Food without memory is just digestion

Friday, 21 March 2008

Benoit - Alain Ducasse's Tokyo Adventure

Some little time ago, I had the chance to visit Benoit [Map] with The Expat and a Candidate for an "interview" over dinner. You can imagine, Gentle Reader, the expectations I had for this Michelin-starred restaurant and I'm delighted to tell you that it deserves its rating. But there's something missing ... something I can't put my finger on, but something that leaves me wanting.

The food is stunning, and the bill of fare is full of spectacularly classic french cuisine. Each of us pronounced the hors d'oeuvre selection as marvellous with the stand-outs being the Tourteau facon aspic (Spider Crab in Aspic) and Jambon persille (Marbled Ham with parsley).

The starters and the mains are equally delightful, and I recommend the Vol-au-vent, the Dodine de canard, and Risotto for starters. Follow these with Scallops dorees, Kagoshima pork, or the Filet de boeuf Rossini.

As you would expect, the wine list is excellent and we chose a Sancerre followed by a nice Chateau Neuf-du-Pape that didn't dent the pocket as much as I expected. The service is also exemplary, and both the maitre d' and the sommelier paid us more attention than we probably deserved.

Still, something's missing. Maybe it's the effort to fit a faux French brasserie into a very contemporary building, but something feels false. I'm sure that the sharp edges and the sparkly gleam will fade into a more pleasant familiarity, but now it feels a bit like a new kitchen in a new apartment ... pretty, obviously functional, but needing some dents and dings to make it feel comfortable.

Visit Benoit with someone you intend to impress (you might try asking me!). It's worth every yen, and a wonderful eating experience!

Rating: Food: 8/10; Wine: 7/10; Ambiance: 6/10; Service: 8/10; Price ($$): 7/10. Total: 36/50
Benoit [Map]: 10th floor 5-51-8, Jingumae; 03-5468-0881

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