I have at least one revelatory dining experience every time I visit Tokyo and, on this trip, it was the dinner I had at Esquisse, Tokyo’s hottest French restaurant.  Located on the 9th floor of the Royal Crystal Ginza, Esquisse has only been open a year and a half but, in that short time, under the stewardship of the Head Chef Lionel Beccat, it has made a name for itself amongst a host of culinary luminaries.

How great was our meal?  Well, it was so good that Akemi, who had hitherto proclaimed herself “not a fan of French cuisine”, did an about face and has now declared herself very much a fan.  At least so far as Esquisse is concerned.  “The best meal I’ve eaten on this trip,”was what she said.  And we’ve had A LOT of terrific meals on this trip.

Every dish was a visual marvel, and the intricacies of its textural and flavor combinations nothing short of incredible.  Descriptions would not do any of them justice so, instead, feast your eyes…

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Chef Lionel Beccat
Chef Lionel Beccat

If you’re making plans to visit Tokyo, put this one at the top of your To-Do list.

Esquisse: Royal Crystal Ginza 9F, 5-4-6 Ginza, Tokyo

Overall, it was another of good eating.  We were out the door fairly early this morning so that Akemi could check out one of her favorite chocolate shops, Chocolat de H, which had relocated to Shibuya’s Shin Q department store.  We walked the basement food section and I snapped some surreptitious pics.  For some reason photography is not permitted in the building so, if you report me, I’ll deny any knowledge of the photos or this blog…

Joel Robuchon baked goods
Joel Robuchon baked goods
Sebastien Bouillet popsicle-shaped cheesecakes.
Sebastien Bouillet popsicle-shaped cheesecakes.
Sebastien Bouillet owl and ladybug cakes (contain no actual owl or ladybugs).
Sebastien Bouillet owl and ladybug cakes (contain no actual owl or ladybugs).
The bread spread
The bread spread

We picked up a few desserts (for later) and had just enough time to cram them into our hotel fridge before heading downstairs to meet up with Akemi’s old friend and co-worker, Nihei, who took us to lunch.

Don't see many of these in Canada.
Don’t see many of these in Canada.

We walked the five blocks over to Kushino Bou, a terrific kushiage restaurant.  For those not in the know, kushiage cuisine offers an assortment of panko-crusted deep-fried favorites.  We were seated at counter and were instructed to simply tell them “Stop” when we’d had enough.  And then it began, skewer after skewer after skewer after skewer…

Saddle up to the counter at Kouji Bou
Saddle up to the counter at Kushino Bou
Two types of kushiage: beef, shrimp and shiso
Two types of kushiage: beef, shrimp and shiso
Shitake mushroom?  I think.
Shitake mushroom? I think.
Skewer receptacle

Akemi maxed out at around twelve.  Nihei and I managed about twenty.  Apparently, the restaurant’s average repertoire includes anywhere from 40-50 different skewers a seating, so if you’re planning to “sample a bit of everything”, make sure to skip breakfast.

After lunch, we strolled over to Akemi’s former workplace, Pierre Marcolini, where we picked up some thank-you chocolates for Nihei.

Akemi and Nihei, our affable host
Akemi and Nihei, our affable host

We bid our host a fond farewell and burned off lunch with a little walk so that we could return to the hotel room and sample the desserts we had purchased that morning…

Clockwise from left to right: chocolates from Chocolat de H, cheesecake from Paul Basset, chocolate mousse cake from Sebastien Bouillet, and chocolate and pistachio mousse from Toshi Yoroizuka.
Clockwise from left to right: chocolates from Chocolat de H, cheesecake from Paul Bassett, chocolate mousse cake from Sebastien Bouillet, and chocolate and pistachio mousse from Toshi Yoroizuka.

Not a bad one in the bunch.  The cheesecake was particularly intriguing – not overly sweet and a touch salty.

In the afternoon, we did a little advance Christmas shopping.  Among the notable sights:

What kid wouldn't want this?
What kid wouldn’t want this?
Former employee of the Robot Restaurant, now reduced to working retail.
Former employee of the Robot Restaurant, now reduced to working retail.

