Food without memory is just digestion

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Sens - A little faux

A life on the gin-and-tonic front lines of business, Gentle Reader, leaves one somewhat gnarled and immune to the blandishments of luxury brands and "bling". A gentleman nevers pays attention to decoration, but rather focuses on companions and the purpose at hand. He certainly never takes price into account, preferring quality to fashion.

This is rather difficult to achieve at Sens, given the omnipresent and overwhelming effort that has been put into paying homage to Louis XIV style magnificence and gild. To get some idea of what confronted your Humble Correspondent on a recent visit to Sens, suspend disbelief and click on this link.

The French word "sens" can mean the physical senses like sight, touch, taste, and scent. I would counsel the operators of Sens that they may have gone a little overboard with the "sight" element, and perhaps a little under-board with the "taste" element at sister establishment Ginger's Beach in the Bay Quarter area of Yokohama. It's odd really - Sens serves reasonable food but the decoration lacks "taste"; and Ginger's Beach is light on the ocular senses, but the food lacks "taste". Ginger is apparently a Hawaiian chap, so perhaps there's more logic to this than your Humble Correspondent imagines. But I digress (again).

The menu at Sens is what one might expect - inspired by both French and Italian cuisine, there's little that can be poor, and less that might be excellent. My terrine was passing pleasant, and the beef fillet was better than most at this price. The menu feels like it was designed to be both sophisticated and approachable for less experienced punters, rather than reflecting Chef's particular preferences or peccadilloes. The wine list is similarly predictable and affordable. (Note the lack of the adjective "imaginative" in the previous sentence.)

But a word of warning - Sens is without doubt a "date spot", where the ganging (Scot: to go or walk [Old English: gangan]) hordes of nearly-30's and professional singles gather to mutually gauge matrimonial suitability. [Thought: Perhaps the feckless Jon may want to visit ...]

The decor should have been a siren warning to me, I admit. But at the same time, this restaurant is a (slight) cut above most of its colleagues in the Azabu Juban and the B1 dining area is less gaudy than the opulent ground floor... which is like saying that The Winter Palace in St Petersburg is less gaudy than Versailles.

I wouldn't recommend a special trip to Sens by any stretch of the imagination, but should you find yourself in the vicinity and wanting something more than yakiniku or pale imitations of Spanish tapas you could do worse than drop in.

But perhaps you might want to make sure the RayBan's are in ready reach. After a visit to Sens, the Taj Mahal will seem like a sensory deprivation experience!

Sens: 4-3-1 Azabu-Juban, Minato Ward. t: 03-3453-6515
Rating: Food: 6/10; Wine: 6/10; Service: 6/10; Bling: 7/10; Price: ($$) 7/10. Total: 32/50

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