CLICK ON THE MAIN PHOTO ABOVE TO VIEW CAPTIONS IN GALLERY FORMAT
Image 1: Situated beside the Sony Computer building, this is regarded as the best restaurant in Asia according to The S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants list.
Image 2: www.narisawa-yoshihiro.com
Closed on Sunday and Christmas period.
Image 3: This is the prestige trophy from London that attracted us here. Many, including me, asked the same question: How can the best restaurant in Japan be a French cuisine? I was glad that I made a visit as the meal provided a clear answer.
Image 4: The modern dining room allows diners to observe the intense action and collaborated teamwork in the kitchen.
Image 5: We have been to all the big names in Europe and I thought there was nothing chef Narisawa could possibly do to impress us, but I was wrong, terribly wrong!
Image 6: The Gift from the Nature menu consists of three categories: Mountain, Sea, and Forest. My first impression of the menu was a merging of the style of Noma, the techniques of Mugaritz, the eye-openers of Fat Duck, along with strong seasonal flavours of Japan.
Image 7: However, once the meal began, I quickly sensed the originality of his cooking. It was neither Japanese nor French, but a NARISAWA cuisine!!!
Image 8: Our first stop of this culinary journey was deep into the Forest for a bread making demonstration. A tube with dough was being warmed up which would take 20min to rise.
SEE VIDEO HERE
Image 9: While we were waiting for the dough to expand, a short break to the Mountain for a tasting of baby sweetfish from the river. Deep fried chiayu with caramelized sakura, which had a distinct floral aroma, gave us a sense of Spring! Wow, looks like the fish are still swimming in full action!
Then things got more unique -- oyster from Hokkaido covered in leek ash.
Image 11: This reminded us of the whole edible oyster including the shell at Akelare. The moist oyster was lovely by itself and we were glad that the ash did not give any strong taste.
Image 12: Loved the nature theme here! The radish looked like it was just pulled out from the soil, made with mustard seed and salt.
Revisiting the Forest to check out our bread.
Well expanded and ready to bake.
Image 16: The dough was transferred into a hot stone bowl...
SEE VIDEO HERE
Image 17: ... cover it up for 12min and ready to eat! It was a fun meal so far. Whoever label this restaurant as French has made a big mistake! Yes, chef Narisawa had training in France, but there was nothing we had so far that resembled any of our meal in France!
Image 18: While we continued to wait for the bread to bake, another table side display. This place really kept us entertained!
SEE VIDEO HERE
Image 19: A deep frozen Basque sauce using Liquid Nitrogen.
SEE VIDEO HERE
Image 20: Laying the chilled sauce on top of a grilled squid, the result:
"Ash 2009" Wind of Basque!
Image 21: Visual wonders aside, it was really a delicious dish! The stimulating Basque spice, deep seductive olive paste, charcoal aroma from the grill, along with the temperature contrast between "steaming cold" sauce and warm tender squid. Truly exquisite dish!
Image 22: It's time to go back into the Forest for our bread. Intriguing, isn't it?! I thought Robuchon had the best bread presentation with the whole bread trolley, but this freshly made bread beats them all!
SEE VIDEO HERE
Fresh bread from the Forest...
... served with a plant pot!
Image 25: It was actually a creamy butter with crispy olive and tiny sprout of red cabbage. Superb show! The most elaborated bread serving ever!
Image 26: They then offered two different preparations of foie gras: a fruity seared version and a poached version. Nested inside this colourful garden of vegetables were ...
Image 27: ... seared foie gras and strawberries. This silky foie gras was perfectly seared with a thin crispy skin. This course was almost perfect except for the slight bitterness from the vegetables!
Image 28: We were never a fan of poached foie gras after our experience at Mugaritz with a disgusting offal smell. I donâ€™t know how, but chef Narisawa poached it like nobody else, resulting in one of the best dishes in my life!
