Food without memory is just digestion

Monday, 9 February 2015

Tokyo Top Restaurants - Your Humble Correspondent's Review of 2014

"There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune".

William Shakespeare,
Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224.
Your Humble Correspondent was recently challenged, Gentle Reader, to list off his favorite (favored?) establishments for 2014. No mean task given the thousands of potential honorees, but made considerably easier by YHC's penury in this year just past. YHC thought it might be rather a hoot to list some places that perhaps many haven't visited (unknown knowns) rather than the old and bolds (known knowns)...

With gratitude to those generous souls who spent time with me in 2014, and most obviously The Once and Future Blonde ...

  1. Tsushimi: As mentioned previously, Chef Seiji Tsushimi is a genius. Very definitely a stubborn genius, but a kitchen Turing nevertheless. He focuses on the very original cuisine Terreuse with an absolute insistence on celebrating the very best Japan has to offer in terms of produce, design, and wine. A meal here is a discovery even for the most fastidious foodie - and in terms of crass considerations like value-for-money perhaps the best culinary investment you'll make in a year of fine dining.
    1Fl, Katagiri Bldg, 1-16-9 Komoba, Meguro-ku t: 03-6407-8024 
  2. Cork: Your Humble Correspondent is a very enthusiastic fan of the fruit of the vine, Gentle Reader; thus the florid cheeks and honker. Cork turns the tables on the normal restaurant model by having the guests select the wines and then matches the food to those choices. It helps that it shares a very good sommelier with a skillful chef - and that its sister venue L'As (where wines are matched to a single course menu) is co-located on the same premises. The novelty and quality of wines on offer - think a Bavarian Traminer or Portugese Green - is remarkable. And the cooking is heavenly.
    1Fl, Minami-Aoyama Kotori Bldg, 4-16-3 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku t: 090-6008-4069
  3. Sourire: Ah, this place is a joy! Seriously, seriously good. Perhaps one of the best ways of thinking about it is as one of Rummy's "unknown unknowns". One leaves the cooking and the portion details to Chef Yuzawa, and concentrates on the company and the conversation. The menu is highly seasonal so it is pointless to make a recommendation, but experiment with full confidence and courage. Be brave. A brilliant wine list (just noticed a Segla 2005 is available!).
    2Fl, AK-3 Bldg, 1-15-2 Aobadai, Meguro-ku t: 03-5784-2036
  4. Saru: Saru focuses on regional ingredients in an extremely serious way, yet manages to sustain a casual and friendly atmosphere that matches its excellent menu and highly original wine list. Chef Muramatsu seems to be having more fun than legally possible (try the Bagna Cauda or the Ezojika), and the staff are remarkably informative and helpful. There is a seafood version in Yoyogi-Uehara, and rumors of a "mountain" (yama-no-sachi) venue opening soon in the Gakugei-Daigaku area for those with chariots and prepared to venture that far.
    3-49-1 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku t:03-6450-4836
  5. Yamada Chikara: Should any of you feel like rewarding Your Humble Correspondent for his unstinting eating on your behalf, this place would be the venue-of-choice. While most Japanese chefs are strong on technique and less perhaps on creativity, Chef Yamada is a super-hero on both. Likely comes from his El Bulli experience. This is washoku stunningly re-imagined and beautifully presented.
    And the lovely Mrs. Yamada's tea ceremony as a post-prandial experience is seriously first-class. My fellow scribe Dominic has become a fan of Chef Yamada (see his post).
    1Fl, 1-15-2 Minami-Azabu, Minato-ku t:03-5942-5817

Pip Pip!

1 comment:

vijay parikh said...

Thanks very much for your posts! While I visit Tokyo frequently I do not live here. your blog posts about restaurants are heaven sent! I love Tsushimi where I also purchased the recipe book (ha!) and I look forward to trying all those on your best of 2014 list!