Tokyo after 10 years. Is the city still kicking...?
2009. szeptember 15., kedd
This is a special for my dear friends Alessandra (who has been solicited me to write in English) and Shawn, both wonderful (professional) chefs, whish you could be here, err.. Alessandra, being a vegetarian might not have enjoyed every item, but hey, life cannot be perfect.
The evening did not start off too well, as Judit and her designer-troupe got locked in a three-hour traffic jam around Odaiba, they had plenty of time admire the beauty of the Rainbow bridge. I was lucky to leave the group earlier, skipping the last exhibition, thus I got home more or less smoothly by train, although that time I did not feel it was so great. But big miseries bore big reliefs, so the time I got to the restaurant, the mood was already high, aided by the excellent champagne. Soon we received a tiny cup of green, soup-like substance, according the menu it was "Amuse bouche" (whatever it means) - it was topped with slim slices of red pepper and tiny pieces of okra, went great with the champagne.
Than we were served two spoonful (it was served in two spoons!) of uni, rolled in thin slices of raw Kobe beef, plus a bit of caviar on the top, chef's special, they said. Indeed, it was really special... the uni harmonized with the beef extremely well and by that time we received a fresh and flowery chardonnay (dunno the name, sorry...) which was a treat with the silky uni-roll.
Next came something really funky: little pieces of grilled anago on the top of foi gras + some balsamic vingar souce! and the goose liver was from - where else? Hungary! The foig gras was grilled slightly crunchy, which created a truly nice texture to this composition. This was followed by a salad of veggies with some deep-fried fish, nice, but did not measure up in creativity to the former two dishes.
The intended pinnacle of the evening was charcoaled Kobe beef (Yamashita-san is from Kobe, don't forget!) with grilled veggies and "radish and seaweed sauce". Well, as one can expect, the beef was perfectly tender, juicy, slightly - but not overtly - rare. Judit, who is not a big friend of bloody steaks, was also throughly impressed. And what wine came with it! a truly wonderful Australian Merlot + Shiraz couvee, from the cellar of Peter Lehmann (it seems that fortunately at least one of the Lehmann Brothers avoided the finance industry), with a velvety, fruity richness and long-long aftertaste.
After the steak, with a surprising turn, two negiri-zsushi appeared; a maguro and an aji (sardine) both are shun-no-mono, the aji was gracefully seasoned with yuzu. We love yuzu; I guess if I have to pick one taste that would represent for me Japan, this would be it... The dessert tofu and figues in salty wine jelly. It was again really unique; but I will not remember the dinner because of this. The best moments unquestionably came at the beginning: the uni/beef and the foie gras/anago combos.
After the dinner I learned from the home-page that that was the "Akamatsu" menu, for 11.000 yen. I'm not saying it is a steal, but - provided the quality and innovation - it is well worth it (actually, I expected a higher figure). If you want a truly memorable dinner and don't mind spending this much it is certainly recommended. (Well, best to be invited, as we were....).
Food: 9/10 (just to leave some space for the future)
Decor: 7/10 (nice but not astonishing)
Price/performance: 7/10 (I think this is pretty good at this price level..)
Unfortunately I did not take any pictures, so I have borrowed some from the webpage. You can read more about the Hal Yamashita restaurant at Midtown here.