Image 29: The liver had a unique creamy texture soaked in a remarkably tasty ham and duck soup. We loved the umami-rich soup in Japan as each sip made us want another sip! This course liberated us from the negative perception of poached foie gras!
Image 30: Moving from the Mountain to the Sea, two different preparations of "Ise Ebi" (Spiny lobster) from Suruga bay: a fruity grilled version and a poached version.
Grilled whole lobster tail with a slightly overpowering tangy orange saffron sauce.
Image 32: The other version was lightly grilled then poached in a ham and vegetable broth dusted with black pepper. The lobster was timed beautifully with an excellent resisting texture.
Image 33: Even the vegetable underneath was remarkably fresh. We loved the quality of ingredients here and the long-lasting savouriness from the soup. I didn't leave a single drop of the broth behind. Well done chef Narisawa!
Image 34: Everyone in the kitchen was in full action non-stop throughout the whole service. They showed an incredible team effort especially before the delivery of each course!
Image 35: The fish of the day was Snapper. Again, two preparations - First one with broccoli rabe and almond sauce. The fish was precisely cooked with a touch of pink, but the sauce was a little too much on the sweet side.
Second preparation was covered in a smoked foam garnished with caramelised onion and tomato.
Image 37: A concentrated smoky fragrance nicely carried throughout the dish. Again, we admired the freshess of all ingredients!
Image 38: After the Sea, we were back to the Forest for some game hunting. A new creation by Narisawa of roasted quail with a raisin reduction. Look at this wildwood plating!
SEE VIDEO HERE
Image 39: This woody edible decoration is made with fried potato skin, sakura leaves, and a black stick of fried gobÅ (the taproot of young burdock plants) sprinkled with cassava powder (plant that made tapioca).
Image 40: This tempura green wild vegetable is called fukinoto. We appreciate the chef's extra thought in making such an eye-appealing artwork.
It also came with a tiny wooden cup of oak distillation.
Image 42: More meat - "Sumi 2009" Matsuzaka beef
This piece of black meat reminded us of Mugaritz. Sumi means cooking through "carbonization" of ingredients. This piece of meat was cooked at 55 degree Celsius liquid for 60min then covered in ash.
Image 43: It was served with a bamboo cup of liquid nitrogen frozen sake. Accompanied by red wine sauce, this was a lean but tender meat rather than those well-marbled fatty ones.
It was an interesting rice wine pairing.
Image 45: Time to settle in for dessert after a fascinating journey through the Forest, the Mountain, and the Sea!
Image 46: A pre-dessert of fresh strawberry and foam topped with an almond ice cream.
Image 47: Then, caramel soufflÃ© and walnut ice cream.
Image 48: Initially, I was a bit concerned as it sounded like a heavy sweet dessert, but not at all! It was just right along with the mild nutty bitterness from the walnut ice cream. Very good dessert indeed!
Image 49: Still one more eye-opener to finish our meal -- a large selection of petits-four!!!
SEE VIDEO HERE
There were two types of flourless chocolate cake at the top, strawberry tart on the left...
... various macarons, madeleine, banana cake, brownies, apple tart...
... a unique sugar cane macaron, chocolate truffle, and resting on the spoon was walnut cake...
... and a whole spectrum of macaron!!!
Image 53: Macaron of the season: Sakura, yuzu, and strawberry. Unlike our experience in Paris, the macaron in Japan tends to be less sweet but with more intense natural flavour. We like them a lot.
Image 54: That's it. It was one of those meals that we didn't want it to end. We were impressed by both the creation and the execution of this Gift of the Nature Spring menu. We want to come back in the Summer, in the Fall, and in the Winter to experience the annual cycle of the Nature!
Image 55: The "Best in Asia" trophy here was well-deserved. It was a stunning performance by chef Narisawa and I am more than convinced that it will stay in the 50 Best list for a while! You can find loads of top-notch sushi or tempura all over Japan, but there is only one place in the world where you can experience the cuisine of Narisawa!