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Mar 18, 2008 06:29 PM

Typical 'Western' Michelin Star meal in Tokyo

I noticed most postings on this board by fellow chowhounders have been centred on Japanese cuisine, be it sushi, Kaiseki, contemporary Japanese etc. With my memory still relatively fresh from my latest trip to Tokyo, I thought I might just talk about my experience with a typical 'Western' meal prepared by a Michelin star Japanese chef.

Three nights ago, I enjoyed a well prepared 7 course tasting menu from a small and cozy Michelin 1* Italian restaurant - Piatto Susuki. At only JPY10800 or US100 ( tax and graduity included! ), I think its a steal when compared to most of its European and'or North American counterpart!

Amuse bouche was a mixture of Fava beans, cherry tomato coulis/buffalo mozzerella , olives and pickled vegetables

The meal started off with an appertizer consisting of a trio of caparcios - tuna, octopus and a whole abalone, All delicious and refreshing with the abalone surprisingly tender.

Then came a single white asparagus wrapped with parma ham with a sunny side up quail egg atop a small pool of velvety hollandaise sauce on the side to provide an interesting 'dip'. Again, the timing of the asparagus was spot on with the tip crisp and the stem just firm enough but very juicy.

This was followed by two pasta dishes, one hot and one cold. The cold one was a nicely seasoned capellini with diced grape tomatoes and raw sweet prawns. The al dente pasta, the crisp tomatoes and the spongy prawns each providing a different texture sensation. Not a lot of places on earth would one find this dish since the 'sweet' prawns were amazingly fresh! The hot pasta was an interesting homemade spinach linguini with cheesy smoked artichoke hearts tossed with a very light cream sauce.

The fish course was the star of the evening. Its a piece of 'crispy on the outside/very moist on the inside' white fish that I'm not familiar with. Its like a cross between a sea bass and garoupa. The fish was bathe in a heavenly tasting clam/seafood broth surrounded by four ultra plump and fresh clams on the shell. Simple but very very tasty.

The meat dish was a modified veal milanese with the Wagyu veal prepared 'thick', rather than your typical thin piccata style, hence the rare pink centre. Again, only the ultra tender wagyu veal and the Japanese expertise in deep frying can make this dish possible. As for the sauce - rather than a statement, a question! How come the Japanese know how to make such great pomodoro sauces?!!

Dessert was a duo of Italian Millifuille and creme caramel. Delicious but very fattening! And the petite fours with a little cup of hot chocolate- Yummy!

Overall, a delicious meal worthy of a Michelin star. The mixture of contemporary and traditional dishes was a nice approach. Service was efficient but a bit rush. Then again, it was a packed saturday evening and we were over half an hour late!! Ooops!

Finally, an aside for fellow chowhounder 'FourSeason'. My 3 course meal of seafood soup ( HK$190 ), Spaghetti a la Vongole ( HK$480 ) and Ox tongue with cabbage ( 6 tiny pan fried morsels atop of some aged balsamic and EVOO @ HK$420 ) in HK's Da Domenica ended up costing me over US$150 !! ( before wine and coffee and no dessert ). BTW, the ox tongue was tough and ordinary tasting.


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  1. Nice one. Also, they are open very late. Still, for Italian I recommed Aso - for a similar price, try Argento Aso (1* as opposed to 2** at Ristorante Aso) in Ginza!

    10 Replies
    1. re: Asomaniac

      Actually, Aso, La Primula and Hamasaki were my first three choices. But they were all fully booked during the time I was in Tokyo.

      1. re: Charles Yu

        The reviews by Charles and Asomaniac have finally persuaded me to try one Italian meal on this upcoming trip. Now the question is which one I should select for this occasion. Seem too late to get a table at Ristorante Aso, so that leave me with Argento Aso, or Piatto Suzuki. Also tempted to try Siciliano Masshu that is getting rave reviews from other sites. Supposedly a young Italian chef who used heavy Japanese ingredients for a very reasonable set menu dinner at Yen5,000. Asomaniac: have you tried this one? Any comment? And Charles: how is the dinner at Honda and compare it to Suzuki?

        1. re: FourSeasons

          I have not been to Siciliano Masshu, but have heard fantastic things about it, definitely very much on the radar!

          If you want a contemporary Italian restaurant that is very good, but not famous and therefore usually bookable on the same day, you might want to try Angolo in Hiroo (see for the menu, altough the most exciting choices are often part of a long, set menu that you won't find on the internet). Some of their creations have a slightly Japanese feel to them (whole raw truffled egg yolk...), but mostly it is just very modern Italian cuisine. Their Italian wine list is also excellent, and the waitress mainly responsible for wine not only has very good knowledge, but also a genuine passion and love of wine that makes the whole experience of eating there more enjoyable. Their daily choices of several red and white wines by the glass are usually inspired as well. I enjoy their five course lunch on Saturdays, when we usually while away 3 or 4 hours, enjoying the food, wine and funky atmosphere.

