at these dishes as they gradually build up their repertoire for the future.

Definitely go and try L'AS while they still have the passion of the new!

They also save money by having you pull our your own cutlery through the meal.

Open kitchen adds to the buzz

Amuse of "sora mame" (a kind of bean) served in different temperatures

Mighty decent lump of foie gras with fig jam on cinnamon tartlet

Superb bread

Salmon roll with cucumber foam on avocado puree

"Bouillabaisse" with toast and eggplant spread

Duck pie with jus

Accompanied by radish with marmalade

The pre-dessert of sweet tomato confit and olive oil

They graciously "de-banana'd" my chocolate and toffee crunch
Tel: 03-3406-0880