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Apr 8, 2008 02:40 PM

Aronia de Takazawa

Does anyone have any reports about this place? I know people here have tried to get reservations (and have mostly failed), but I haven't read anything from anyone who has been there.

I'm trying to get a reservation for one, which I know will be incredibly difficult given they only have two tables, but I'm wondering if I should give up and try somewhere else. I have read of one person who managed to score a table for one, so I know it's possible!

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  1. FourSeasons, guess we are all waiting to hear from you!!! Ha! How does your psychedelic meal in Takazawa compare with Ryugin?

    7 Replies
    1. re: Charles Yu

      Hi prasantrin & Charles:

      I just had lunch last week at Ariona de Takazawa. Reservation was made 6 weeks prior but dinner spots were full for the week so I could only settle for the lunch. I believe 2 months advanced is needed for dinner reservation as I was told last week that the dinners were fully booked till end of May. Chef Takazawa told me that he will limit to maximum 10 guests at each dining as the quality will be compromised beyond that number. The best bet would be to settle for lunch.

      The meal was incredible. All the meals were the creation of chef Takazawa with heavy Japanese ingredients but he called it "New French". If my recollection is correct, we started with amaebi with macademia & marble syrup, then 2 breads made of green tea and cherry blossom with okinawa pork patate; followed with 15 tiny bits of vegetables in jelly; 4 types of sashimi; foie gras creme buree with mango pieces; pasta made of wakame and clams; fugu karaage with mafugu coated with certain herbs (don't know what it was) to enhance the flavor and a deep fried cheek; finished with kumamoto beef steak. Deserts include a menthol floss on a miniature egg beater and NZ mauka honey ice cream. The first few dishes were creatively artistically presented, they were delicious but did not really "wow" me. But the last few dishes were incredibly good. The fugu was the best fugu I ever had; so is the steak.

      I enjoyed both the meals at Takazawa and Ryugin. Maybe Ryugin has a slight edge but it is really difficult to compare directly as the meals were 6 months apart. And I had dinner in Ryugin so the atmosphere was more relaxed without worry about the next appointment. But both chefs are the most creative I know without compromising the freshness, texture and the taste.

      I know Asomaniac went there a few weeks ago. Maybe he can contributre; he is the Michelin expert here.

      1. re: FourSeasons

        Thanks! Unfortunately, I just now (literally) received an email from them--they're completely booked until the end of June right now! They also write that there is a party minimum of two persons, so that precludes me off the bat.

        Well, the next next time I'm in Tokyo, I'll have to remember to make my reservations three months in advance, and hopefully I'll be able to find someone to dine there with me!

        I would like to hear Asomaniac's account, too, however. But for now, I'm off to try to get a reservation at Ryugin!

        1. re: prasantrin

          I really enjoyed my meal there, although - to use the above comparison - I prefer Ryugin. The 11 course meal we had consisted of very fresh, attractive and imaginative courses, although with some of them I thought the creative concepts and visual appearance were more impressive than the actual flavour. The frozen macademia oil was gimmicky and superfluous. The foie gras creme brule was superb, as were all other dishes. The two kinds of beef steak were very good, but not the best. Obviously any criticism should be viewed in the context of the highest standards, which Aronia sets itself. Even the courses that were not perfect were incredibly good. I would give the restaurant two or three Michelin stars. Probably more likely two than three. One thing I really loved there was the selection of Japanese wines, of which they have more than the rest of the world combined. The Mercian Chardonnay Private Reserve was fantastic, if you like your Chardonnays toasty. The other Chardonnay we had (not private reserve) tasted like a young Burgundy. The red was a Nasu Merlot (virtually 100%), which is normally not my favourite grape, but I was interested in trying Japanese wines and this one was great (though don't order it if you don't like the flavour of cherry). We rounded it off with a red and white Burgundy from their limited but good rest of the world wine list, and found that the Japanese wines stood up against them well.

          I will be back in June. Can't wait. I booked when I had dinner there in March, and already most of June had been booked up and I only got my third choice date.

          1. re: Asomaniac

            Just a quick update... Having been back to Aronia twice recently, I have to revise my above assessment. It was unbelievable, definitely 3 star uqality. Not that I didn't think it was incredible before, but I didn't think it was out of this world. Now I do. They got rid of the gimmicky macademia oil (hopefully for good) and all of the dishes were sheer perfection. The meat courses I had there recently, quail and chocolate pigeon, far surpassed the beef in terms of creativity. Everything was sublime, from the tako amuse bouche to the tomato, corn and curry ice creams to finish the meal. I have booked in for several more meals in the upcoming three months.

            1. re: Asomaniac

              Hi Asomaniac,

              Thanks for the report back! :) Do you happen to have their URL / Info (preferably in English and Japanese)? I can't wait to try it!


