Dinner @ Nishiazabu K+ (Tokyo, Japan)

June 8, 2020 in Italian

It was from the many pictures posted on instagram that I got to know about Nishiazabu K+. Well… The then Kagero, and now Nishiazabu K+. I was particularly drawn to their shaved ice dessert (kakigori). I mean… It’s hard not to since I love kakigori and many people were raving how good theirs was.

So a bit on the restaurant’s background… Thought it may helpful because I was baffled when I got down to making my reservation; I knew the restaurant as Kagero, but it was with K+ that I made my reservation with.

Through instagrammer @andrew_gyokudari and blogger missneverfull, I learnt it all started with L’equateur. Since 2015, L’equateur (arguably the hardest-to-book French restaurant in Tokyo) would go on a 3-months hiatus every year to change its name to Kagero where head chef Yoshiyuki Ono took on his interpretation of Japanese-Italian cuisine. However by late 2017, they decided to open a new restaurant named K+. But unlike their previous practise with Kagero where it’s only opened during summer, K+ would be operational all year long. Yeah! However, while chef Ono san does not lead the kitchen at K+, the menu is produced by him.

For my reservation in March 2019, I did the booking 1 month in advanced. Ie, starts on the first date of each month for the following month’s reservation. And for overseas reservation, a non-refundable pre-payment was required. The restaurant would send the payment link via email after the reservation was made on their website.

And in my reservation, I indicated I was dining solo. To which the restaurant replied they could prepare 1 seat for me, with the course fee being ¥20,196 (tax and service charged included). After I made my pre-payment, I was further informed that I may have to pay additional cost and cover charged depending on what I ordered during my meal.

By public transport, one could choose the 10 minutes walk to K+ from Hiro-o metro station. I chose to alight at Roppongi metro station, which was a slightly longer walk of 20 to 25 minutes. And it was weird that I entered to an almost empty restaurant at 7pm. I guess I was expecting them to be ‘full house’. But that said, I guess the locals could only dine late. It’s either that or they were after the a-la carte menu which was only offered from 9pm. Cause when I left around 9.30pm, most of the tables were occupied.

After taking my counter seat, I was given the menu (pages 1, 2, 3). And for my pre-fixed course (¥17,000), I could choose 5 dishes from the appetiser section, and 5 dishes from the main course and dessert sections. And I ordered:-


1) Bread, Complimentary (above)

2) Appetiser with options of:-


  

(A) Steamed black abalone and caviar with abalone liver sauce (+ ¥700) (topmost)

(B) Marinated jelly fish with yuzu pepper (above, right)

(C) Fish carpaccio (above)

(D) Soft boiled egg with truffle (above, left)


(E) Snow crab croquette with tartare and caviar (+ ¥700) (above)

3) Main course with options of:-

(A) Sea urchin carbonara (+ ¥700) (above)

(B) Squid ink tagliolini with oyster and tomato (above)

(C) Risotto (above) – I decided to go with one of the specials; Risotto with scallop and truffle.

(D) Roasted kinka porc loin (+ ¥500) (above)

4) Dessert with options of:-


(A) Shaved ice with strawberry sauce (above)

5) Drink, Complimentary (above) – Now, I didn’t realise 3 drinks was included in my ¥17,000 course. Before I was shown the menu, the staff asked if I wanted to drink which I responded with a “water please”. And although I had the menu later, I failed to notice the fine prints stating ‘including 3 glasses drinks’. It was only towards the middle of my dinner while messaging a friend that I realised my mistake. And so, with my dessert, I requested for a sweet wine and was served this.

And for my dinner, I had to top up additional ¥3089 (including tax and service charge). Would I recommend K+? A big yes. And honestly… I couldn’t think of a better place if one is craving for (good) food late into the night too. Till today, I am still thinking about the other dishes that I didn’t get to try from their menu. Although if I had a chance to re-select my choices, I would give the jelly fish and squid ink tagliolini a miss.

So! Before I get to head down to K+ again, please try the soft cod roe gratin and the spaghetti with whitebait for me. Have only read good reviews about these 2 dishes!

NISHIAZABU K+
4-5-8 Nishiazabu, Minato City, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 港区 西麻布 4-5-8)
+81 3 6433 5141, Website, Tablelog
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Thur – Tues: 18:00 – 02:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Wed

Lunch @ Le Sputnik ル スプートニク (Tokyo, Japan)

January 8, 2019 in French

When chef-owner Jason Tan of Corner House strongly recommended Le Sputnik on his Instagram, I knew I had to check out the Michelin starred French restaurant. And thus, reservation was made on Tablecheck via Le Sputnik’s website.

