Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Japan >
Feb 3, 2010 05:01 PM

Tapas Molecular Bar?

I will be in Tokyo for 4 nights and I am debating whether to visit Tapas Molecular Bar for dinner. I'm worried that it's too kitchy + touristy, and I don't typically like to dine at hotels. Can anyone speak on this? Is it worth the $160/pp and is it unique to Tokyo and Japanese cuisine?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)

    It's pretty fun, but I don't consider it very "Japanese". The hotel is quite nice, and if you're a man - you really don't want to miss using the urinals on the 37th floor bathrooms.

    1 Reply
    1. It is fun and interesting (and tasty!), but has absolutely nothing to do with Japanese cuisine. At all. The chef is also not Japanese.

      I wish I had had Lost Squirrel's advice when I went - never got to experience the urinals. Now I have a reason to go back.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Asomaniac

        Well they serve dishes like deconstructed miso soup, so there's at least some connection to Japanese cuisine. I'm not sure what relevance the chef's nationality is, but he is in fact a Japanese native and was born in Okinawa, and he used to be a sushi chef.

        The urinals are definitely worth a visit.

        1. re: Robb S

          Really? The fact that he is called Jeff Ramsey and has an American accent fooled me. Japanese American then. Ok, there is indeed the odd dish that has a connection to Japanese cuisine (and the miso soup was particularly interesting actually, inside some sort of skin if I remember correctly), but it is not the right place if you want something that is "unique to Japanese cuisine", as the OP said. Still definitely worth a visit, but I am not sure if that is the place to pick if you are here just for a short time. Then again, 4 nights is not a 24 hour stop-over and if you want a standout meal in addition to three more Japanese options, why not? Definitely wouldn't call the place kitschy, though some people might consider some of the courses a bit gimmicky. (Not me personally, I enjoyed most of them a lot.)

          While the restaurant is not cheap, I think the price is absolutely fine, considering what you get for it, and given Tokyo prices in general. What is really overpriced is the wine - comes with being inside a 5 star hotel I suppose.

      2. I enjoyed TMB and would probably go again, but I'm in no hurry to do so. There are too many other places I haven't tried.

        But given your husband's food restrictions (mentioned in another thread), it might be a worthwhile visit for you. There's still seafood, but each course is a relatively small portion, so it won't be too arduous a task for him to eat it (or for you to eat his portion), unlike at many other Japanese restaurants you might want to dine at.

        And TMB isn't touristy at all. In fact, when I was there I was the only non-Japanese there (if I remember correctly), and the chef that night told me most of the clientele are Japanese. With the world economy going down the tubes, they were getting fewer and fewer non-Japanese in.

        1. I went last summer and really enjoyed it. Definitely not touristy, but maybe a few of the courses can be a bit kitschy. I would say -- if you are from a big city like New York or London where you can check out molecular gastronomy whenever you want, maybe it's not worth shelling out for it in Tokyo, where it's a bit of a novelty?

          That being said -- I thought there was plenty of Japanese-ness in the meal, both with the food and cultural references (bashing the watermelon in the summer!) I don't see what the chef's nationality has to do with it, either.

          The chef is also very accommodating of special dietary needs, if you tell them at the time you make the reservation. I was served another seafood course instead of the beef, for instance. Sometimes that kind of accommodation is difficult to find in Tokyo.

          If you go -- do go early and have a drink in the bar and take in the great view! And don't get the wine pairings, the meal moves pretty quickly and I think the wine would be just a distraction.

          1 Reply
          1. re: hello_liza

            Since what the chef's nationality has to do with it seems to not be understood by various posters here, I should perhaps explain the original comment. The original poster said she was looking for something "unique to Japanese cuisine". That to me suggests stuff like kaiseki (which she asks about in another post), sushi, etc. In Japan, finding a non-Japanese person running top restaurants "unique to Japanese cuisine" is pretty close to zero. Lots of foreigners run top class foreign or fusion places, but name some top kaiseki chefs or sushi chefs in Tokyo who are not Japanese. Sure there will be exceptions - Mr Harper makes excellent sake and Ivan's ramen is not a Japanese-run joint, either, but with very very few exceptions, if a chef at a place in Tokyo is not Japanese, the likelihood of finding something "unique to Japanese cuisine" is negligible. That's all.

          2. The original comment has been removed