              1. re: exilekiss

                Hi exilekiss,

                Their website is Unfortunately, it is only in Japanese. There is very little English language information out there on Aronia. There is that one rave review from the Times, and I think that is more or less it. It will change when they get their Michelin stars and become inetrnationally famous (though in the right circles, they already seem to be; chef Takazawa guest-cooked at the Ritz in Dubai for a week this year, for example).

                We should probably enjoy the current situation - you can imagine how much more impossible it will become to book a table there, givent hat they only have two tables and often you already have to book about 3 months in advance.

    2. Is the lunch menu at Aronia the same as the dinner menu? I'm thinking of trying again the next time I'm in Tokyo (not sure when that will be, but no harm in planning ahead), and perhaps I'll have better luck getting in as a single or as a replacement for a cancellation at lunch rather than dinner.

      2 Replies
        1. re: Asomaniac

          Great! If I go for lunch, I don't want to feel like I'm missing out.

          Now I just have to plan a trip to Tokyo (now that Laduree Tea Room has opened, I really need to go!).

      1. I finally found someone to go to Aronia with, and they'll be closed when I was planning to be in Tokyo! I think I'm just destined not to eat there...

        For anyone planning to be in France in December, Takazawa will be cooking at l'Auberge Basque. The email I got said he'd be travelling around France and Spain until December 17.

        1. Just read a favorable review of Ariona de Takazawa on Wall Street Journal, written by Yukari. I attached the website below. Wonder if the writer is the regular contributor of Chowhound Yukari herself?

          18 Replies
          1. re: FourSeasons


            Also, it's not quite as secret as the Wall Street Journal writer would suggest. Since it's been covered in Newsweek, Travel and Leisure and the London Times it's probably one of the more written-about restaurants in Tokyo.

            1. re: FourSeasons

              Also, for what it's worth, on Tabelog, Aronia is rated 7 out of 17 French restaurants in Akasaka. On Asku, they come in somewhere in the middle of page 7 out of 20 pages of French listings in Tokyo. It seems like they're more popular with the international press than with people who actually live here.

              1. re: Robb S

                True, different publication and survey have produced completely different conclusions. Forget about International Press vs Japanese survey, I have highlighted before on a previous thread that even Tabelog and AskU have different results among their fans.
                Even the highly acclaimed Michelin 3 stars L'Osier and Quientessence are ranked only no.19 and 21 in the Tabelog's French category respectively. One would think with the Michelin 3 stars stamp behind them, they would have ranked at the top of its category but that is not the case for Japanese foodies.

                1. re: FourSeasons

                  #19 and #21 are pretty respectable numbers, and not that surprising at all. Aronia is ranked #586 in Tabelog's Tokyo French category.

                  1. re: Robb S

                    I don't think the chefs of L'Osier and Quintessence will be happy about the ranking of no.19 and 21 when they have achieved 3 stars from Michelin, the supposedly authority on French cuisine.

                    I have not tried 586 French restaurants in Tokyo. I have tried Quintessnce in Tokyo, Robucho A Galera in Macau, and L' Atelier in Hong Kong, and I thought Ariona is not inferior to any of them. So the poor ranking surprised me, but I am not a food critic, just just an amateur foodie who enjoyed the meal at Ariona tremendously.

                    Off-topic: I have enjoyed a few restaurants in Tokyo that really "wow" me but they do not appear anywhere or rank very low at Tabelog.

                    1. re: FourSeasons

                      Oh, I don't think those chefs are losing any sleep over their rankings in Tabelog; as I've opined elsewhere, it's at best a very rough guide to what's good (and more often simply what's popular), with some puzzling and questionable results sometimes.

                      I'm sure that Aronia is good - the descriptions I've read here and elsewhere sound intriguing. I just thought it was interesting to note the difference between its overseas reputation and its local one.

                      1. re: FourSeasons

                        I often find that tabelog ratings of restarurants with Western cuisine differ quite a bit from my own view. Often a restaurant that is rated fairly highly on tabelog is not that great at all in my mind, and restaurants I do rate very highly tabelog tends to rate average.

                        Not sure why that is. Is it some sort of cultural difference? Do Japanese people tend to look for different things in their Western meals / rate different things highly? Are my taste buds incompetent to distinguish between good and great food? Possibly, but the views of a lot of serious Western foodies who have eaten in the same restaurants as I have seem to indicate that they tend to rate the places I rate as well, and often do not particularly rate restaurants many Japanese people rate. This (highly unscientific) poll of sorts indicates a cultural difference. An example that comes to mind is Aroma Fresca vs Aso (both Argento and Ristorante). I know a lot of Japanese people who rave about Aroma and swear it is the best Italian restaurant they have ever eaten at. I think it is good, very good even, but not more. I rate Aso more highly (Michelin agrees at least on that one), but tabelog does not (though the ratings are fine, but in both cases certainly below Aroma). (I know you don't quite agree on that one, fourseasons :-))

                        On Aronia specifically, I have spoken to quite a few people who have eaten in many Michelin starred restaurants around the world, and Aronia often was either their favourite or up there. I'd agree with that, but as Robb S says, it does appear that foreigners take to it much more than Japanese people.