Shortly after I made my reservation, I received an email from Le Sputnik team. In it, they mentioned they often serve game animals such as venison, duck, pigeon, etc for main and asked if I had any objection. To which, I replied with my dietary restriction of ‘no beef’. And at the same time, I also requested for the ‘foie gras-beetroot’ dish as I wasn’t sure if it was included in the lunch menu. So yes, if one is only lunching at Le Sputnik and wishes to have the ‘foie gras-beetroot’ dish, one would need to request for it as they don’t normally put that on the lunch menu.

It was a breeze locating Le Sputnik with Google map. Upon entry, the staff led me to my assigned table which gave me a good view of the kitchen through its full height glass door. And with that, I commenced my 8-course tasting lunch menu, ¥6000 with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Japanese pear wrapped with tile fish, served on a handpicked volcanic rock from Mount Fuji.


  

2) Dish #2 (above) – Burdock-wrapped sweet fish (ayu) placed on a huge pile of fried burdock strips. The staff mentioned the sweet fish was dusted with five spices and burdock powder, and asked me to enjoy it with the balsamic vinegar sauce. I tried my best to finish the fried burdock strips, but I just couldn’t. Too much lah.

3) Bread (above)

4) Dish #3 (above) – Cod milt (shirako) topped with burnt butter sauce, and served with olive oil and herbs.



  

5) Dish #4 (above) – Foie gras torchon and beets. And ain’t it a beauty? Assembled to look like a rose. And yes, the thin crispy beet chips were ‘stuck’ into the foie gras, which also had a layer of beet jelly over it, to hold them in position. Innovative!


6) Dish #5 (above) – Fermented mushroom crepe with grated truffle. And when this was first served, it looked pretty non-appetising because everything on the plate was brown. Ie, no vibrant colours. So thank goodness for the egg and asparagus within the crepe. And I liked how they played with (contrasting) temperatures; Warm cooked food and cold mushroom ice cream with bacon bits.


7) Dish #6 (above) – Garoupa with dashi-broth foam.

8) Dish #7 (above) – Grilled deer. And no, the (real) branch was inedible.


  

9) Dish #8 (above) – Sake kasu ice cream, and ball of yuzu jelly and chocolate mousse that’s covered with meringue sheets and grated yuzu peel. I really liked this.

10) Petit fours (above) – Cream puff choux dusted with matcha powder, and hojicha pudding with olive oil and rock salt.

11) Coffee, Complimentary (above)

I left the restaurant feeling very happy. Corner House’s chef Jason Tan was spot on with his recommendation. Food was great, atmosphere was comfortable and service was professional.

There’s no menu at Le Sputnik. Only a piece of paper to introduce the restaurant’s concept. I guess the absence of a menu was the restaurant’s intention to maintain the customers’ anticipation of what’s going to be served next. So when every dish was served, the staff would give a very detailed introduction. And a particular female waiting staff manager stood out. I liked how she was able to inject interesting comments on top of the already-lengthy introductions. I had lots of good laugh thanks to her. And throughout my meal, I could sense the team’s passion and sincerity in wanting to share chef-owner Yujiro Takahshi’s creations with customers.

As taken from their website, ‘Sputnik’ is a Russian word originally meaning a ‘travelling companion’. And as very beautifully described by website EATPIAEvery diner becomes a fellow traveler on chef Takahashi san’s gastronomy journey at Le Sputnik.

Do I recommend 1 Michelin star Le Sputnik? Definitely!

LE SPUTNIK ル スプートニク
7-9-9 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 港区 六本木 7-9-9 リッモーネ六本木 1F)
+81 3 6434 7080, Website, Tablelog
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tues – Sun : 12:00 – 15:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Tues – Sun : 18:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon

Lunch @ L’Effervescence レフェルヴェソンス (Tokyo, Japan)

May 15, 2017 in French

Worried that I may need a break from Japanese cuisine during my 8-days trip in Japan, I decided to make lunch plan at 2 Michelin stars L’Effervescence.

Thankfully, making reservation at this French restaurant wasn’t as tricky as the sushi restaurants; I didn’t have to go through hotel concierge or a local. One could make reservation on OpenTable. However, I had to contact the restaurant on their Facebook page as the online booking website required at least 2 people.

When it was confirmed that the date I wanted was available, I provided my contact details together with my food restriction and credit card details. After which, the restaurant informed that a same day cancellation and no show would incur a cancellation fee of ¥10,000 per person. They also requested me to reconfirm my booking at least 2 days in advance, else my reservation would be cancelled. Since I knew I’ll be renting a wifi modem for my trip, I knew doing the latter wasn’t an issue.

Located within a residential estate, the only way of identifying the building that housed L’Effervescence was by the craving of the restaurant’s name on the tiled wall. Without knowing that, I walked past the building twice cause I tried to locate the restaurant by searching for the unit number which unfortunately there wasn’t any.

