Notes from Tokyo: Les Creations de Narisawa

November 9, 2013

White. Pristine. Pure.  That's the impression you get when you walk in the door of this beautiful modern restaurant. All clean lines, white linen, sparkling glass. This spare room is a stage for the food: you sit down and wait for the curtain to rise.

The menu announces "The Autumn Collection: Evolve with the Forest."  So we're in fashion territory, as much as food.  And here is how we are wearing our bread and butter today:


The bread (well, to be honest, one of many fantastic breads) is baked right at the table, in a little stone crock.  It's wonderful stuff, chewy, laced with one of the Japanese lemons, and you take one bite, and then another, chasing the flavors until it's gone. The butter – dusted with charcoal, rolled in "moss" is irresistible too.

There are many dream-like courses.  This langoustine appears, clearly vying for the title of world's best-dressed crustacean. Lovely as it is, it tastes even better. 


Then there is  the amazing squid, which is dressed at the table in a nitrogeon vinaigrette, all showy misty, steam that slowly evolves into a wonderful sauce.  (And as soon as I figure out how to embed video in this blog, I'll show you how it begins with solids spooned onto the hot seafood, and deliquesces into a little river of the most delicious sauce.)

Then there is a soup, the intense broth made with this wicked creature, who proudly struts his stuff along the runway of the table, terrifying everyone:

 The broth has soft chunks of bitter melon that melt in your mouth, and fatty, chewy and yet somehow crisp chunks of pork.

Next came beautiful plates, each holding a package, tied up like a gift. Servers prance around the table, opening each one so that vaporous mist rises through the dining room, perfuming it with the scent of tilefish, matsutake mushroom and the turtle essence in which its all been cooked. 


Then the meat appears, a fashion statement, a vision in black.


It is quickly whisked away, to return wearing a new outfit:


Can you see the stripes of fat?  It's an amazing piece of beef, adorned with what may  be the tastiest little piece of onion I have ever tasted. 

Cheese is next; when did the Japanese start making cheese this good?  There's a washed rind cheese that reminds me of Epoisses – dense, runny, funky – and a cheddar-like cheese as well. Best of all? It comes with this bread:


After all this, you're expecting the dessert to be the bridal gown of this fashion event, and it does not disappoint.  It comes to the table in a flash of shape and color, and everyone gasps. They're gorgeous, these little pastries – although to be honest, they're made more for the eye as the mouth. 


 Les Creations de Narisawa.  If you go to Tokyo, go. As they say in France, vaut le voyage.




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