Hello again. It has been crazily busy after spending time in Tokyo – clearing thousands of emails, updating my schedule for upcoming press events, getting ready for the WSET Advance Level, and etc… and finally, I could spare some time to work on my blog.
Lunch at Tokyo’s Le Chateau de Joël Robuchon was perhaps one of the highlights of the trip. It would rank as the top Robuchon experience that I have had in Asia.
Le Chateau de Joël Robuchon’s situated on the second floor of the villa-like building at the Ebisu Garden Place – a peaceful little patch in Tokyo. Ebisu Garden Place is a relatively high-end neighborhood in Shibuya, but if you can put shopping aside, it would still be a nice place for a walk. If I were living in or visiting Japan, I would definitely love to spend an afternoon there on a warm sunny day on one of the benches with a book in hand.
Conveniently linked with the JR Yamonote line, the place is not hard to locate. Simply get off from the Ebisu Station of the JR Yamonote line, walk through the Yebisu Skywalk and the splendid-looking building is right in front of you.
The concierge greets you warmly at the entrance, and then you’ll be lead into an intricately decorated banquet hall on the second floor. In an English unfriendly city, you might find yourself more comfortable here. Menus comes in both French and English – a plus if you don’t read Japanese and waiters understand English perfectly though not all of them are fluent in the language.
Their wine menu was all nicely categorized and presented on an Ipad with selections weighted towards the French Bordeaux and Burgundy. They do have some older vintages on the list but comparatively lighter to the wine menu from the Robuchons in Hong Kong and Macau. Wines of recent vintage dominate the list.
Four choices are available in the lunch menu – Menu Gourmand (¥12,300), Menu A with 6 courses (¥10,000), Menu B with 5 courses (¥8,000) and Menu C (¥6,000) with 3 courses, and all comes with a 15% service charge. Special dishes you could choose from in Menus A, B and C will set you back an additional ¥1,000 to ¥1,500 per dish.
As standard for every fine dining restaurant, the meal starts with a bread basket. At Le Chateau, a baguette is served before you choose your choice of bread. Olive oil,aged balsamic vinegar or butter is made available. One could tell the baguette is baked over coal – the oven imparts a toasty taste to it. You have your choice of baked goods from the bread trolley even during your meal. Your picks will be reheated and served shortly after. Personally, the baguette leaves more to be desired but the others tasted fabulously soft and fresh.
I went for a 3 course meal and chose three special dishes from the menu. To understand how well the restaurant blended incorporated Japanese ingredients into French cuisine, I purposely picked a few signature dishes with those Japanese ingredients.
The appetizer was a dish exclusive to Le Chateau de Joël Robuchon – Sea Urchin with delicate crustacean jelly and cauliflower cream (+¥1,000).
The design of the dish is typical Robuchon-style. The sea urchin which was exceptionally fresh and sweet, tucked well within the crustacean jelly. The taste profile of the jelly leaned towards the Japanese miso soup which lent a Japanese characteristic to the dish. Together with the cauliflower puree, it made a very interesting combination that would pamper and tickle your taste buds. Well recommended.
My entrée was Pan Fried “Amadai” (甘鯛in Japanese) cooked with together with the scale and served with a lily bulb yuzu scented broth (+¥1,500).
Amadai is a rather precious seasonal fish during autumn and winter in Japan, and is often used in the Kaiseki (懐石) – a multi course Japanese dinner. Found usually from the coastal areas from central to south Japan, the fish would die right after being fished out from the water so it is usually grilled than being used as a sashimi.
The fish itself doesn’t have a distinguished taste, but the texture was smooth and firm. The highlight was perhaps the pan fried edible crispy scale. Together with lily bulbs (ゆり根in Japanese/百合 in Chinese) and yuzu broth, the dish shines with an Asian personality.
The last course that I had was a Plum Custard Cake (Far aux Pruneaux in French) served with a maple syrup jelly and a plum ice-cream. The dessert wasn’t too sweet and one could tell that the ice-cream is homemade, with a smooth and creamy texture.
Instead of petit fours after dessert, they served a matcha jelly with a vanilla cream, mixed with sugar from Kyoto. The cream was smooth and the jelly was firm. I am pretty sure that the jelly was made with Agar (寒天in Japanese/大菜 in Chinese).
The coffee was pretty enjoyable as well.
The staff was quite friendly; attentive yet not too intrusive. I would say they did a good job in terms of service from my fine dining experiences. I was escorted by the manager to the door where he helped me with my coat and presented me with an “Omiyage”. A little gift of a loaf of bread.
The lunch without wine came to ¥9775. Even at this price range, I would come again the next time I am in Tokyo. It fully deserves the 3 Michelin stars. Remember to book in advance.
More fine dining reviews from Tokyo coming soon and in a week’s time I will be revisiting Hong Kong’s L’ATELIER de Joël Robuchon, which was awarded with 3 Michelin star earlier this year.
Stay in touch. Cheers.
Le Chateau de Joël Robuchon
Address:Château Restaurant Joël Robuchon, Ebisu Garden Place, 1-13-1 Mita Meguro-Ku, Tokyo