Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Gentil H (Tokyo, JAPAN) ★★★★☆

Shirokanedai (白金台) is a quaint little neighbourhood in Tokyo, best known as a wealthy residential area but it's also one of my favorite places to look for trendy food in town. Situated just 5 minutes from the Shirokanedai station is Gaien Nishi-dôri, or popularly known as "Platinum Street", where you would find all these modern boutiques, cafés and restaurants. This is where all the action is in Shirokanedai.

The last couple of years, the folks behind the Michelin guide have also taken notice of this foodie's haven and many of the restaurants in the area are quietly getting the recognition they deserve. That include one Michelin starred Gentil H (French), Requinquer (French) and Ginya 天ぷら 銀屋 (Tempura), all of which are just 100 metres apart from one another on Platinum Street and highly touted Tirpse is just a little further down the street.

My plan here is to check out Gentil H, a modern French Japanese fusion restaurant on the second floor of a small commercial building on Platinum Street. The restaurant is currently helmed by chef de cuisine Yoshiaki Shindo (進藤佳明), a very experienced chef who honed his skills at Joël Robuchon Roppongi and playing a key role in their capturing of two Michelin stars. Chef Shindo's cuisine is modern French and he has great respect for Japanese ingredients which is quite evidently shown in the lunch tasting menu (4,650yen).

Lunch started off quickly with an amuse bouche of chicken liver cream puff. That was a beautifully presented snack. Perhaps a sign of things to come?

Our first starter was grilled Japanese saury fish with goat cheese, purple onion and eggplant served on a crispy toast. That was just a brilliant dish. The saury fish was grilled to perfection and I love the paprika sauce for the extra kick.

Next up was potato salad. I knew this would probably be more than just a simple potato salad and I was right about that. On top of the potato slices were mussels, Hokkaido crab meat, tomatoes and crispy crackers. This was pretty refreshing with a very satisfying bite coming from the contrasting textures. The kick of saffron sauce (see the little yellow dot), I thought, was a little too subtle and perhaps a bit more of that would make this even more enjoyable (It was already pretty good).

Potato salad was followed by a hot bowl of silky smooth pumpkin soup. This was very creamy with lots of black truffles, croutons and pumpkin cubes in it. Simple but very nice results.

For my main course, I went with something from the sea. Sautéed red snapper was topped with tomato, turnip and powder made with egg white and egg yolk. After three really good dishes to start the meal, things finally began to drop off. I thought this was decent but a little one-dimensional.

Slightly better was the other main dish, roasted pork with seasonal vegetables, mushroom, and its own jus.

Dessert was Japanese pear served in different textures including panna cotta, jelly, purée and poached, along with a scoop of royal milk tea ice-cream. If refreshing our palates was what the chef had in mind, then he has definitely accomplished that with this dessert.

A little petite fours with the fall theme wrapping things up for us.

Gentil H is the kind of cozy little restaurants I've always come to enjoy in Japan. The vibe and service were excellent (despite the very little English they speak) and I'm particularly impressed with chef Shindo's brand of modern French cooking using some of the freshest Japanese ingredients. Great job!

Food Rating: 6/10
Price: ¥¥¥
Address: 〒108-0071 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Shirokanedai, 5 Chome−18−17, ゴールドフォレストビル 2/F, Tokyo, Japan
Closest Metro Station: Shirokanedai
Tel: +81 050-5447-8889
Website: www.gentil-h.com

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