Okay, I said late blog entry but I’ve got a window of opportunity here so it’ll be an early blog post instead.  Last night, I got together with my friend, Sachi, for dinner at Pierre Gagnaire in the ANA Continental Hotel.


We spent much of the meal catching up on our respective lives.  Sachi is quite the adventurous traveler, having spent time in places all over the world – many of which I’d probably never dare visit in my lifetime.  Whenever we start talking about these various locations, my progression of questions is so predictable.  Question #1: “How was it?”  Question #2: “How was the food?”.  Since the last time I saw her, Sachi has settled down in Rome – which she likes just fine although it’s apparently lacking in ethnic cuisine.

Well, on this night, we were dining at Pierre Gagnaire and, while not exactly ethnic, it did offer a variety of plates she’d be hard-pressed to find back in Rome – or, frankly, anywhere for that matter.  The dinner was a succession of detailed dishes ranging from the breathtaking to the bizarre, the stylistically spectacular to the substantially short.  But, damnit, they were all very entertaining.

The amuse bouches.

Unfortunately, these weren’t listed on the menu so I can’t recall the details.  I do, however, remember being blown away by the chorizo chip that was bursting with intense, chorizo flavor.  If they sold these at my local 7-11, I’d be snacking on them all night.

Scallop roasted and marinated with Amontillado, NOLPI, sea urchin, and Brussel sprouts.

I have no idea what NOLPI is but I did like this dish as a fresh, savory and slightly sweet start to the meal.

Lobster with cepe mushrooms, pear, and grappa leaves topped with a caramel sheet.

This one was very interesting.  The lobster was excellent; the caramel sheet a curious textural addition.

Foie gras with anago fritta and pomengranates

Probably my least favorite dish of the night.  Perhaps due to its small size, the foie gras was a little overcooked.  Also overcooked – but intentionally so given the “fritta” designation – was the sea eel that lost any of its original flavor in the preparation and simply ended up tasting like a crispy fried thing.

Afonsino seized with brown butter, beetroot syrup, avocado brûlée, and sticky potato Alexia.

I’m amused by the description, the fish (aka Kinmedai) “seized” in brown butter.  It was a perfectly little piece of fish and that beetroot syrup was outstanding.  I felt a little let down by another description, the “avocado bruleee”, that turned out to be a few slices of slightly torched avocado.

Roasted rackof lamb, braised Jerusalem artichokes with saffron, fried squid and lemon paste mascarpone.
Lamb sweetbreads with almond, chestnut bursts.

A very good dish, especially that lemon paste mascarpone.  The squid were tiny but had a lot of flavor.

Normally, the cheese course wouldn’t excite me but I was delighted with Pierre Gagnaire’s version.

Roquefort cream, Banyuls reduction, slices of crispy bread.
Brillat Savarin-gren tea, milk jelly with cardamom.

And, not pictured: Brie de Meaux, persimmon and fresh pear.

I was pleasantly surprised by all three marvellous preparations.  A highlight of the night.

Speaking of highlights…

I had no idea what to expect when it came time for dessert.  All the menu said was: “Desserts inspired by traditional French pastries” and “Created using fruits, seasonal vegetables, low sugar confectionary and chocolate”.

So, what to expect?  Oh, anything and everything.  What follows are some snaps of the myriad of tiny sweets we were presented with:

Sachi asked for an alternate to chocolate and the kitchen presumably whipped up this substitute!
And this one!

All in all, a pretty remarkable meal.

By the time I got back to the hotel, I was exhausted and looking forward to a good night’s sleep.  Apparently, so was Akemi who had locked the door and drifted off.Unable to gain key access to the room, I knocked and rang and emailed – to no avail.  I ended up having to phone the room, rousing Akemi from her deep slumber. For a while there, I was entertaining the notion of just booking another room for the night.

As mentioned in yesterday’s entry, I’m off to Yokohama to meet up with my friend Moro-san.  No idea what she has in mind but I’m hoping it includes a trip to the famed Curry Museum – which will be a terrific substitute for the Mori Arts Museum which is closed during my visit. 🙁

Today’s breakfast/snack:

Lookit the says of dem grapes!

Today’s entry is dedicated to my sis, and her boy Aspen who, sadly, isn’t doing too well.

19 thoughts on “November 1, 2012: Tokyo Day #4! Pierre Gagnaire!

  1. My thoughts and prayers are with Aspen and especially your sister after having just lost Baby.

  2. Those desserts do look intriguing, and those grapes look more like plums!

    My thoughts are with your Sis and Aspen. My own pet lovebird is also not doing well at the moment. She has a vet appointment tomorrow so hopefully that will reveal what’s wrong.

  3. As usual great food pictures! Sorry to hear Aspen is not doing well, He is such a beautiful dog with his piercing eyes. Many {{{{{{{hugs}}}}}} to he and sis. Sending all the healing thoughts I can muster, Bless you Aspen.

  4. Oh, such a handsome Aspen. Sorry to hear he’s not doing too well. I was hoping he would come out of his ailment but I know he’s well taken care of. Hugs to Aspen and Sis.

  5. {{{Sis}}}… you took such good care of Baby, now Aspen is unwell. To be the caregiver to the loved ones, human or animal, takes a special person. All good thoughts and best wishes sent your way.

  6. I don’t think anyone can beat the japanese on the sheer elegance of their presentation, of food or other things. I’d be hard pressed to even eat, given the sheer beauty of those dishes.
    Enjoy the side trip to Yokohama. Though why didn’t you have a separate room key so that you didn’t have to disturb Akemi? Or have the Japanese invented yet another innovation that has not found its way here yet?
    Anyways, thanks for sharing and carpe diem.

  7. November 1st was Sushi day in Japan Joe, was half expecting a mention of it on here by you lol.

  8. Sorry to hear about Aspen. It’s really sad that our furry family’s lives are always so short. But I draw comfort in the fact that all of my animals have had great lives, and brought me great joy over the very short period they have been with me.

    Just wondering, Joe, with those meals, do you try to get every item on the plate in your mouth at the same time to enjoy the combination of flavours, or do you eat the food item by item individually? And that tea you had, do you stir it before consuming or just drink it as is?

    I would have no idea how to eat many of the dishes you were served. They look fun though. Oh, and do you use chop sticks where ever you go in Japan, or do the western dishes require western implements?


  9. Hang in there Aspen! We’re all pulling for you, buddy!

    An interesting meal, to say the least.

  10. Sis — Am so sorry to hear that your gorgeous Aspen boy, with the glacier blue eyes, is struggling. I have been down that road. Hate to hear this, especially after your family’s recent loss of Baby cat. Sending prayers for him, you, and his vets, too. {{{hugs}}}

  11. Awesome, stunningly beautiful. And the accompanying food bares spectacular description as well. In sampling the pictorial display I would feel apprehensive in disturbing these creations with utensils in the faint misbelieve that I would be disturbing a work of art. I almost thought the leave were Kaffir zesty lemon leaves. Such fare far exceeds my pigs stomach and bitter melon dish.

  12. We’re sending prayers and well wishes Sis and Aspen’s way, and hoping he makes a turn around soon.

    I’m with Sachi on the chocolate alternates and it looks like she received some good ones.

  13. Ya know, I love milk, but I don’t know about that milk jelly. Sounds kinda stomach turning. Now make that chocolate milk jelly and I’d give it a whirl.

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