On the final day of my holiday, I decide to have lunch at one of the hotel’s finest restaurants; Azure 45. This is one of the top French restaurants in Tokyo and it has earned itself a Michelin Star for its creativity and fine fusion of French and Japanese cuisine. It also has the most impressive view of the city skyline and Tokyo Tower. I opt for the L’Épicurien Lunch Tasting Menu with matched wines today.
The lovely selection canapés are brought out to start. The following are the selection for today:
(1) Charcoal biscuit with foie gras and fig jam
(2) Pork and pepper pastry
(3) Coconut mousse with tapioca
The canapés are each lovely in their own special way. The charcoal biscuit with foie gras and fig jam is an eclectic mix of smokiness, richness and streaky sweetness. The pork and pepper pastry is a treat of soft flakiness with the salinity of the pork making a fine impression while the coconut mousse with tapioca has the distinct tropical flavours intertwined with a crème richness. A nice way to whet the palate.
The first wine is poured for the next two courses, which is always an exciting moment.
The background music is from ‘Jubel’ by Klingande. I do not own any rights to the song.
The first dish is an onion foam with caramelised onion sorbet.
The dish is like a cloud; it displays the intermingling of the bite of onion, the sweet smokiness of caramelised onion with a good balance of textures from the foam and the frozen sorbet. The little chorizo pieces offers good salt addition to the dish. A flurry of textures, temperatures and flavours to allure every taste bud.
The second dish is a canola flower purée sauce with Japanese clams, squid, lemon cream dots and bitter lettuce leaves.
There is good balance in the dish; the salinity of the seafood, the pure clean taste of canola flower and bitter bite of lettuce which is wrapped together by the tartness of lemon. It is quite a treat and reflective of the craftsmanship where delicate flavours work harmoniously without conflicting each other.
Grace Gris de Koshu, 2016, Yamanashi, Japan
The wine is paired with the first two dishes. It’s a Koshu from Yamanashi Prefecture. On the nose there are floral and orange aromas to allure the nasal senses. A tart mouth-watering acidity defines the wine. The beautiful flavours of grapefruit and citrus flow onto the palate with a touch of bitterness in the finish. The wine’s acidity does do well to cut through the cream / richness in the first two dishes, while its mild flavour was compatible with the subtleness of the ingredients in the dishes.
The second dish is Asparagus with Gouda cheese and a Lemon Sabayon.
The sabayon is poured at the table.
The background tune is “Sundream” by RUFUS. I do not own any rights to the song.
The dish is about smoothness of flavours at one end of the spectrum and richness at the other. The mildness of the asparagus and herbs is adorned by the richness of the cheese and sabayon. The flavours are still mild and none of it overpowers the base of the dish. It is a rather simple dish which was well put together.
Felton Road Bannockburn, Riesling, 2015, Central Otago, New Zealand
It’s a New Zealand Riesling to match for this course. Tropical fruit aromas with some sweet spice notes lead the charge to introduce the wine. On the palate a super sweet fruit mix asserts itself (probably a bit too much for my liking) but there is some good solid crisp acidity from a structural perspective to balance the sweetness.
The third dish is the Abalone Pie.
The abalone is marinated in sake and dashi and wrapped in seaweed and then baked. The sauce is an abalone liver sauce and the dish is served with seaweed (konbu) on the side.
The background tune is “This Is What You Came For” by Calvin Harris – I don’t own the rights to the song.
The distinctive abalone flavour asserts itself in the dish. The seaweed, dashi and abalone; it a richness of unami and saline minerality all through and every moment is one to be savoured. The pastry on the outside is buttery and flakey and adds to the texture and the feel of the dish. A truly enjoyable experience indeed.
I Giusti & Zanza Nemorino, Bianco, 2016, Tuscany, Italy
The wine is from Tusancy and is a blend of Trebbiano and Semillion. It is reflective of one’s daydreams of the Tuscan hills with wonderful olive aromas on nose. There are some honey and floral notes which are interesting. On the palate the olive, lemon and spice flavours resonate very strongly on the taste buds. A light salinity in the finish are quite impressive along with the wine’s rich texture. It proves the perfect match for the abalone.
“Sous la mère” French Suckling Veal
The fourth dish is the veal “sous la mère” with miso, rocket purée and olives.
The veal is cooked rare and parlays its full flavour. The rocket purée has a peppery hint, while the olives and tapenade unleash a tart saline Mediterranean streak. The sauce poured over the veal is a miso with reduction. It’s mild with some sweetness to balance salinity in veal. A well-integrated dish with the right flavours and textures.
Chateau de Marsannay, Marsannay Rouge, 2013, Burgundy, France
The wine has aromas of fresh red fruits and a hint of smoke. It’s a full-bodied Pinot, classic Burgundy with cherry flavours a touch of spice, smoke and a hint of bitterness in the finish. There were some soft tannins which made the wine a good choice to go with the lean veal.
The background tune I have used is “Wake Me Up” by Avicii – I don’t own the rights to the song.
The pre-dessert is a fromage mousse with banana sauce.
The cheese mousse has a rice flavour while the base banana sauce has actual chunks of soft bananas in it for a light gentle flavour to ease into dessert.
I am offered a selection of desserts and I choose the Matcha Brûlée.
The matcha brûlée is quite an interesting dessert. There is no sugar on top as a standard brûlée but has a crunchy black sesame tuile. The brûlée is paired with a light coconut ice cream. In the centre of the matcha brûlée is an orange fruit compote.
The symphony of bitterness, sweetness, fruit and coconut proves to be amazingly congruous. The textures are crunchy, creamy and jelly-like with each different aspect dancing in tandem together. It is a dazzle indeed.
I didn’t have a wine to pair for the dessert so I ordered a good red wine from menu to pair.
Domaine De Cébène Ex Arena, Faugères, 2012, Languedoc, France
A beautiful wine with very expressive cherry and sweet spice aromas. On the palate the fruit flavours continues with savoury, herb and spicy sweet notes and some fine tannins to match .
Post Dessert Tasters
Three little post dessert tasters are brought out:
(1) Crème caramel inside a meringue
(2) Orange crème with sugar coating
(3) Spicy chocolate
It’s a nice flow into he finish with a crème caramel meringue providing a sugar smoky burst on the palate, the orange crème is lighter than expected and the electric flow of cacao and spice defines the final taster.
A very enjoyable experience to cap off my holiday. The dishes were well crafted with contrasts and variety of textures, flavours and temperatures. A mix of rich French influence with the subtle Japanese unami bases. Most of the dishes were served in Escoffier style with sauces poured at the table. The wines matched quite well with the dishes with a selection from Japan, New Zealand, Italy and France. The views were stunning and the service impeccable at each turn. The signature to any holiday is a leisurely lunch.