Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cuisine Michel Troisgros (Tokyo)

February 2011

Hyatt Regency Hotel 1F, 2-7-2 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
Tel: + 813 5321 3915

Cuisine Michel Troisgros is a 2-Michelin star French restaurant in Tokyo, and is the branch restaurant of the famed 3-star Troisgros in Roanne, France. Michel Troisgros is one of the titans of French haute-cuisine and his restaurant Troisgros is in our to-do list sometime in the near future. Therefore, it seemed appropriate for us to try his Tokyo restaurant in the meantime while we were in Tokyo, as we plan our trip to the French countryside in the coming years. The restaurant is located on the first floor of the Hyatt Regency in Nishi-Shinjuku, which appeared to be quite old with a rather dated and tired interior decor, but we were surprised that the restaurant itself was very classy.

We started with some champagne and ordered a bottle of the 1999 Vosne Romanee Premier Cru "Les Rouges" from Domaine Jean Grivot, which was a decent claret. Amuse bouche was an interesting selection of foie gras covered with sesame seeds and some samosas. Something of this restaurant reminded us of La Calandre, perhaps it was the tableware and/or the lighting (see review: La Calandre).

We started with a pumpkin soup with almonds which was very good, with the nuts providing a sweetness and a crunchy texture to the thick soup.

The bread basket was excellent and the brioche was exceptionally good, to the point that we were afraid that we would end up eating too much of it to the detriment of the rest of our meal.

The food at Cuisine Michel Troisgros tends towards the innovative with the use of fresh and natural ingredients, and every course reflected this philosophy. We had the superb scallops with basil and truffle on toasted slice-melba, which was a thin pastry with alternating slices of raw scallops, black truffle and basil leaves, with a touch of olives on the top. There was a clear diversity of tastes from the three ingredients (i.e. taste of the sea from the scallops, of the earth from the truffles and of herbs from the basil) which managed to combine very well on the palate.

The next dish was the pan-fried foie gras with slightly acidic beet, rubbed apple and pine kernel. This was one of the better foie gras paired with beet dishes which we have eaten. In our experience, beet can sometimes be too sour and this adversely affects the taste of the liver. However, this dish was well balanced in that respect. The pine nuts were an interesting touch as well.

The roasted monkfish with preserved olives, grapefruit and saffron nage was also very good. The fish was juicy with a springy texture (as good monkfish should be poached) and the saffron and grapefruit broth was a good complement.

The next dish was something rather familiar to us after the past week dining at Japanese restaurants. It was the spot prawn and squids, vanilla flavoured tomato water, celeriac and basil. This particular prawn cooked in this particular manner was similar to the sushi we had been having all week, but in this case, instead of rice, the prawn was paired exquisitely with an elegant clear broth, herbs and pieces of squid.

Finally, the meat course was the venison with orange butter, endive, black trumpets with roasted hazelnuts. This was accompanied by an excellent potato gratin side dish. Surprisingly, this was slightly underwhelming as the orange butter did not do much with the venison, although the potato and the sauces were very good.

Curiously, we weren't shown the cheese trolley (perhaps it was due to the fact that there was already a cheese dish included in the menu), but fortunately, the one piece of cheese with this dish was a blue cheese which I liked: the forme d'ambert. This was delicious together with the caramelised pear. We did find the plate familiar though, and later realised that we had seen it at Caprice in Hong Kong a month ago (check out the fish course in the earlier review: Caprice).

We particularly enjoyed dessert, as they were light and refreshing instead of the more customary heavy chocolate desserts. We started with the almonds and red berries 'soup' whereby the almond foam in the shape of clouds sat on top of a sweet water with red berries powder sprinkled thereon. This was followed by the warm hazelnut cake with orange flower sherbet which was very good.

We loved the petit four selection, what with the cute bite-sized sweets like marshmallows and mini-muffins.

We had a really great dinner here, as the food was innovative without being pretentious and every course tasted as good as it looked. We now look forward to dining at the main restaurant in Roanne.

Food: Extraordinary, we were surprised by our meal here having come here with relatively low expectations (after reading reviews from other bloggers)
Wines: Average wine list, nothing spectacular
Ambience: Comfortable and warm
Service: Genuinely friendly, though not as slick as L'Osier

Camera: Sony NEX5 16mm f/2.8

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