I’ve yet to visit a bad restaurant on this trip. The places I’ve been to have ranged from quite good to spectacular. As of yesterday, I’d put three of those sixteen restaurants in the latter category. As for this morning, I can add a fourth.
I was getting worried that critiquing lunches and dinners was like comparing apples to oranges. Thus far on this trip, all of the lunches have been very good, but only the dinners have fallen into the spectacular category. In all fairness, I thought, it was an unfair comparison since lunch was usually half the price of these dinners and, as a result, the chefs weren’t on their full game. To which my sometimes dining companion Stefan countered that a chef should always be on his full game. I wasn’t wholly convinced – until lunch at Hirosaku in Shinbashi.
I was running late, so I ended up taking a cab. And good thing I did. The taxi driver dropped me off and pointed me down an alleyway. I strolled down, confirmed the address, and then wandered the neighborhood, evidently looking fairly nefarious in my long leather coat and gloves. At one point, some businessman passing me going the other way stared up at me too long and wound up catching the corner of a sidewalk display table right in the groin. From the corner of my eye, I saw him double-over with the impact that shook the enormous table, and heard him muster a gasped “Sumimasen” (sorry) before dropping. I honored Japanese custom by not even breaking stride.
I returned to the restaurant and arrived just seconds before a harried Stefan who was being personally escorted to the location by a bike courier. Apparently, he’d been wandering the neighborhood for 45 minutes looking for the place and none of the locals he’d stopped to ask had had any idea where to find it.
He had almost given up. Well, good thing for him he hadn’t otherwise he would have missed one of those spectacular meals.
Hirosaku is located in a quaint little detached house. He slid open the entrance and poked our heads inside. At first, I thought we’d stumbled onto a residence – until we were greeted with the requisite “Irrashaimase!” and welcomed inside. We were offered a choice between dining upstairs or downstairs, and decided to head up to the second floor where we were given a private dining room.
When I first met Stefan, he told me that he had yet to be wowed by a dish in Tokyo. Granted, there had been many excellent menu items, but none that had waylaid him like a band of culinary thugees on a darkened restaurant row in India. Well, this meal had some wows. And plenty of ’em.
If you go, prepare to be wowed.
We then headed to Shibuya where we were scheduled to meet some fellow travelers for what I’d dubbed “a chocolate crawl”. I envisioned it as exactly like a pub crawl, except that instead of pubs, we’d frequent chocolate shops, and instead of hoisting pints, we’d be downing chocolate macarons and 72% cocoa truffles. Since we were early, we walked around…
Alas, the chocolate crawl was a bust. No one else showed (as it turns out, they were at another Pierre Herme in Seibu). Crushed, I headed back to Ginza where I dropped in on my Marcolini gals before heading back to the hotel to work on this blog. Holy crap, it takes forever to upload these pics.
As dinner time drew near, I decided to take the subway to that night’s location, La Rochelle Shibuya, restaurant of famed Iron Chef French, Hiroyuki Sakai. I was given simple instructions to follow but once I exited Shibua station – which is HUGE by the way – I wandered aimlessly before finally giving up and hopping into a cab. I handed the driver the map and directions. He threw me a look and asked me if I was serious. Yep. I was. He gave a shrug, put the car in drive, rolled down the hill and, a minute later, we were there. It was worth the seven dollars.
La Rochelle Shibuya is located on the 32nd floor of the Cross Tower. I was early and escorted into an elegant waiting area where I took the time to catch up on my emails.
Finally, my dinner date arrived – the lovely Jessica who I ended up sharing the majority of my meals with on my last trip to Tokyo. She’s just back from the U.S. and a little busier this year, but I’m sure we’ll be able to squeeze in a few more of these before my departure.
The night-time views out the main dining room’s enormous windows are spectacular. It’s now wonder the place hosts many a wedding and banquet. As we settled in, our waiter appeared to run us through the menu.