L’Effervescence レフェルヴェソンス

So here we are, at L’Effervescence. IMG_5499

Unlike most restaurants of the same league in town it was relatively easy to get a table here, perhaps due to the fact that it serves up to 50 customers per night which is a big number for a Michelin-starred restaurant. My (awesomely) gluttonous friend decided to pre-book 3 extra courses on top of the standard 11-course tasting menu … We were in for a longg night! Started off with a fresh peach bellini. IMG_5501Before the meal started, we were given 4 olives that were meant to be in 2 different flavours. I wasn’t sure how subtle the difference was supposed to be so I’m not actually sure if I picked 2 of the same flavour or if I had actually tried both flavours…IMG_5502 So! We began with seabream, sakura shrimp, spring onion and sea mustard in a moussy foamy concoction accompanied by what seemed like an almost – empty small glass with two pieces of yuzu peel and ice. I am sure it was supposed to compliment the seafood mixture in some way but honestly there was too little in that glass to make any significant difference :p Despite this slightly confusing arrangement the concoction itself was delightful and made a good start for the meal.IMG_5508

Course 2 – signature apple pie – packaging purposely reminiscent of McDonald’s, revealing the chef’s playful side. Athough the “apple pie” is permanently on the menu, the filling changes from time to time. This was apple pie #14, with Burdock, Gizzard, Rosemary.IMG_5514

Moon butter ❤IMG_5517

Course 3 “has just begun~”: firefly squid & udo, salted preserved lemon emulsion, hon-wasabi, kishu-umeboshi foam. IMG_5521Firefly squid (hotaru-ika) incredibly juicy and sweet! These are deep-sea squids that have very short life-spans and emit light in the dark sea like fireflies, hence the name 🙂 IMG_5523

Course 4 “A fixed point”  – another signature dish : whole cooked turnip and parsley oil emulsion sitting on tiny pieces of Kintoa Basque ham & brioche. Definitely one of the best turnip dishes I’ve ever had! IMG_5527

Perfectly golden in the middle. IMG_5533

Course 5 “through the forest 2014” : green asparagus soup and tsubu-gai croquette, bamboo shoots, mountain cheese “quark”, white miso, Japanese mugwort oil.  I’ve always felt that asaparagus shines brightest when enjoyed either grilled or in soup form and here I am getting it in both! The condensed sweetness of asparagus was very apparent in every small sip and the croquette added a nice accent to the liquid dish.IMG_5540

Course 6 “from the sea~to the mountain” : A combination of sea and earth; ayu cooked vividly and its clear broth, guts flavored gastric sauce & tapenade, watercress, mountain sansho pepper.  We were first presented with a set of small glasses from which we had to pick one to drink the ayu broth with. IMG_5537

Crystal clear ayu broth, I was taken by the purity of this- whilst being as clear as water it was at the same time intensely flavourful ! IMG_5545

The ayu itself was cut up and cooked in 3 different ways (sounds cruel, I know). A deepfried head, one side of the body grilled with mountain sansho pepper, the other side with the gastric sauce & tapenade. IMG_5547

(L00k @ dA wAY it bENdzz)IMG_5546Course 7 “deep green” : char-roast pigeon from Vendée, fuki shoot puree and sweet & sour meat jus, mountain vegetables, black olive. Check that colour out! Still very red yet not at all bloody. Succulent and gamey with a thin, crispy layer of skin. IMG_5559

Course 8 “Imaginary picnic ~ under the loquat tree”. Naturally cooked foie gras & loquat milk, sake jelly, cucumber, salad burnet. This foie gras was silky smooth and extraordinary light – perfect considering that I was getting a little full at this point!  IMG_5565

Then came the “Right & left” Taiwanese tea. At first glance this looked like an ordinary cup of tea and I wondered what its name had anything to do with anything. But as soon as I took a sip, my first reaction was “wth?” and then it all made sense. The right side was hot and the left side was COLD!  Not even kidding. One liquid, 2 temperatures. #mindblown.  I think they probably did this by mixing liquids of 2 different consistencies, putting the hot one (thicker) into the cold one? IMG_5568

