Date of Visit: February 25 2013
A spot of experimental French-Japanese dining à la Narisawa-style. Reservations was too easy – hop online, fill in your details, pick your date and remember to reconfirm a week before.
The resto is in a up-market suburb of Aoyama, very easy to find. Since we were early, we checked out the hood. Walking around the suburban vernacular of precast concrete, we spotted design firms and GA Japan masterpieces.
Currently, the exchange rate is in favour of our Aussie Battler, (A$0.95). Wow! Astonishing that a beautifully packed bento lunch box is only ¥700! Seriously, dudes – $6.65?! – can you get that in Sydney?!
(…Then again, I’ve always an accidental exchange-rate traveller. I recall with fond memories my trip to Buenos Aires a few years after the Argentine Crisis, where US$100 bought a stellar silver-service lunch at Alvear Palace Hotel. Canapes were offered on a silver tray and champagne placed on my table all before the menus were brought out. Those were the days… bet US$100, won’t strectch that far now…)
12pm – Time For Lunch
A clean simple interior. I was able to watch the chefs at work in the kitchen through the glass walls. As I was checking out the chefs, the sommelier informed us that Chef Narisawa is in Singapore for S.Pellegrino’s Restaurant Award and results will be released tonight. Whad’ya know Narisawa gained #1 spot in Asia!
(All very relaxed. classy and in hush-hush…UNTIL…I picked up the uniquely Singlish…providing me with some lunch-time entertainment! More later…)
First up, the usual order of business…
* Wine – The Sommelier had just returned from his stint in Noma, recommended a couple of Japanese wine produced exclusively in the vineyards of Toriivilla Imamuki. They were Ferran Adria’s absolute favourite when he dined in Narisawa 4 years ago. (My favourites now too…wink...)
2008 Toriivilla Imamuki Cuvee Tradition, Katsunuma ,Yamansahi, Japan – (akin to Sav Blanc, but less show-pony than the Oz varietals)
2004 Toriivilla Imamura Cuvee Yuka, Katsunuma, Yamansahi, Japan (Pinor Noir)
ONE: ‘Forest 2010’ Bread of the Forest – The first ‘course’ was the preparation of bread at the table. It was a fair wait for the bread to be ready but FUN watching the dough rising.
Chestnut powder was dusted onto the bread before it was placed inside a stone pot and covered with an oak lid. Took 12 minutes to bake. Whilst waiting, the whiff of citrus makes me very hungry…
TWO: Moss – Butter covered in moss. This is basically a dehydrated black olive tapenade, green basil powder and whipped butter
Let the Lunch begin!
Our sommelier explained that our meal today is based on ‘omakase‘, this means we entrust the chef to suprise us – and enthralled us he did!
THREE: Essence of the Forest – On the wooden board, dehydrated soy bean crumbs and charcoal bits reminiscent of the forest floors with twig (ginseng) and mountain herbs. To finish off cold refreshing sips of pure water infused in Cedar wood.
FOUR: Sumi – Oyster baked in charcoal bread.
FIVE: Soil 2001 – The waiter (a young dude from Melbourne) explained that the soil is biodynamic mountain soil from Nagano and cooked in spring water – so yeah, basically we are drinking mud! The taste? Akin to the herbaceous Chinese med, albeit lighter and sweeter with a kick of root. 2 sips and they were gone. But the cooking process was arduous- check out the recipe with a video of Chef Narisawa here.
(… wow… one needs ferocious googling to find out what one ate! Talk about educating your clients and thanks Chef, for your brochures explaining the philosophical details behind your culinary concept!!)
While the flow of the food is smooth,
(…My attention was diverted to the trio from Singapore. 1 chap has with him – 2 mobile phones, 1 iPad and 1 camera. The other guy had a bazooka-like camera and could not stop taking pictures! I thought they were from the media until his girlfriend started bickering about his photo-taking and subsidising the trip. Honestly, I don’t want to hear your dirty laundry, a piece of advise from me, honey – you are a pretty girl, you can do much better, aim high! )
SEVEN: “Ash 2009” Scene of the seashore – If I want to be poetic, this spear squid course evokes the imagery of ‘The Tempest’. The lone squid swept ashore shrouded by the veil of misty rain. Squid lying on top of dry-ice made from olive oil, smoked pepper puree, and green basil
EIGHT: Sawara Spanish Mackerel from Hagi, Yamaguchi and Onion Essence from Amanoshashidate, Kyoto I’ve been wondering why the smoky incense smell in the restaurant. Apparently, the next theatrics is the ‘smoke of cherry blossom chips’ pumped into the food cover. This is what the Chef themed ‘Umami’ of the senses.
NINE: ‘Luxury Essence 2007″ Black Abalone
This course reminds me of ‘Buddha Jumps Over the Wall’. Jinhua Ham essence in test tube poured over black abalone and medley of vegs (mushrooms, cauliflower, brocoli, romanesca, carrots…)
TEN: Fugu,Blowfish from Hagi, Yamaguchi – Came with mayo in exotic leaf and a wedge of lime
ELEVEN: Signature Dish: Hida Beef – Wagyu rump roast marinated in leek, basted in olive oil and charred on the outside. Not at all charred or hard, but a piece of very moist sweet juicy beef.
TWELVE: Donguri Farm – Medley of Citrus, Chocolate, acorn, Spherified jelly beads, Mascapone
THIRTEEN: Kuzumochi, Sakekasu, Strawberry – The Kuzuko is made from the arrowroot the Chef had personally picked in Ishigawa. 100kg only yields 2kg – so imagine how precious this is. The texture is very smooth and limber.
FOURTEEN: Mignardise Cart – The grand finale to lunch was the incredible mignardise cart! I am dying to stand up take a couple of good shots here, but as Brigete Jones said ‘maintain your poise’! Anyway, here are the final pictures… I am allowed to choose as many mignardises as I like, but I only chose 3
Dining at Nariswa was an experience in culinary geophagy. I thoroughly enjoyed my culinary adventure and will plan for a return visit.