On our last night in Osaka, we joined Akemi’s family for dinner at Le Comptoir de Benoit, an Alain Ducasse restaurant on the 33rd floor of the Breeze Building in Nishi-Umeda. We had counter seats which allowed us an unobstructed view of the open kitchen, allowing us to take in the culinary theatrics while we enjoyed our meal.
The open kitchen.
Akemi’s brother (Haruhiko) and sister (Hiromi) ready for some eating action.
Akemi’s mom and dad – focused!
A foie gras gelee topped with shaved truffles. Incredibly aromatic, all of its components melted in your mouth.
Langoustine and basil spring rolls with a romaine dipping sauce, creme fraiche, and caviar.
Abalone and escargot with parsley, garlic, and a delicious Japanese green whose name escapes me. Have never had abalone and escargot together, but they were a perfect combination. My favorite dish of the night.
A bouilliabaisse of mussel, clam, octopus, squid, crispy red seabreem, and saffron mashed potatoes.
Tender duck in porto sauce, beetroot, corn karaage, and a basil and ricotta ravioli with curry oil.
A raspberry cheesecake served with a side of yogurt sorbet.
And a few mignardises to end the meal. That matcha chocolate was delightfully intense.
The gang with Chef Soshi Ueno.
Chef Ueno thanked us for coming and informed us that, sadly, the restaurant would be shuttering its doors at month’s end. He has yet to make any decisions on his future but I do hope to track him down, wherever he lands, the next time I’m in town.
Somebody enjoyed just a little too much champagne.
This morning, we checked out of our hotel (The Intercontinental was fabulous by the way), and took a stroll through the nearby mall where Akemi spotted a Hattendo cream bun stand!
Under normal circumstances, with lunch a mere hour away, I wouldn’t have snacked…but it was Hattendo cream buns! With a seasonal chestnut cream flavor! I took one to go and ate it, surreptitiously, as some Japanese frown upon the consumption of food and drink in public places.
Mission accomplished, we caught the metro to our lunch destination.
Since we were traveling off-hours, I got to ride in the famed Women Only compartment where I sprawled out on a chaise longue and was served a cosmopolitan. The rumors were true!
We disembarked and I consulted this handy map. Then, we were on our way…
We came across this interesting company logo.
And this even more interesting building face.
Finally, after Akemi almost got run over by a rogue cyclist, we found the place, Fujiya 1935, so named because it’s been open since 1935. Its present Chef, Tetsuya Fujiwara, has been running the kitchen for ten years now and has earned the restaurant 3 Michelin stars three years running.
Some of the culinary highlights from our final meal with Akemi’s family on this trip:
A silky sweet butternut squash soup with grape sorbet.
Fluffy fresh-baked chestnut bread topped with whipped ricotta.
Tai (red snapper) sashimi served with a tomato consomme gelee, gingko, basil oil, shiso flowers, olives, and okra flower. Akemi’s favourite dish.
Crisp confit ayu (sweetfish) served with a sauce made of river seaweed.
Pasta with roasted mackerel.
3 month-aged beef served with a raw porcini sauce and accompaniments.
Unfortunately, we had a shinkasen to catch so we missed dessert which, by all accounts, was spectacular. Maybe next year!
Back to Tokyo! We’ll be getting in at around 6:30 p.m. By the time we check in, it’ll be around 7:30. Rather than make a reservation somewhere, we’re planning to hit the basement level of the nearby Mitsukoshi Department store which offers several hundred varieties of delicious dining options, from sushi to pork cutlet sandwiches, steamed buns to pastries.
Finally, if you’re a fan of the Stargate television franchise, you might like to check out this article by long-time Stargate science consultant Mika McKinnon:
Tomorrow, I plan to hit Tsukiji Market for breakfast, peruse Akihabara (Electric Town, Anime Geek Central), and visit my old friends at Ginza’s Pierre Marcolini Cafe, before heading out for our most anticipated meal of this trip: dinner at Esquisse.