Food without memory is just digestion

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Le Jeu de l'assiette - No games here!

Dear Dominic is many things, Gentle Reader, but navigationally ept is not one of them. After reading his post on Le Jeu de l'assiette, I determined to venture forth with the Lordling into the wilds of Ebisu Nishi. According to the eminent Dom, the restaurant is "a few steps up the hill from the five-ways at Ebisu". Your Humble Correspondent begs to differ - it is actually quite a distance (239 metres) from the five ways. Pay no mind to either Dominic or your iPhone GPS, and be sure one's looking for establishments on the second floor!

I was exhausted, having explored vast new swathes of land for Japan and discovering at least one previously unknown tribe called the Fackarwi. These charming natives are known for their quaint habit of greeting visitors by jumping/dancing in a strange mau-mau sort of way and popping their heads above the vegetation to announce "We're the Fackarwi!". I enthusiastically joined in this ritual until I noticed the restaurant out of the corner of my eye.

I arrived to find the Lordling waiting somewhat impatiently. Odd really, because when God made time He made plenty of it. And His Lordship (sweet boy that he is) is not necessarily Mr Punctuality himself. Chef Shoehi Shimono was clattering away in the kitchen and Maitre D' Tsuyoshi Nakamura was being oddly omnipresent in a strange Norse god sort of way.

These chaps have disconcertingly linked lives - both were born outside Tokyo what seems a mere blink of time ago (1973 and 1979 respectively), both studied in a Tsuji establishment here in Japan, both toddled off to France for some study, and both were at Le Burguignon as chef and maitre d' when it opened. Chef Shimono has also worked at Troisgros in Roanne and at Taillevent in Paris - quite an impressive curriculum vitae in my book!

We chose the "White" menu which featured eight courses with such delights as Pissladiere Frites, Hagi mackarel, fois gras Poivre, a heavenly patridge and chesnut veloute, a sublime rose petal gratinee, Ezojika venison, a gorgeous warm Strawberry pieces with Vanilla bean ice cream, and the most wonderful and creative Tiramisu I've had in a long time.

Le jeu of course means "the game" and l'assiette is "plate". Chef puts a lot of emphasis on creativity and imagination, and it is easy to see that here is a restaurant where haut cuisine is the goal - a goal achieved magnificently! Each dish is a celebration of delicacy and endeavor, and is delivered with elan and alacrity by a well-trained and knowledgable floor staff. The wine list is impressive but affordable, and the service here is a treat. This venue manages to treat one like an honored friend from the moment one enters, and the meal is prepared as celebration rather than demonstration.

Le Jeu de l'assiette is a special place, perfect for friends and lovers rather than a place to impress visiting Americans. it is a foodies restaurant - best used for trysts and assignations, rather than assignments. Take my advice, Gentle Reader, and embark for deepest darkest Ebisu-Nishi at the first possible moment. But beware of the natives, and ignore Dominic's directions!

Le Jeu de l'assiette [Map]: 2-17-5 Ebisu-Nishi, Shibuya-Ku. t: 03-6415-5100
Rating: Food: 8; Wine: 8; Service: 8; Ambiance: 8; Price: 7 ($$). Total 39/50

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