Saturday, 6 September 2008

a la Provencale: Coucagno

With a new edition of the Michelin Guide set to cause some more waves in Tokyo's dining landscape, I felt it was time to remedy the fact that I hadn't written up Coucgano on the top of Shibuya's Cerulean Hotel. The 1-star kitchen focuses on Provencale cuisine (although they need to work with the wait-staff who didn't know what pistou was), and the location and atmosphere are - in a word - fantastic.

I visited with a first-time acquaintance and both of us were looking for a lighter meal than any of the three set menus promised (Chef's Special [7 courses] @ Y15,000, Degustation [8 courses] @ Y18,000, and Prix Fixe [4 courses] @ Y10,000. The Gentleman chose a Salade Nicoise followed by Market-fresh grilled Fish of the Day. The fish was described as itoyori, formally itoyoridai, which has the exotic English name of Golden Threadfin Bream. Classicists among you recognize it as the Latin Nemipterus virgatus.

I felt impelled to follow the brave salad lead of The Gentleman with the Simple Seasonal Salad, but could not resist Chef's brave Low Temperature Iberico Pork with Pigs Trotters Accent. Oh my very word! As a trotter fan from many a year ago, this dish sent me into trills of delight. In this day of environmental fervour, Your Humble Correspondent is an earnest proponent of using all parts of the pig and indeed make a point to do so in my daily life. I urge the same course of action for you, Gentle Reader.

The Gentleman has, unfortunately, taken the pledge and so I was "forced" to enjoy the excellent selection of wines by the glass and indulged in a 2003 Chablis. Whoosh!

This is a restaurant that obviously deserves its single star. Service was attentive, food well crafted, the table high in the sky memorable. Two stars, however, will require much closer supervision of the wait staff and more choreography in the performance of the front-of-house. But do get along, preferably with a friend or lover, when you have a hankering for Provence. In fact, call me.

Coucgano [Cerulean Hotel]: t: 03-5492-5817
Rating: Food: 8; Wine: 7; Service: 7; Ambiance: 9 Price: 8 ($$$). Total 39/50

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