For those in the "business", Gentle Reader, there are certain signs at a restaurant which invariably indicate that one should flee immediately. Carpet sufficiently thick to muffle the screams of the diners, mirrors that retchingly reflect back garish pinks and purples, or floor to ceiling windows that signal the patronage is more on display than the food. One should never have to dine cognito. Or names: Mama's Italian (because it's not), Fong's Sushi, or anything with Kimchi in the title. Or words like Bombay, Goulash, or European. Clear claxons signaling despair and disappointment.
Sublime in Shinbashi (soon to be Azabu Juban) is very much an exception. Owner Eiichi Yamada could have just as easily named it "Exquisite", "Spectacular", or "Magnificent", except this particular nomen is exactly descriptive and a promise delivered.
Glad to follow Jay Rayner's Ten (food) Commandments, Your Humble Correspondent recently visited Sublime with two tall and elegant gentlemen celebrating birthdays and a beautiful lady celebrating the company.
At every turn, one finds oneself reaching for superlatives to describe the cuisine, the carte de vin, and the service. One knows one's in a foodie temple when all the staff exude sheer joy from just having a part to play, and when the menu is an invitation rather than an examination. There is only a single course offered, although allergies and dislikes are well catered for as well.
Chef Junichi Kato is a playful and entirely compleat genius, time shifted from Versailles to Tokyo yet also remarkably skilled at contemporary tastes and techniques that leave his fortunate patrons equally amazed yet anticipating what is coming next. The produce on display is allowed to both surprise and perform, and the plating is worthy of curation. His menu is determined daily, and reflects detailed seasonality (think 72 of them!) as well as exuberant freshness.
Your Humble Correspondent is in awe of a wine list that reflects excellence and informed eccentricity yet does not tip over into avarice in pricing. One's current fetish with Jura was adequately satisfied, as was a need for effervescent sustenance with rarer cuvees.
Service is simultaneously refined and informed, and we were thankfully spared the agony of knowing the servers' names and preferences. Chef himself journeyed several times table-wards, with tantalizing snippets of information that were brief yet sufficient. Every member of the service team was knowledgeable, efficient, and idiosyncratic in the best possible sense of the word.
Our time was far too brief (a mere 2.5 hours!) yet unrushed and remarkably satisfying. Your Humble Correspondent has not dined this well since - well, a few venues but still ... Sublime won its first Michelin star in 2016, but there is no doubt that it will continue to collect accolades in the same way a lissome maiden collects admirers.
One should rush to Sublime with close friends or lovers, as this is a consummation designed to delight and engage so there is little time for frivolous dalliance with "business". And should you see a golem gnashing outside, at least share the photographs!
Sublime: B1F Roigent Bldg, Shimbashi 5-7-7, Minato-Ku, 03-3578-8831
Rating: Food: 9/10; Sublimity: 9/10; Service: 9/10; Ambiance:8/10; Price-Performance: 8/10.
Total: 43/50 (4 Forks)
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