Upon entering the restaurant, I was greeted by the receptionist who took my coat before her colleague led me to my table. Except for the white table cloths, brown cupboard and cream-coloured walls, everything else was black. Yes, including the ceiling. And what I really liked about the space was that instead of 4 concrete walls, 1 length was full-height glass which looked out to their garden. It’s a pity I didn’t get to sit by the window. It would have been such a zen experience.

I appreciated the professionalism and detail-ness when the staff assisted to pull up table cloth as I sat. Since clumsy people (like me) may accidentally step on the long table cloth and send the neatly placed utensils crashing onto the floor instead. Haha.

Each table had a designated waiting staff. Zacchari Touchane, head waiter of L’Effervescence, was assigned to my table. I also observed he attended to all non-Japanese diners. And he started me off with a welcome drink. After I took the sake saucer from a tray, Zacchari poured me Japanese sake infused with French wine as I continued to hold the cup.

And there’s only 1 lunch menu. After Zacchari doubled confirm my diet restriction of no beef, I commenced my ¥10,800 lunch with:-

1) Dish #1: A severe winter (above) – Amuse bouche were beet root jelly with botan pieces and green pea foam (above, left), and sake (nigori-zake) and mandarin sorbets (above, right). “For a refreshing taste”, Zacchari said.


  

2) Dish #2: Just like the apple pie #26 (above) – Monkfish liver, persimmon, jerusalem artichoke. I loved the presentation. Although I was unsure if it was chef-owner Shinobu Namae’s intention that it reminded me of McDonald’s pie packaging. Onto his version 26, I was told head chef Namae would add in something for every version. And I really enjoyed this. Brilliant combination.

3) Bread, Complimentary (above) – Instead of the usual butter, I was given tofu in Japanese truffle oil to spread on the bread.

4) Dish #3: A snowy day (above) – Amadai tilefish cooked in whey. Served with celeriac and olive oil.

5) Dish #4: A fixed point (above) – 4 hours cooked Tokyo turnip. Served with parsley, Basque ham & brioche. And I was told this was the signature dish of L’Effervescence. Available for lunch and dinner, and all year round.

6) Dish #5: When the cold wind blows (above) – Kegani crab & sweet potato soup, soft cod roe and wild bear caramel, salt preserved lemon. I loved how the milt was grilled to achieve the crispness on its exterior. And I was told even the crab shell was used for the broth.


7) Dish #6: The heat of the hearth (above) – Roasted duck over an open fire, guts & miso sauce, scallop & toasted nori jus, shiitake mushroom, curly-leaf spinach. Before my main course was served, I was presented with a collection of knives with different handles. They even included a silver glittery one! But I opted for a dark hue of brown. As for the cut of (duck) meat, breast and thigh were given. And I was impressed at how the skin was silted as it contributed to the extra crunchiness and gave the meat a more intense flavor of wood smoke. Totally delicious. Went superbly well with the sauce where the duck liver was used too.


8) Dish #7: Unfastened (above) – Tochiotome strawberry, white cheese ice cream, red bean meringue, mochi blanket. Served with cherry flowers preserved from the previous year, the mochi (Japanese rice cake) had to be one of the softest and thinnest I tried.


9) Dish #8: Matcha (above) – And I was treated to a green tea ceremony performed by Zacchari. Having worked for a Japanese restaurant in London before moving to Japan and joining L’Effervescence, one shouldn’t doubt Zacchari’s skill just because he’s not a Japanese. It was therapeutic as I watched his graceful yet purposeful moves.

10) Dish #9: Mignardises, “world peace” (above) – And within the lollipop was popping candy. I actually felt a little embarrassed cause I’m pretty sure the popping sound was audible by my neighbouring table. I must have spoilt the surprise (of the petit fours) for them too. Oops.

Honestly, I went to L’Effervescence to ‘break up’ my consecutive meals of Japanese cuisine. But I left the restaurant impressed by the entire dining experience. Everything was impeccable. From the ambience, food, to service.

Even as I made payment, I was surprised to be given a slice of chocolate-fig cake together with my receipt. “For you to enjoy”, Zacchari said. Such thoughtful gestures.

I definitely recommend L’Effervescence! It’s no wonder the restaurant is recognised with 2 Michelin stars and currently ranked 12 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 by S. Pellegrino.

L’EFFERVESCENCE レフェルヴェソンス
2-26-4 Nishiazabu, Minato, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 港区 西麻布 2-26-4)
+81 3 5766 9500, Website, Tablelog
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tues – Sat : 12:00 – 13:30 (L.O.)
Ambience: 9
Tues – Sat : 18:00 – 20:30 (L.O.)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon, Sun

UPDATE 1: Restaurant was awarded 2 Michelin stars by Michelin Guide Tokyo 2018.
UPDATE 2: Restaurant was awarded 2 Michelin stars by Michelin Guide Tokyo 2019.