Monday, November 7, 2016

Dominique Bouchet (Tokyo, JAPAN) ★★★★☆

After peppering myself with different Japanese food (ramen, tempura and tonkatsu) on the first two days, it was time for a change. I still recalled having this list of restaurants that I missed out on my last trip so I thought I should start checking a couple of those off my list.

On the top of that list was Dominique Bouchet Tokyo. Any French haute-cuisine faithful should know chef Bouchet by heart. He started his career working with Joël Robuchon (not a bad place to start your career at all!) and following his successful stints at Jamin, La Tour d'Argent and then Les Ambassadeurs at the Hôtel de Crillon where he worked as the chef de cuisine, he opened his own eponymous restaurant in Paris on rue Treilhard in 2004, where he currently holds a Michelin star.

Riding his success in Paris, the famed chef’s first overseas branch finally landed in Ginza in 2013 and immediately garnered some serious attention from foodies around the world. It was awarded with 2 Michelin stars only four months into its grand opening. In 2015, the restaurant completed its relocation from Ginza 5-chome to 1-chome while re-capturing its lost two stars in the process.

The cozy 29-seater serves modern French cuisine with a Japanese twist.

There are two set menus available at lunch - the 7-course Menu Générations (7,500yen) featuring some of the seasonal creations by the chef but if you're interested in experiencing Dominique Bouchet Tokyo's signature offerings, then the 8-course Menu Héritage (12,500yen) will definitely be your cup of tea. And Menu Héritage was the one I was after on this day.

Lunch started with a pair of lovely snacks, goat cheese cracker with a touch of celery on the left and a small croquette of lamb on the right. That was soon followed by some homemade French bread.

Onto the first course, which was a nicely designed soup course although it looked nothing like a normal bowl of soup at all. Here we have chilled white beans velouté on top of celery jelly serving with a scoop of mascarpone cheese and air dried bacon. Obviously, they were trying to send us a message that this is not going to be a traditional French fare.

I thought this was very nicely done. The temperature of the dish was perfect and what a nice way to get our taste buds ready.

Soup was immediately followed by a beautifully presented vegetable dish called Vegetables Symphony. This looks like a gorgeous piece of painting.

The symphony of seasonal vegetables consist of green peas, okra, carrot, beetroot, celery, tomato and leeks, poached in chicken stock. The key here was the three different sauces scattered around the dish including an olive and lemon sauce, black truffle emulsion and lastly a house special herbs sauce, working brilliantly with the earthy flavors of the vegetables. That was a pretty impressive salad dish.

Next up was their house specialty, blue lobster parmentier. This was a very aromatic seafood dish starting with the tower of mashed potato and diced blue lobster in the middle and finished with an Oscietra caviar butter sauce. Pretty solid but it didn't blow me away like I thought it would.

While we were still talking about the previous dish, our fish course was already waiting in the wings for us. It featured Japanese Hata fish, a white fish like cod but with a little less fat content. Looks like it's been slow-cooked and then lightly seared on the outside, before serving it on a bed of Italian red rice.

I really like the bouillon in this one which was made with fish stock (presumably from the hata fish) and red rice. Very rich and flavorful.

I think I've said it a zillion times here on this blog. I loooove French beef. The Bazas beef is considered among the best beef France has to offer and it's known for its unique flavor and well-marbled texture.

It was just lightly seasoned with some sea salt and complemented by a bit of wild mushrooms and choron sauce on the side.

That was succulent and very addictive.

Right before dessert, we were offered nine different types of tea to choose from. Tough choice since they all smelt more or less the same with the exception of the mint tea.

Dessert was probably the weakest link here this afternoon. The caramelized apple tart with apple sorbet and apple tuile looked pretty nice but I thought there was a little too much acidity there and not nearly enough sweetness to back it up.

After dessert, we got to enjoy a very nice set of petite fours along with our chosen flavor of tea.

Before we took off, we had the chance to check out their wine cellar. It wasn't the biggest in the world but it sure has some very interesting options there.

I was really happy with the way service and pacing went this afternoon. It was very clinical like you would expect from a two Michelin-starred restaurant. Food-wise, I love how Hokkaido-born executive chef Hajime Koto combines French classics with his Japanese heritage mixing Japanese ingredients (hata fish, okra etc.) well into his modern French cooking. That was the best two hours I've spent so far on this trip.

Food Rating: 8/10
Price: ¥¥¥¥
Address: Ginza Rengadori Fukujin Building 2/F, Tokyo, Japan
Closest Metro Station: Ginza-itchōme
Tel: +81 3-6264-4477

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