Japan Travel Diary Part 7.5
Tokyo: Eating Out Edition
I apologise for my long long long absence. For a little while university took and various other personal things took over my life but now I am back!
As I mentioned in my last post, this post is going to be about some of my dining experiences in Tokyo. Although these can be classed as fancier places the prices are pretty reasonable if you go for lunch as they often have special deals. I picked these restaurants based off of how easy it was to book and also their English friendliness.
Unfortunately I forgot to take notes and the menu has long since changed so I won’t be able to go into great detail about what we ate, but hopefully this should give you a bit of a feel for the dining experience as a whole.
La Table de Joël Robuchon
I originally wanted to dine at Joël Robuchon but unfortunately all the days we were free were booked out. Not one to give up easily, I figured that dining at La Table would help save our wallets a bit and also give us a bit of a glimpse into the Robuchon empire in Tokyo.
First things first, the location of the Ebisu restaurants is utterly stunning. From afar, the restaurant seems like some important government building or historic landmark, but no, this mansion in the midst of Tokyo is actually a restaurant! My excitement kept building as I walked towards it!
The reception area of the restaurant is lovely, light and airy. As for La Table, the restaurant itself was rather bold and feminine, with purple everything. It felt a little more moody than the outside.
I picked the 3,300 yen fixed meal course, whereas Ryan picked the 4,200 yen main course.
A cute little pumpkin amuse bouche to start the meal. The colour was so vibrant!
Continuing with the cute theme, the bread is adorable mini breads from the bakery downstairs. As someone who is used to crusty breads with butter as the standard for most restaurants, I was a little surprised at how this tasted. It was distinctly Japanese tasting. That is, on the sweeter and softer side when compared to European bread. I also felt a bit perplexed at being served oil instead of butter, as all the fancy restaurants in Melbourne have really jumped onto the flavoured and hand churned butter thing right now. That said, it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t what I was expecting.
My entrée was a simple shrimp salad. My favourite part of this was the crunchy cheese and guacamole. I found some of the salad a touch too bitter but I’m sure that it was really good for me.
Ryan chose the egg plant soup for his entrée. Despite being vegetarian the flavours came through really strongly and the whole thing was just a wonderful umami hit.
For mains, I had a fish dish that unfortunately did not photograph well. I assure you, it was cooked very well and the greens were some of the most vibrant looking greens I had ever seen in my life.
Ryan’s foi gras risotto main was utterly addicting. It was so creamy, rich and lush tasting.
As for desert, we shared a tasting plate of 3 different desserts for a little bit of extra yen. There was a bit of a fruit theme going on. It was clear just from looking at this, that the plate was lovingly crafted and a lot of detail had gone into it. My favourite part visually and taste wise was the cute little apple.
As a word of warning, the dishes are rather small and if you’re hungry you should go for the more substantial offerings. However, we were content just to line our bellies without stuffing ourselves. Moreover, the meals and all the different crockery was just this amazing visual feast.
At the end of the meal we were presented with the bill and a coupon for the bakery in the basement level. To coupon could only be used today, and gave us I think 10-15% off baked goods. We were escorted to the elevator and happily picked up some delicious smelling pastries for breakfast tomorrow before leaving the building.
I’ve dined at the Taipei branch of l’atelier de Joël Robuchon before but to be honest I don’t remember all that much about it. This was a perfectly pleasant re-introduction to the world of Joël Robuchon and just a really different experience from the usual hustle and bustle that is Tokyo. With this location, it really feels like you’ve just entered some fairy tale world.
Please note that the restaurant will call the hotel that you are staying at a day or two before your booking to confirm. So don’t be confused when the reception staff call you and ask about a restaurant reservation. We had a bit of a mix up with this, but happily still managed to dine at La Table.
Beige by Alan Ducasse
From the people that bought you Breakfast at Tiffany’s, we now present, lunch at Chanel! Jokes aside, Beige by Alan Ducasse is also located in a rather extraordinary place. It sits on top of the Chanel store in Ginza, and you enter through a secret side lift. The view from the top is lovely. From where we were sitting we could see Tokyo Tower. I imagine that this would be a really romantic spot at night time.
To start, four little vegetable tartlets. They were crisp and sweet, a perfect opener to the meal
Our dining companion was this cute little frog! Each table had a slightly different one.
I believe this was a mushroom soup, although my memory is failing me a little.
Check out how pretty the butter knife is!
My appetiser was another shrimp dish. This single shrimp was out of this world in terms of freshness and sweetness. I thought that the beetroot stewed daikons were a really interesting touch and the perfect example of the restaurant’s East meets West sensibilities.
Ryan had another foi gras dish as well. I guess we are just predictable people. This time, it wasn’t as rich and the vegetables helped cut through the fattiness.
In the interests of trying something new I picked the pheasant for my main. The sauce was the standout component of this, more than the pheasant to be honest.
Ryan’s lamb. Interestingly, this was completely devoid of the distinctive lamby taste that lamb usually has and instead was incredibly soft and tender. I think this might have to do with the fact that a lot of Asian people don’t really like that lamb taste, and this dish is trying to win them over.
Some petit fours before dessert. Flawless macarons and chanel shaped chocolates! I wish they sold these chocolates so I could buy them as gifts for people.
Unfortunately the desserts that I really wanted to try weren’t available on the day so I settled for a floating island with meringues and berries on top. Though a touch tart for my personal preferences, this was really refreshing and a nice light way to end the meal, along with a cup of tea.
On the other hand, Ryan had the signature Chanel tweed cake. It’s so named because the gold leaf on top of the cake is meant to look like Chanel’s signature tweed pattern. This was unswervingly rich and almost the complete opposite of my dessert. The caramel nuts on top were also amazingly fine and delicate, but unfortunately I didn’t get a very good photo of the whole thing because it was too tall!
Maybe it was because we were in Ginza, or maybe it was the important looking people who were having lunch all around us, but for one of the first times ever when it comes to dining out, I felt rather outclassed. The service was beyond anything that I had ever experienced before! Whenever there was a new dish, it was presented by 2-3 of the perfectly dressed wait staff who placed the plates in front of us in unison. Whereas fine dining in Melbourne has recently become more of a casual affair I feel that Tokyo has very much kept with tradition. Both have their merits, but it was great to be able to experience both!
We both had the cheapest lunch set which was 5,500 yen. I thought that this was incredible value for money, taking into account the amazing service and how much a comparable meal would have cost in Melbourne.
You have to send a confirmation email after the initial booking.
Something interesting that I noticed was that a lot of the fancier Japanese restaurants have dress codes! This was and still is a pretty weird concept to me, because in Melbourne you can go to some of the fanciest restaurants in jeans and a t-shirt. That said, don’t be intimidated by the dress code, just think of it as an excuse to dress up a little and join in with the fashion fun with the rest of the Tokyoites.
See you soon! I hope to eventually finish writing up on this overseas trip before I go on my next one!