There comes a time in the course of dining events, Gentle Reader, when one has to suspend judgement about concept restaurants and just toddle along for a "try". Normally, it's an under-qualified and ill-experienced wunderkind chef who is trying to make a name for him/herself by doing things like putting unsuspecting ants from Nagano Prefecture on live shrimps. Or similar ...
How menacingly vain, and totally vainglorious. One needn't worry about such nonsense at Si, which (Japanese-only) website demonstrates considerable aesthetic prowess but delivers a quite minimalist level of information. Almost coy and subdued, in fact.
Your Humble Correspondent recently visited Si in the company of a former colleague who has a very pleasant habit of finding interesting restaurants. One wonders whether in fact she could do it for a living. Do please ignore Google Maps: it is on the main street in the Honda Building above the apothecary Chuo Yakkyoku. It is not in the back street in the parking lot.
Mine Host Watanabe-san takes purity and harmony very seriously. For Heaven's sake, one is asked whether the accompanying water should be served at room temperature, slighted chilled, or quite cold. The room is decorated in the aesthetic of wabi/sabi, which can often seem quite pinchpenny but in this case seems both comfortable and comforting.
Purity in this sense means organic, it means unprocessed, and it means so incredibly flavor-packed that his second guiding principle of harmony must surely be at some level of risk. Except it's not.
That's where Harmony comes in. Each flavor is weighed against the other and textures married together to produce remarkable visual and taste pictures. At the same time, it is not molecular in any way - meaning there are ample portions that invite rather than invade, and there is substance to each course.
This Correspondent loves nothing more than a mystery wrapped in an enigma, and "unpacking" flavors is a party game often enjoyed by himself and his sainted bride. Si is a perfect place to play this little jeu, and enjoyment is magnified by the sheer incongruity of the matched ingredients. Your meal will be nearly French, but a French localized by Japanese sensitivity and attention to detail. Except for the dishes that are Japanese.
This is a place where YHC shall take extraordinary pleasure in confusing his snobbiest and irritatingly pretentious wine chums - there is not a single bottle they will guess yet all delight and inform even the most jaded palate. There are also many options aside from alcohol.
Like M. Watanabe himself, the restaurant's operating model is a little eccentric, as eccentric in fact as the orbit of the I-still-call-it-a-planet Pluto. Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are a set menu paired with even more beautifully eccentric beverages that include sake, cider, wine and bubbles. Thursday and Saturday are a la carte.
Please get along to Si with small crowds of foodies rather than tiresome colleagues. Honestly, Si is not going to appeal to everyone. Accept that, and invite only those people who agree with you, Gentle Reader. Tomahawk aficionados should look for higher ground.
And if you should want for such a companion, do drop me a line. It will be your pleasure, I'm sure...
Si: 4F Honda Bldg, Minami-Aoyama 7-14-6, Minato-Ku, 03-
Rating: Food: 8/10; Organic-ness: 8/10; Service: 8/10; Ambiance:8/10; Price-Performance: 8/10.
Total: 40/50 (3 Forks)
Akasaka Tsutsui, Akasaka 赤坂 津つ井 赤坂
3 days ago