Saturday, June 9, 2018

Narisawa (Tokyo)

October 2017

Minami Aoyama 2-6-15, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0062, Japan
Tel: +81 3 5785 0799

Our visit to Narisawa was long overdue. It was after all our first trip to Tokyo since 2011 and during that time, Narisawa gained much international attention, to large part because of its increasing omnipresence in The World's 50 Best Restaurants list over the past decade. When our trip to Tokyo this time was confirmed, Narisawa was the first restaurant we tried to book and to our good fortune, a table was secured. Located in the quiet and upmarket Aoyama district in Central Tokyo, it is easily accessible by subway, but we encountered a heavy downpour at that time and had to brave a good distance of unsheltered streets from the subway exit to reach the restaurant.

The dining room was a small but cozy space, decorated in the style of Japanese minimalism with modern edges. Their very international staff provided us with flawless service that night, and the pace of the meal was just right. The meal was also excellent, with every single course making sense in the order with which it was served, in tune with the autumn forest theme. Particularly memorable were the quail dish and the grapes dessert. As with any top restaurant specialising in 'cross-over' cuisine, there is always the question of whether the cuisine is Modern European with a local twist (which is more commonly the case), or vice versa. What pleasantly surprised us was that Narisawa (at least for the meal we had there) was the latter: it was essentially a modern Kaiseki meal which used mostly Japanese cooking techniques on a variety of different locally-sourced ingredients to create a very balanced taste profile, but wrapped in a quintessentially Modern European dining experience (e.g. our meal was nicely accompanied by a bottle of their house Blanc de Blanc champagne).

Satoyama Scenery and Essence of the Forest

- spring water - slight bamboo taste from the bamboo cup
- spinach and bamboo powder over sesame paste with twigs made of rice crackers

"Bread of the Forest 2010" - Moss

- chestnut bread, allowed to rise on table

Sweet Shrimp, Ishikawa - Hebesu, Miyazaki

- shrimp with dashi stock, slight tanginess
- in the style of cerviche

Salmon Roe, Hokkaido - Sudachi, Tokushima
Sea Urchin, Wakayama - Green Yuzu, Aichi

- sea urchin was on bed of chopped squid

Continuation of bread - put in a hot stone bowl and left to cook

Akashi Sea Bream, Hyogo
Kurakakoi Kombu, Rebun Island, Hokkaido

Completed bread with 'moss' butter

Bonito, Yamaguchi - Kabosu, Oita

Eggplant, Kyoto

- eggplant done 3 ways, covered with tomato water jelly and shitake mushrooms

Spiny Lobster, Kanagawa - Onion, Hyogo

- onion cream, sweet onion deglaze

Quail, Aichi - Burdock, Mie

- quail was perfect, intense charcoal-grilled flavours
- barley risotto base

Rosy Sea Bass, Ishikawa

- zucchini, tomato salsa

"Sumi 2008" Kobe Beef, Hyogo

- charcoal grilled rump steak
- intense sauce of red wine, beef stock and steam-aged for 48 hours
- gingko nuts and japanese pepper

6 Kinds of Grapes, Oita

- many different flavours and textures with yuzu sorbet. Superb

Chestnut, Kumamoto

- in season, very good

Matcha, Fukuoka

- looks like macaron but is rice cracker filled with red bean like traditional Japanese dessert.

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