We were then presented a tray of funky knives for use in our next course.IMG_5570

Course 10 “Surf & Turf~” : Shinsyu-wagyu leg char-grill roast, geoduck clam puree & saute, sabayon sauce, spring onion, arugula & chrysanthemum leaves. IMG_5572

This was also very well executed although I started feeling very heavy after eating 2 different red meats in a row. However I was dining with someone with a bottomless stomach on this night so it only felt natural to keep eating. (excuse my poor attempt at blaming other people for over-eating :p)IMG_5577

To give myself a more “balanced” meal I opted for vegetables instead of cheese after all of the above. IMG_5581

Finally, it was dessert time! Course 12, just as I was thinking about how much I missed the UK, was named “Memory of Borough market in London~” . This was a combination of espresso jelly, goat cheese mousse, chick pea, mango, dill and date thin-crisp. An interesting combination that worked together nicely as the bitter, acidic sharpness of espresso jelly was mellowed out by the creamy cheese mousse and given a nice crunch with the thin-crisp. IMG_5586

I guess it isn’t a French tasting menu if there aren’t multiple desserts. Course 13, “Warm spring sunlight” was made of Rhubarb confit and Tochiotome strawberry, elderflower beer jelly, Earl Grey ice-cream, and molten custard cream disc with shortbread crumbs. IMG_5590Ta-da! IMG_5592

At last, a blue herb tea …

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and a final course 14, young shoot of barley ice-cream, Tonka beans milk mousse, bing cherry confit. IMG_5595

I love that none of the desserts here were too sweet. IMG_5606

Except perhaps the petit-fours – these were all very sweet, but fun to eat! Note the toothpaste shaped tube, which contains lemon curd you squeeze into the flower-shaped tart to make a mini lemon tart 😀IMG_5600

And last but not least a piece of pound cake to take home. I ate this after I got home – simple, good stuff.IMG_5609

 

L’Effervescence 

Address: 2-26-4 Nishi-azabu, Minato-ku Tokyo, 106-0031

東京都港区西麻布2-26-4

Telephone: 03-5766-9500

Website: http://www.leffervescence.jp

 

 

 

A lovely bistro – Benoit

Went to this casual French bistro near my neighbourhood for lunch. Located on the 10th and 11th floors of La Porte Aoyama, Benoit boasts some pretty nice views of the city. (That probably sounds very low for people from i.e. Hong Kong… but in Aoyama… that’s a skyscraper!)

Of all French restaurants in Tokyo, Benoit did not seem to enjoy as much of a hype as the various establishments of Joel Robuchon or places like L’Osier and Quintessance. Perhaps, after all, it is just a bistro. However, it actually belongs to the Michelin star-studded French chef Alain Ducasse and holds one Michelin star itself.

On this particularly sunny day, the large glass windows filled the restaurant with beautiful natural light; the sweet decor and pink walls made for a warm atmosphere that seemed to bring a sense of dainty girliness out of any female guest. (pedantic Feminists do not sue me for gender stereotypes!).

IMG_3979 IMG_3976 IMG_3973 IMG_3972As expected, the restaurant was filled with women and I did not spot a single man in there except one person who looked like a lesbian but might have been a girly looking man. IMG_3935IMG_3930 IMG_3929 I personally opted for the lunch set of 2 entreés, 1 main dish and 1 dessert, but I also tried a bit of almost everything everyone else on my table had. So here comes a list of all the things I tried on the day! IMG_3934Salade Benoit au foie gras de canard 
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Broccoli soup with ricotta cheese
IMG_3940 Brandade de morue (salt cod emulsion) topped with an oeuf mollet IMG_3942eggs eggs eggs ❤
IMG_3943 I also had coquillettes with jambon blanc, black truffles and comté cheese. Before the dish was served, I was asked about the amount of truffles I wanted to have as it is charged by the gram and freshly shaved upon serving.IMG_3945 The price of the truffles was extremely reasonable, although this was also reflected in the taste and insufficient aroma of the truffles. Nevertheless, the comté and truffle sauce was very tasty and this was probably my favourite entreé.
IMG_3951 For mains my aunt had this pork dish. I tried hardly any of this as I was already quite full after eating two entreés (as you can see, portions were not small).  IMG_3953I personally went for the scallops (noix de Saint-Jacques poêlées) in red wine sauce as it was obviously the lightest option available. These were fantastically sweet and succulent! The endives meunières were also fresh, soaking up the lovely sauce that had a tangy hint of orange.
IMG_3955I was full but as my Japanese aunt always said, we have a betsu-bara (other stomach) specially for desserts. My mom had this baked apple which you can get if you pay an extra 500 yen. It was good but I am very glad I didn’t go for this because what I ordered turned out to be the biggest highlight of this meal (at no extra charge too! oh oh oh oh!)

