Food without memory is just digestion

Saturday, 11 February 2006

One Perfect Day...Alladin!

11 Feb 2006

Just like the line in the song, there are things that come together to make a perfect day. While no day could be perfect without Cheryl here with me, a recent visit to Alladin, reminded me of just how good this restaurant really is! A perfect day in Tokyo would very probably include Alladin for lunch around the middle of February, just when the first crop of white asparagus has arrived from France. It would be one of those sunny late winter Tokyo days, with the sky as clear as Koizumi’s conscience, so the sun would be streaming into the area of the balcony tables. Maitre d’hotel Sato would be waiting at the door, and Chef Kawasaki would have prepared the Tarte Tartin he developed for Andreas Dannenburg. A crisp chablis, properly chilled to about 8 degrees...and Cheryl!

I have to thank Andreas for introducing me to Alladin, again in early February, and again with fresh white asparagus. This visit I was the proud host of a Frenchman who as a long-term resident of Japan had seen restaurants come and go.

Alladin has served some of Tokyo’s best French cuisine since it opened in 1993, and has consistently been at the top of the list for those in the know. How I missed it over years popping in and out of Petit Point is a long story, but a game to die for would be to be Head Judge at an Ryori Tetsujin (Iron Chef) play-off between Alladin’s Kawasaki and Petit Point’s Kitaoka...admittedly, Kitaoka-san is a Chevallier de France and has served as President of Club de Trente.

For lunch - of course - Alladin serves its guests marinated olives (it’s hard not to look greedy when you’re jabbing your guest’s fingers with the skewer) before the Amuse which was an individual warm quiche, and then a fine rillette with scrumptious baguette. For the rest of the meal, lazily spread over 2 hours, we feasted on White Asparagus in a Butter Sauce and a main of Roast Pigeon (Terry), and Salade d’ormeaux & cepes marines as a starter and a main of Fish of the Day (Flounder) for The Guest. All of it outstanding. All of it served at exactly the right temperature, showing only the lightest touch of the warming tray. All of it appearing at exactly the right time.

The the Guest made the mistake of saying no to the outrageously wonderful Tatin that I had especially asked Chef Kawasaki to prepare. His loss, but I won’t invite him there again! I have to admit to a small amount of perverse enjoyment in being able to show French people what real food is like, but sometimes luncheon guests should be treated like the finest wine…enjoyed only rarely and played for every cent.

Maitre d’hotel Sato is kind enough to pay me special attention even though I only visit every other month or so. It all makes for a relaxing and enjoyable relief from the nonsense roaring past outside in the world. In summary, Alladin is one of the restaurants that would be way up high on my list for the perfect lunch on the perfect day. Then again, I’m off to Petit Point next Monday!

As someone who has got lost on the way to Alladin, you might need the map...then again, it could just be me!

Rating: Food 9/10; Wine 8/10; Service 9/10; Ambiance 8/10 (if you’re on the balcony); Price 8/10; Total 42/50 (Terry’s Top 5)

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