          1. re: FourSeasons

            In fact both of them are very very similar with tendencies toward lighter and delicate contemporary taste rather than the bolder traditional approach. eg., Cold angel hair with raw prawns vs Cold spaghettini with uni and caviar. Both pasta lightly tossed with either EVOO or Pomodoro sauce.
            Actually, my friend had tried Siciliano Masshu a few weeks back and really raved about it. He told me its better than both the Michelin star resto we tried. Based on my experiences, I would actually bypass Suzuki or Honda and give Aso or SM a try.
            Its truly 'scary' how good Tokyo's food standard is!! Fourseason, remember my previous remark about how good the Spaghetti a la vongele in the family bistro La Boheme .versus HK's Da Domenica's version? More clams, more delicious and at only 1/4 the price!!
            BTW, per Klyeoh's posting over on the China board, Tokyo's L'Atalier de Robuchon was very very good, The JPY 5680 lunch was great value.

            1. re: Charles Yu

              I think I will just book Siciliano Masshu then since I will be staying at Ginza this time. The price is really reasonable too at Yen 5000 compared to above 10k for all the Michelin standards.

              Yes, I agree with you how good the food is in Tokyo. I keep getting so many comments from friends that they have tried many better restaurants outside of Michelin list. On this trip, I have to make a hard decision to give up on my old favorites and give a try to all the new ones that are raved at Chow or other sites, from Michelin guide and friends.

              No, I won't try L'atelier Robuchon in Tokyo, already had that experience in Hong Kong. I already broke my own rule of total Japanese package by selecting one Italian and one Korean meal, so not really in the mood to choose a French one at the expense of my Japanese meals.

              1. re: Charles Yu

                Hi Charles : my hotel concierge told me that Siciliano Masshu has shut down since last August but yet, your friend just went there a few weeks ago. Wondering whether it had moved to a new place with new telephone that the hotel concierge may not be aware. If you are still in Tokyo and not too much of a hassle, can you just recheck with your friends if this is the case?

                1. re: FourSeasons

                  I'm back in Toronto now. Will try contacting my friend after all this sub-prime mess settles. ( He's with Prudential Real Estate ). He had been in all day meetings the past three days!!! Poor soul! If my memory serves me right, I thihk the restaurant is in Ginza. Have you tried Googling it? Also, when you said 'shut down' , do you mean they are close for holiday or 'close'.period! Reason I asked was that Quintessence, the 3* French, was also 'closed' a few weeks back. Their reason was that the Chef was on holiday and also paying visits to France to pick up more ideas and tricks..

                  1. re: FourSeasons

                    I read online that the owner chef of Siciliano Masshu closed it last Aug (otherwise, I would've booked it myself) and opened Salone 2007 in Yokohama's Chinatown last Oct. Salone 2007 has been recommended on this board.


                    1. re: kuidaore

                      Interesting! I must have heard the name wrong from my friend. Anyway, the Italian he was raving about is definitely in Ginza, definitely a non Michelin and is definitely tastier than either Suzuki or Honda. I'll try to find out from him ASAP.

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Sic Masshu is def not in operation, don't waste your time calling or searching for it.
                        I would find it strange for another place to have such a similar name in Ginza.

          2. Hi Charles, great review. Now I wish I have a chance to try out this kind of well known Italian restaurants in Tokyo ! I am amused by the quality of the pasta I had in Tokyo even it's not from a michelin star restaurant, with the interesting, fresh ingradients, so well prepared on the al-dente pasta.

            1. Love your wonderful review, Charles - now I feel like flying to Tokyo for a gastronomic tour!

              BTW, the fish you said is "like a cross between a sea bass and garoupa" could be kinki - it's in season at the moment.

              6 Replies
              1. re: klyeoh

                You are lucky if it is the real Kinki. A head of 1 ft long Kinki can cost up to 100 US, heard that it is getting less and less nowaday as the real one in Japan only can be found in deep sea of Hokkaido, a lots of "second class" Kichigi similar to Kinki on the market are now from Alaska.

                1. re: skylineR33

                  Hi skylineR33: I thought you exaggerated the price of a kinki fish on this thread because I used to pay like 5-6,000 Yen a few years ago. It was still like 7-8,000 Yen one year ago. But I noticed on this trip that the price has gone up to 10,000 Yen, which exactly meet your above price range. It is getting more and more expensive to eat kinki nowadays. But no doubt it is just an extremely delicious one.

                  1. re: FourSeasons

                    Hey FourSeasons and skylineR33,

                    Where are some places in Tokyo that you'd recommend getting authentic Kinki? I've never tried it before and am curious about it now that you mention it. :)

                    Given the price it's going for, do you think it's worth it to try? Thanks.

                    1. re: exilekiss

                      The place that I tried kinki for last few years is Nabura Roppongi. I wrote a review a while back :

                      Kinki is actually one of my favorite fish when it is cooked in nitsuke 煮付け. If you are willing to splurge, it is worth it but I have to admit it is getting real expensive at this price range. And it is just a small fish, one person can indeed finish it off even though we usually share it among 2 to 3 persons. And you have to know how to eat it leaving no flesh on the bones as those closer to the bones gets even more delicious. And the most delicious part is actually the kinki's head: the cheeks and those flesh close to the eyes. (I often notice that westerners have problem on this part) That is the best part, in my opinion. So make sure only the bones is left behind after the meal.

                      1. re: FourSeasons

                        Ah, thanks for the info FourSeasons. :)

                        I'll make note of your recommendation next time I visit Tokyo.

                      2. re: exilekiss

                        I did not have it in Japan, but have it in Hong Kong. I also think it worths it, the texture is just silky !