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This combo of chocolate, caramel, milk ice cream and salted caramel was simply DIVINE. I was initially tempted by every single item in the dessert menu but when salted caramel is involved it becomes a sure bet that I’d choose it over anything else unless I end up getting everything (which I didn’t, because I was on a –diet-). 

IMG_3960 It wasn’t the most delicate dessert I ever had – there were no fancy, intricate details but boy this was ORGASMIC. Like something you just want to shove in your face over and over again and not stop, EVER. This is what I call a magic stick. I think I would return just to have this again. 20140123-183615.jpg

I left feeling uber satisfied by this lunch. 
IMG_3966 IMG_3965And the bathrooms were cute too!! IMG_3967 IMG_3969

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By the way, if you come on a weekend I suggest checking out the Aoyama Farmers market to walk your heavy lunch off – it’s a mere 30 seconds away from the restaurant’s building and lots of fun. (You can find info about this here: http://whereintokyo.com/venues/25057.html)

Benoit 

Address:  Aoyama Building – 10-11 floor La Porte

5-51-8 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku

150-0001, Tokyo, Japan      東京都渋谷区神宮前5-51-8 ラ・ポルト青山10階

Website: www.benoit-tokyo.com

Telephone: +81 (3)6419 41 81

Tokujo-Tendon @ Shirou (しろう)

Today I would like to dedicate a post to my favourite ten-don in the world – the “Tokujo Ten-don” from Shirou, a restaurant located in one of the smaller side streets perpendicular to Omotesando. I was never a big fan of tempura on rice until I tried the “Tokusei Kakiage Don” at Tempura Yamanoue in Tokyo Midtown when it  first opened in 2007. (For those who are unfamiliar, Kakiage is  a form of tempura which, instead of being deep fried as whole shrimps or whole pieces of vegetables, are cut into pieces and made into little round fritters). Greatly impressed, I was gutted when I found out that the particular item was only available for the first week of the restaurant’s grand opening, and the ten-don in their usual menu was nowhere near as delicious as their mind-blowing Tokusei Kakiage which contained an overindulgent amount of small but intensely sweet scallops.

It took me a while to realize that the best substitute was actually available in my own neighbourhood! Because Shirou is not actually a tempura specialist (they do standard Japanese dishes like oyakodon, soba and gindara saikyoyaki for lunch and Kaiseki for dinner), I was pleasantly surprised at how well they managed to batter each piece of tempura in my Ten-don. At 2800 yen, I believe this is a STEAL given that the chef visits Tsukiji market every morning to pick the best produce for all the dishes they make each day. Anyway, enough writing – check the photos out!

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On top of the usual ohitashi (chilled spinach) and tsukemono (pickled veggies), the shrimp’s legs are also served in a cute little plate on the side.

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The rice also comes with a flavourful miso-soup with an abundance of nameko mushrooms.

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Those who are not hungry may also take the option of the simpler “Ten-don” which tastes just as good, only with fewer ingredients! 
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I would also recommend the Gindara Saikyoyaki here. However, do note that these dishes are only available at lunch time so you better come in the day! 🙂

Website: http://www.shiro-tokyo.jp

Address: 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前3-5-1

3-5-1, Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo Prefecture 150-0001, Japan