The Most Affordable Michelin Meal In Japan So Far… It’s 3 Stars! @ Wa Yamamura, Nara, Japan

Date of Visit: March 3 2013

The ancient capital of Japan, Nara is 45mins away from Kyoto (there is a direct trolley running hourly, but don’t hop on the train bound for the other direction like I did!).  Compared to Tokyo and Kyoto, Nara is a tranquil town, boasting temples and shrines.  Most significantly Nara is a World UNESCO Heritage site and my prime reason to visit Nara is to visit the temples there.  However, my quest to eat at Michelin-rated restaurants continued, and I was thrilled to find Wa Yamamura, a local Nara restaurant that has been awarded a 3 stars status by the Michelin Guide in Andy Hayler’s web of international restaurant reviews (here).  Since Wa Yamamura’s webpage is in Japanese, I asked my hotel concierge at Hotel Nikko Nara to book for me.

This husband and wife operated restaurant was packed by locals on the night we visited, so even though we made a bar seating reservation for 3 people, we were given a private room which is divided by a kimono curtain.  Our 10-course kaiseki was ¥12500 per person.   We were very well taken care by the wife of the chef and her team of young waitresses (with one speaking English).   True to being ‘omakase’, a hand-written description of the course on pretty notepapers accompanied each course.  Here’s what we had…

Continue reading

Rollicking Good Food @Ginza Okuda, Tokyo

Date of Visit: February 23 2013

While the other runners opted for carbo-loading with pasta for their pre-race meal.  This runner threw all caution to the wind and had a full-course omakase set lunch at Ginza Okuda instead!  Why, she reckoned, there’s a rice course in Japanese kaiseki and that’s carbo-loading, ain’t it?!  Continue reading

Eating ‘Dirt’ at Asia’s #1 Resto! @ Narisawa

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. Continue reading

Just An Average Nick @RyuGin Tokyo

Date of Visit: February 26 2013 (Early Spring Menu)

In stark contrast to its offshoot’s glamorous location in Hong Kong (my review here), Nihonryori RyuGin‘s location in Tokyo is more subdued, in a residential back street off Roppongi. Roppongi was a sleezy area frequented by American GIs in the 60s before Mr Mori took the punt to redevelop the area and almost went under during the Japanese Asset Bubble. Lucky for him, his gamble paid off and now Roppongi is a thriving metropolis in Tokyo.

With an impressive string of accolades, namely 3 Michelin stars and being in S. Pellegrino’s List of World’s Top 50 Restaurants (determined by the water the restaurant sells, methinks), booking for a degustation dinner at RyuGin is very strict – starting at 11:30am on the 1st of the preceding month. However, if you are a late diner, you may be able to book in for their à la carte after 9:30pm. Continue reading

Steik World Meats @K11 Mall, TST

(A scheduled post from the Chica currently on a month-long luncheon in Japan)

Date of Visit: February 21 2013

Apparently Steik World Meats at K11 Mall, TST was recommended in the Michelin Guide 2011 and 2012. It had the American steak-house look – dark timber and dark carpeting. It also has an open kitchen. The ceiling is interesting resembling the spots on the cows – howdy do Cowboys!

2013 (2)Leica 036

Interior of Restaurant

I enjoyed the warm and soft breads fresh from the oven.

2013 (2)Leica 037

Bread Basket with free refills

It is common in Hong Kong to have Set Lunch menu, so we all ordered the 2-course Set Lunch which included tea or coffee. The price of the Set Lunch varies depending on the main course. Dessert will cost an extra HK$30 (but since the serving size were rather big, and we are watching our weight, we skipped dessert)

ENTREE: This was the most popular with us all ordering the same entree. There’s chicken liver and foie gras parfait, parma ham, pork terrine, duck rillettes, pickles and toasted baguette. The cold-cuts were excellent – I like them all especially the chicken liver foie gras which is very creamy and rich.

2013 (2)Leica 040

Charcuterie Plate

MAIN COURSE: What I noticed is that there is no standard in the cuts and presentation.

My pork loin was cooked perfectly with a pinkish center and it was tender. However, the buttered spatzie was rather burnt – it’s kind of doughy like gnochi, but in noodle-form and pan fried like chow-mein.

2013 (2)Leica 044

Canadian Pork Loin with Buttered Spatzie, Sauce Charcuterie $198

The steak looked good. But cooked in Chinese cafe-style, what is missing is the hot sizzling plates!

2013 (2)Leica 041

Chef’s Choice Cut of the Day 7oz Dry Aged Steak with Sauteed Potato, Lyonnaise Glazed French Beans, Shallot Jus $228

The fish came dry and burnt. Both my aunts ordered fish – one had the tail and the other the belly. Shouldn’t the cuts be the same in fine dining restaurants? I guess not…

2013 (2)Leica 042

Fresh Fish Fillet with Sauteed Vegetables and Lemon Butter $176

Personally, I think Steik World of Meats is a high-end Chinese cafe, service is very fast and super-efficient, not exactly silver-service though. So in my humble opinion not worthy of Michelin recommendation…just my two-cents. There is a clubby bar area with a well stocked liquor and spirits collection and with the Happy Hour promos would be a decent place to chill out after work or a long hard day of shopping!