And we capped off our night at….where else?…Star Bar.  Check out Master Kishi-san doing his thing.  He’s a machine!

Star Bar: 1-5-13 Ginza, Chuo

18 thoughts on “November 16, 2013: Tokyo Day #11! Esquisse! Kushiage! Star Bar!

  1. That’s more art than food at Esquisse. I would hate to even eat it since it would destroy it. I totally would, of course, but I would hate doing it.

    So. Much. Food. Not sure how you guys pull it off – I think I’m putting on wait just reading this blog the last few days.

  2. Joe, you have a spectacularly efficient constitution. The food looks interesting and the presentation of each course looks wonderful and I am so jealous. So nice to see how you and Akemi are enjoying your trip.

  3. Those dishes are absolutely stunning! Thanks so much for sharing, sir! 🙂

    Been quite busy – read the new Pendergast book in two days, and currently spending way too much time ‘discussing’ it (more like ‘gushing’ it!) in a discussion group. And then there’s work. And leaves. Lots and lots of leaves. Still about two weeks (or more) before the trees shed all, but each day we rake more out to the curb for pickup (it seems ours is the only street they haven’t brought the leave vac down yet – as usual 🙄 ). Had a tooth filled today, and then went out and bought a bunch of chocolate fudge. 😛 Mom had us for dinner tonight (why yes, we were yummy! 😉 ), and now I’m just chilling, trying to decide what to read next. That’s about it. My life is certainly not as exciting – or interesting – as yours, Joey.

    Continue enjoying your trip! I hope sis is enjoying your home and pups..and eating up ALL your chocolate! 😀


  4. The bread spread

    most of those pictures are drool-worthy (especially the desserts) but the bread! i love a nice piece of buttered bread,

    about the kushiage restaurant; do you tell them what kind of stuff you like, or they just give you whatever?

  5. Glad you are having a good time. Look at all those desserts, the bread, the skewers, the bread, the desserts. Great pictures. 😀

  6. Also spending WAAAAAY too much watching Tom Hiddleston/Loki vids on youtube. 😛


  7. A feast for the eyes…and your and Akemi’s tummy. Looks really good.
    My exciting foodie thing – some make believe Oreo like cookies and a chopped salad (no bell peppers) from Fratellos. Very nice…but sure pales in comparison to your feast.

  8. Beautiful pictures of the food at Esquisse. And I’m glad you didn’t say what it was. I’m sure it was something like guts, butts, and innards, but I am imagining it’s fish medleys or beef and vegetable supreme.

    So what you got crammed in your hotel fridge? All desserts? Got a picture? The desserts in that picture look heavenly!

  9. Just want to share this – pretty awesome, in my humble…

    12-year-old girl covers Tool’s 46 & 2 (one of my favorites of theirs). Knowing the song well it took me some time to get used to the girl’s higher voice, but she does one hellava job, especially as the song progresses. I’m most impressed, however, by the young bassist tackling this piece so well, especially seeing as how Tool’s bassist Justin Chancellor is considered one of the best and most innovative out there, and the bassline in this song is considered one of the top best in rock. When I hear this version of the song start, I can’t tell it from the real thing. (I am a bass freak, so that impresses me. 🙂 )

    Also, keep in mind I’ve asked adult cover bands if they do any Tool songs, and I’ve always been met with the same response – their music is too complicated. Even if you don’t like the style, you have to be impressed by the young talent. (This teacher had students do a Pantera cover a couple years back, which was also excellent and I may have posted it here, too.)

    Anyway, give a listen and at least enjoy the opening bassline, if just for moi…



  10. @ Tam Dixon – Food porn. Heh. 🙂

    Speaking of porn, I’m more of’a hand porn sort… *goes back to surfing for pics of Hiddleston’s sexy digits…*


  11. I wouldn’t call it food porn so much as the equivalent of tasteful nudes! 😉

  12. @das, wow! That sounds amazing! I don’t know the original song that well so it all sounded fabulous to me, very cinematic. These kids are amazingly creative!

  13. I think I could survive on bread and chocolate while I was there. Assuming I’d survive the insulin surge. And the shitake mushroom thing.

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