“I think I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree. Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.”
It’s tough. It’s damn bloody tough, when you only have two options too choose among the best restaurant in the country who has more Michelin starred restaurants than any other place on earth, especially when you keep flipping pages after pages of Michelin Guide book on your hand.
From a humble tempura, traditional Kaiseki, to western fine dining establishment, Tokyo is becoming the the Asia’s (if not the world) culinary mecca not only for foodies to find their best meal, but also for the chef to find inspiration.
Beside the dinner at Akasaka Tantei on my previous post, I left one more restaurant to choose. This time, I need to choose wisely. Bad dinner means ruining my trip.
Takazawa , changed their name from Aronia de Takazawa since May 2012. The restaurant has been opened their doors since 2005 with only 2 tables a day, 8 seats maximum. From 2011 they were increasing their capacity to 10 seats.
Yoshiaki Takazawa, 36 years old, is the mastermind, the magician, the genius behind the stove. Even though he never trained overseas. He’s been working in several places after graduating from French cooking school in the age of 18, including Park Hyatt hotel, wedding banquet, even to a humble Yakitori places. He is also the youngest senior sommelier in Japanese history.
From left to right: Pork Liver Pate Sandwich, Curry Soup Sphere, Scallop Tempura topped with shaved Truffle
The pork liver pate for me was just perfect, absolutely delicious. This pate will make you forget about the poshy goose liver pate for awhile.
The curry sphere was delicious as well, but I can’t comment any further about it.
The scallop was another great start. Instead of using tempura flour, they use pastry dough. The sweetness from the scallop, crispiness from the pastry, and a kick from the truffle made it a perfect start for a great meal.
The legendary Takazawa Rataouille
Eye candy, beautiful, stunning, unique, small, bite-sized deconstructed ratatouille that has been in the menu since the opening of the restaurant from 2005 until now. This is the signature dish where the chef cooked 15 types of vegetables individually before he assemble them together into a terrine. Instead to make it as a big portion, the chef wants the customer to have it in one bite so that we can taste and feel everything. Every single component of this dish was like dancing in your mouth. It gave you different textures and flavors at the same time.
Sesame Bread with bamboo charcoal, Pork rilette
Again, a unique interpretation of vegetables. Here, you get a beautiful glass of vegetable cocktail. From the bottom you have tomato water and gazpacho. The top layer consist of parmigiano reggiano cream cheese, basil puree, tomato jelly, caviar, brunoise of cucumber and tomato, crisp black cabbage, and some micro herbs. You must dig with a long spoon and have it together. The flavor is magical, very refreshing and vibrant. I’m really happy with this one.
Note: Before I go for the wine, I have to admit that I have so little knowledge about wine. Most of the time I will just go by a glass of white wine, like Sauvignon Blanc will doing a good job.
This is the first time I take a wine pairing. I didn’t have any plan at all to have one. I asked Akiko to recommend me a glass of white wine, Japanese wine if possible, and I ended up in having a meal with “Japanese-white-wine-pairing”.
The first Japanese white wine that I had was produced by Team Kisvin and Chateu Sakaori. This wine consist of 48 different grapes from mount fuji.
Hot Blanc Mangier
Inside the cup, it looks like a crème caramel. But actually it’s a cod’s egg custard topped with prawn sauce. The texture is like chawanmushi. This is accompanied by truffle look-a-like, but actually the real truffle is the one on top. The fake truffle is a deep fried cod’s egg. The custard is packed with flavor. The balance is just perfect, because you get the exact amount of richness from the custard. The prawn sauce got a hint of yuzu to give it extra kick. For the deep’s fried cod’s egg, you can’t eat it separately from the truffle. It’s tasted rather bland if you tasted it alone, but with the combination with truffle is just fantastic. You get the creaminess from the egg plus the aroma and flavor from the truffle. Damn good.
