Saturday, 25 August 2012

les creations des narisawa or ryugin? or both!

Les Creations de Narisawa or RyuGin? Experimental or fine dining? Best Michelin restaurant in Asia or best newcomer? (I was here in August 2011). Decisions, decisions. Since I couldn't celebrate my birthday at Aronia de Takazawa, for me, there was no decision, I was going to both. On my birthday. 

No, I am not a billionaire, I am a lowly paid hospitality worker. To be honest, I hate my birthday. Ironically, this makes me want to celebrate it more. I have a Champagne taste, but sadly reside on a beer budget. Sometimes, I can't even afford the beer. Since I am not a billionaire (yet) I had to make some compromises. 

Lunch vs. Dinner - Did you know you can save Y8,000 (AUD$100) just by having lunch? I did and that is why I visited Les Creations de Narisawa (can we just call it LCN?) for lunch. Normally I am very stingy, I will drink only tap water to save money (to spend more on beautiful food) and leave a tip. But this time I went all out and had matching wines. I think I had too much wine because I even bought half a bottle of 1996 French Riesling.

Set Menu vs. a la carte - At RyuGin, the set menu is Y23,000 (AUD$280), but ... If you make a booking on the day after 9pm you can enjoy the a la carte menu. Set menus are a great way to experience a restaurant, but a la carte allows you to budget.

These two tips allowed me to save enough money to experience two of the city's best restaurants (and on the same day).

Still can't decide between the two? It's simple - Pick both!

Les Creations des Narisawa (lunch)

LCN (something tells me this name won't catch on...) was fine dining at its best. The service was polished, the food took you on a journey, and there was a high level of detail. 

Gift from SATOYAMA and Le Potager - Radish, 
Sumi and Onion
Green asparagus from Furano, Hokkaido and 
Tomato from Kochi

Slow cooked charcoal roasted onion
(tastes better than my photography makes it look)
Gift from SATOYAMA and Le Potager - Radish,
Sumi and Onion

Green asparagus from Furano, Hokkaido and
Tomato from Koch

Gift from the Forest - Amagi no Shamo,
Chicken from Shizuoko

Whole free range organic chicken cooked above fire, 
and continually doused with olive oil. 
Amazingly tender with crisp skin.
Gift from the Sea - Akodai Snapper from Odawara, 
Asari from Aichi
Vinaigrette from Kyoto and ground pepper 
and English sea salt ... added the snapper broth - WOW!!!!
Okinawa dessert - Pina colada with jelly and 
nitrogen infused ice cream

Our dessert BUFFET!

RyuGin (dinner)

While LCN (do you get it yet?) was polished and slow paced, ryugin was the complete opposite. Elegantly presented food that you recognised, versus experimental food. Food that melted in your mouth, versus food that exploded in your mouth. Is this a bad thing? Not at all, but they are completely different. I visited RyuGin in August 2011, before they received their third star, it was busy then, but I can imagine it will be even harder to get in now.

Charcoal grilled ayu (sweet fish) served head to tail with 
red capsicum and watermelon sauce. 
This fish looked alive, was very scary!!!

Strict rules:

1. Fish must be less than 20cm (so you can eat the 
whole fish including bones)
2. Must be alive until the last minute 
(to preserve freshness)
3. Must be cooked using white coals
The staff at LCN are very polished, with European style service, while as RyuGin, it is was more casual and almost a little dismissive. I had one of the best meals in my life and asked (ok, practically begged) to please met Chef Seigi to thank him. They declined saying he was shy, but as we left we received a pleasant surprise!

Such a humble man, he looks so calm and quiet
but his food is insane!!
Amuse Bouche - Crab from Hokkaido,
wrapped in seaweed with cucumber
Sea urchin wrapped in seaweed tempura, seasoned with
Japanese lime, ginko nuts, NZ sea salt and leek flakes
Squid sashimi, pickled cucumber, sake marinated sea weed,
with shredded Japanese lime, NZ sea salt and wasabi

The squid is cut especially so that the texture is
very smooth, and tastes sweet.
Grilled sea perch with crispy sushi rice, artichoke, baby corn,
endame, ginko nuts and leek with black vinegar sauce
Another specialty - Roppongi Pudding with coconut
milk and caramel, INCREDIBLE!!
Chef Yamamoto has been is an avid collector of
dragon plates from China.

Chef's collection of fine plates decorated the room.
There were 22 in total and he has collected these his
whole life. The restaurant is designed as a gallery
with the plates a focal point.
Squid sashimi, pickled cucumber, sake marinated sea weed,
with shredded Japanese lime, NZ sea salt and wasabi

Specialty dessert - 196°c Popping candied grape
and 99°c grape jam

Specialty dessert - 196°c Popping candied grape
and 99°c grape jam

Happy camper!

Les Creations de Narisawa
$: from Y7,350 (AUD $90) (lunch)
address: Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo

$: from Y23,100 (AUD: $280) (dinner) - a la carte available after 9pm
address: 7-17-24 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo