Food without memory is just digestion

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Tsushimi: A very stubborn guy from Hiroshima!

There are a number of restaurants, Gentle Reader, which one really doesn't want to publicize for fear of them getting so popular that Your Humble Correspondent might not be able to secure a reservation. Particularly 12 seat venues.
Or, heaven forbid, demand and supply comes into operation and said establishment gets beyond your Impecunious Correspondent's meagre budget. For although the sleeves are tattered and the elbow patches worn, YHC still seems to occasionally win the monthly battle to visit at least one fine establishment. And this time, triumph via Tsushimi, hiding in lowly Komaba.

Chef Seiji Tsushimi is, by any measure, an extremely experienced and wonderfully talented individual whose talent extends from kitchen to cave to interior design and tableware. He is also remarkably single-minded, occasionally veering all the way to stubborn or bloody-minded.
Very few people "hand back" (in his words!) a Michelin star by closing a restaurant on its 10th anniversary. Even less open a completely new concept venue on the same site. Fewer still insist on almost exclusively Japanese produce, with a very strong emphasis on vegetables and foraged plants. And only very, very few - can you say "Don Quixote" boys and girls? - have mainly only Japanese wines on the list.
The all-embracing theme at Tsushimi is hospitality. Hospitality born of intense passion for and pride in Japan, and expressed through some of the finest French technique one is likely to see in Tokyo. You have no doubt heard Your Humble Correspondent rattle on about technique before - the reason food is so uniformly excellent in Tokyo is the almost manic devotion to technique. Exacting technique can bring with it, though, a tendency to underplay creativity and experiment. This is not in prospect at Tsushimi.
Seiji Tsushimi is a genius, a rare solitary star in a firmament that more often feels more like a mega-galaxy. With a flair and a sense of theatre too often absent in Michelin-lauded establishments, he is a man of strong feelings and stronger passions, a man driven to realizing perfection through absolute attention to the smallest details. His professed hobby is “serendipping”, a consummation devoutly to be wished – and shared.
It would be pointless to write about the dishes with which he regaled The Professor and YHC that fine Spring afternoon. A meal with Tsushimi-san means 10 to 13 courses, each building on the last to the crescendo at the end (he also operates the very fine dessert concept venue Miravile Impact in Ginza). Each day is different, with a sharp – almost blistering – focus on “shun” or seasonality. He delights in the art of culinary ambush, springing surprises around almost every gastronomic corner. This is ambition, playfulness, and commitment at perhaps close to its best.
Chef Tsushimi advocates a self-generated style of “Cuisine Terreuse”, artfully blending “Heaven, Water and Earth” that celebrates terroir and provenance yet brings art to cuisine in a unique yet approachable manner. There is much of the “do not try this at home” in Tsushimi-san’s cooking, and a consequent awe and wonder that is sonorous and pervading.
A meal at Tsushimi engages all five senses, with a very keen eye given to the visual as well as the aural components of a meal to ensure a level equal to the olfactory, textural, and taste scintilla in the various dishes. Tsushimi-san is himself a gifted artist, yet also includes the work of a number of similarly talented individuals in the table ware, lighting and decorative elements of the restaurant.
Perhaps one waxes a little too much about Tsushimi, but you should visit it with fellow foodies and friends visiting from overseas. It is likely not a place for lovers, colleagues, or employers. There is just too much else on which to concentrate.
And should you hear a wailing and gnashing of teeth just outside the door, it is likely that this besotted gastronomic brigand has not been able to secure a seat. Be a nice chap and ask me in, won’t you?
Pip Pip!
Tsushimi:1Fl, Katagiri Bldg, 1-16-9 Komoba, Meguro-ku t: 03-6407-8024
: Food: 9/10; Stubborn-ness: 9/10; Service: 9/10; Ambiance: 9/10; Price-Performance: 9/10.
Total: 45/50 (4 Forks)



1 comment:

vijay parikh said...

have you stopped posting? the Tsushimi recommendation is simply out of this world!