                        It doesn't really matter, it's just fun to chat about people's different takes on the various restaurants. I'd be happy if the Takazawas got the recognition in Tokyo which I believe they deserve, but ultimately, whether or not they do, their venison will not taste any different depending on what the critics say. Thank God.

                        1. re: Asomaniac

                          Cultural difference is definitely a factor. Before Robb pointed out to me that Arionia has such a huge different perception between the Western publications and the local ones, I also have personally noted a difference in rating of restaurants between blogs written by Westerners and Tabelog.

                          Yes, you are right, at the end of the day, it's just fun and doesn't matter. Our own enjoyment is the most important matter.

                          On Aroma vs ASO: I actually prefer the food at Aroma Fresca to Argento ASO (I have not tried Ristorante ASO so no comment there). But then I had the seasonal dinner menu at Aroma but just a light lunch menu at ASO so may not be a fair comparison. But in terms of service and ambiance, ASO is first class and superior to Aroma.

                          1. re: Asomaniac

                            Hi Asomaniac, FourSeasons,

                            Great topic. One other thing to consider may be the "Value / Cost" category. Perhaps for many locals they may rate a restaurant higher because it represents a better "value" for them vs. some of the Michelin 3 Star / 2 Star that may be pricier.

                            Or maybe the classic "neighborhood / convenient" eatery for one person reviewing that skews their ranking of a place over a more famous, more distant place?

                            But as you pointed out, that's what makes Food so Fun. :) Everyone has their tastes / differences and it's about discovering and taking it all in.

                            1. re: exilekiss

                              Hi exilekiss:

                              I think you are right; I suspect "Value/Cost" must be a factor when the readers review the restaurants. I have recently tried a restaurant that was very highly rated at Tabelog; the food is very good, but not excellent, but in terms of "Value for money", it is a great deal. I thought they could charge another 30% more expensive for the amount and quality of food it provided. I tried another restaurant that was quite expensive sometime ago; I thought it was excellent but the rating was quite poor at Tabelog; I suspect reviewers perhaps felt it was too expensive. It is either "Value/Cost" factor or simply my taste bud is not in the mainstream.

                              But then Tabelog based its review on tasting, service and ambiance, with another overall rating (that I assume is the average of the 3 factors) and they ranked the restaurants based on that overall point. For people like me who do not care much about ambiance, I would follow more on the rating on the taste category.

                              1. re: exilekiss

                                While I'm sure that value does factor in to the overall scores on sites like tabelog, interestingly enough, 13 of the top 20 restaurants in their ranking start at about 20,000Y per person (about $200), 4 others are in the 10,000-20,000Y range ($100-200) and the 3 others below that. Of course, those scores tend to be inflated, like you find on surveys like Zagat, with a less data points. So it's worth looking at the number of people that have rated the restaurant, as well as those who have made comments. In fact, the comments (the kuchikomi -- 口コミ) is the most useful part of Tabelog. Of course you'd need to read Japanese to get any use out of it, or as in my case, just enough Japanese to get the gist.

                                Also of interest is that the one Sushiya that outranks Mizutani (no. 14) is a place called Hashiguchi (no. 13). I don't think I've heard of Hashiguchi on the Japan CH board.

                                1. re: E Eto

                                  I have made a reservation on line. The reply will be tomorrow (holiday). IN suspense....

                                  1. re: Ninisix

                                    Don't you think that a failing on a reservation can give good results ? And want to try again ? Funny hum...

                                    1. re: Ninisix

                                      I'm not sure I understand your reply, so just to clarify. . . you didn't get a reservation??

                                      In my experience, you need at least 3 months to get a reservation at Aronia. That's just based on all of my failures.

                                      1. re: prasantrin

                                        Unfortunately, it failed. Looking for the occasion. Perhaps in October, not sure about that one. It seems to be possible yet at some point.

                    2. re: FourSeasons

                      Hi there, that article was written by a friend of mine, a WSJ journalist with a good palate (a good home cook as well), so I'd trust what she's written. I believe she enjoyed the meal a lot but wasn't as blown away as she'd expected to be after going through all of drama of getting a reservation.

                      Still, I'd love to try it. How much was it for lunch (with wine, I'm guessing)?

                      1. re: tokyodrinkingglass

                        They do not distinguish between lunch and dinner menues, so you get the same menus and prices (used to be 16,000, 20,000 and 24,000 Yen set menues, I am not sure if the prices are still the same as i have not been for a long time.

                        1. re: Asomaniac

                          No more lunch reservation can be made... Unfortunately, it failed this summer and Chrismas I might not be in Tokyo.

                    3. Aronia de Takazawa is available for two, Oct 2.
                      Be hurry!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: CPMK

                        A wanted restaurant... A big wanted one. Did someone tried it after Chrismas ? Like the week between Chrismas and New Year end ? The week of Chrismas is impossible I think to book a reservation.