The inspiration behind this dish is literally coming from a candleholder. The candle is made from pear jam, and the cover is Foie Gras crème brulee. I like this dish, but at some point I felt the foie gras crème brulee is just too much in terms of quantity. It’s nice, but after a certain amount it’s just feel too rich and sweet.
This wine uses night-harvested grapes to ensure the maximum quality of the grapes. A perfect companion with the next two upcoming dishes.
Do you remember the last time you had cereal for your breakfast, Maybe accompanied with some milk, or even with an egg on the side? This is the same feeling when this dish arrived at my table, but with extra excitement. You have poached egg, guinea fowl broth, and shaved truffle on the left, and the cereal flakes on the right. Instead of using corn flakes, this one you have potato flakes instead. Mix them together, and you will wish to have this breakfast anytime. The chef always use the egg that comes from special breed of chicken. Akiko explained that the chicken is fed with the pressed grapes that used to make wine ( I don’t know what they’re being called with), so it will produce a rich and flavorful egg. The egg yolk looks slightly orangey.
This dish is inspired from mount Fuji. Pan fried fish (it’s a Japanese fish, but still in flounder family) served with black seaweed puree, lily bulb, milk foam, and white wine sauce. The seaweed puree gives the sea flavor to the fish. The combination of this dish plus the nutty texture from the lily bulb brings great flavor to your palate.
This tells me a good Cabernet Sauvignon doesn’t always come from France. The best companion for my meat.
Excitement, that is what they continuously deliver to every diner. Before the main begin, Akiko served us an unedible tablet, then the magic started when she pour the hot water onto it. The tablet turns into a hand towel to wipe our hands. Beside that, it has the forest aroma to maximize the dish experience.
I felt like having the whole forest on the table. Here you have Hokkaido venison, bamboo shoot, chestnut, ginko nut, shitake, burdock, edible charcoal (it’s a Japanese sweet potato), some mountain vegetables, and served on top of pine bark. Chef Takazawa proved it here that he is a grilling expert, based on his experience on Yakitori places. The meat was grilled perfectly, and so the other component. Amazing.
Champagne to eat
This is a better version from my previous meal at Namaaz. Basically, this is a carbonated fruits. But I can’t denied the quality of the white muscats. They’re incredibly fresh and sweet.
Japanese Ice wine
This is Takazawa interpretation for tiramisu. It’s a combination of grated chestnut, mascarpone ice cream, and coffee mousse, a lovey dessert after a roller coaster meal.
Matcha marshmallow, roasted tea meringue, Japanese chili chocolate, yuzu cake.
Undoubtedly, this is the best dining experience so far. It struck your mind and emotion right away to the core. The service was immaculate, Akiko has a pure sense of what I call it honest hospitality with no bullshit or whatever.
Chef Takazawa is a genius on his game. He is serious, I mean dead serious about what he does. I asked Akiko about those prestigious awards like Michelin guide, San Pellegrino, or other best restaurant award. I believe that Takaza deserve a star or two if not three. Akiko was just smile and shake her head. I asked “Why not?” and she replied, “We are happy for just being like this”.
I was finishing my meal, paying the bill, taking some pictures, saying goodbye, and left the restaurant with a thought on my mind. Do these awards really matter?Based on this amazing dinner, it’s almost impossible for Takazawa not to earn those awards. But then again, even without those accolades, getting a reservation is a tough one. You need at least 3 months to get a table.
Some chefs work their ass off, put their reputation on the line to get recognition. But when they get it, they must maintain it by following their game. This is where some restaurant is becoming too cliche. They lost their freedom, their imagination, or even their true identity.
Some chefs, are just care about what they do, their main duty, which is to give customer the best meal. They don’t give a damn about those awards. This is where they have their own game, maintain their identity, free their imagination, and I think this is what Takazawa is all about. A proper meal.
Sanyo Akasaka Bld. 2F 3-5-2 Akasaka Minatoku Tokyo ,Japan
*update:Takazawa just got #31 at Asia50best by San Pellegrino on Feb 2013. I dined in this restaurant on early Dec 2012.