Thursday, 14 August 2014

Chemins: The Road Less Travelled

One astute person recently noted, Gentle Reader, that there seemed to be somewhat of a more-than-metaphysical relationship between these feverish scribblings and the erudite and interesting coverage of the EATPIA.com site. Not in any biblical sense, and certainly not officially. But that lovely site (kudos on the design and bilinguality) has played the role of Muse for Your Humble Correspondent of late, suggesting any number of venues. You see, one of the challenges of a foodie blog is finding inspiration and new destinations without giving in to the desperate flailing of publicists and would-be restaurateurs. Enter EATPIA! It is a boon and a benison, and YHC for one is grateful for small mercies. And so it was that in the inexorable scheme of things, YHC found his way to Chemins in Akasaka.
What a delight! What a joy! A beautiful venue, marvellously managed by Owner/Sommelier Shibata-san, food that takes one's breath away, and sensitive and elegant decor that all adds up to sensational. The ensemble of Lobster and Melon Vichyssoise is quite honestly one of the most delicious things Your Humble Correspondent has ever had to pleasure to sample, and the amuse of bacon and sea salt served as a Madeleine was as remarkably flavorful as it was creative. The menu was packed with decision-ticklers, and left this besotted diner determined to return to try things like Coupe de mousse de carotte en gelée, Bavaroise de petit poix et crevette emulsion de oginon nouveau, or Vol-au-vent de rognon de veau et de ris de veau à la creme.
A number of things separate Chemins from other establishments in Akasaka: quality, class, atmosphere, street-presence, price ... the list goes on and on. But the stand-out for Your Humble Correspondent was an all-infusing sense of passion. The air crackles with an electricity generated by people all fully invested and committed to playing their role to the maximum extent possible, yet with a subtle, playful professionalism and team-work that makes the time pass in a surreal time-warpy sort of way, and always results in a surprising jolt when one consults ones wristwatch.
On the (Japanese) website, Chef Satoru Nobusada has a jolly time talking about the provenance of a dizzying array of ingredients in the Topics page. One certainly gets the sense that this is a kitchen that is devoted to consistently producing interesting and challenging - and exquisite - food. Chef even took the trouble to see me off once the meal was complete, although this may have been an added security measure to ensure this portly panjandrum actually left the premises.
Unfortunately it was lunch, so fully testing out the wine list was contra-indicated. That said, Shibata-san is an expert and accomplished somm and the list itself diverse and reasonably priced. One can do much worse than taking his advice, always delivered in an engaged and an involved manner - with just a hint of challenge and itazura-ness that this punter finds thoroughly enjoyable.
Chemins has a history of excellent chefs and some time ago Restaurant Hiromichi in Meguro (link here] served as a very suitable venue for a birthday dinner for The Once and Future Blonde. Also well worth a visit, IMHO.
You should visit Chemins with fellow-foodies rather than stolid work colleagues. It is not a place for a balance sheet discussion. It is not a place to discuss business strategy. It is a place to talk about sauces, and herbs, and seasons, and plating, and ...
And if there seems to be some almost demonic giggling from the corner table, it's highly likely the ensemble has been served to Yours Truly again...
Pip! Pip!
Chemins: Akasaka Tameike Tower Residence Annex 1F 2-17-7 Akasaka Minato-ku Tel/Fax: 03-3568-3344
Rating
: Food: 9/10; Delightfulness: 8/10; Service: 8/10; Ambiance: 8/10;
Price-Performance: 8/10.
Total: 41/50 (4 Forks)

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