Thursday, November 27, 2014

L'Embellir in Tokyo, the second time around. And how I like it over Quintessence and L'Effervescence.


Back in Tokyo today, living a Travelife, I had lunch at my current favourite new French restaurant in Aoyama, which is in one of the most fashionable neighbourhoods of the city.

It's called L'Embellir, and it's a Michelin two-star restaurant with crisp and cool interiors, a professional staff and a friendly chef.

I had lunch here for the first time last month, when I was last in Tokyo, and I was very impressed with what they could do and serve for a lunch menu.

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A GREAT LUNCH
AT L'EMBELLIR

Lots of restaurants can serve a very good meal for an expensive price.

The trick is to see what they can do at lunch, when prices are capped.

Lunch at L'Embellir is still not cheap, mind you, at about $80 per person, but it's well-priced by Tokyo standards for a Michelin two-star restaurant.

SECOND TIME AROUND


I was so happy with my first meal here last month that when my friend asked me where I wanted to have lunch, I immediately requested L'Embellir.

Fortunately we got a booking for a table for two today, which is about two weeks' advance notice to get a lunch table on a weekday.

WALKING TO L'EMBELLIR


It was such a nice and warm day in Tokyo -- warm especially for the end of November -- that I decided to walk to the restaurant and back, instead of taking my car and having to look for a parking space.

It's not far and it's a very nice walk along Omotesando Boulevard, which is Tokyo's prettiest avenue.

Besides, I was eager to burn some tagine calories from Morocco.


AS GOOD AS THE FIRST TIME

Lunch today was just as good as the first time, which makes me want to find another excuse to go back to L'Embellir when I can.

Unfortunately, I'm headed out of Tokyo soon so it'll have to wait until my trip next year.




The amuse bouche looked exactly the same as last time, although it tasted entirely different because it had essence of turtle and some balsamic vinegar in it today.

This was followed by two beautiful and plump oysters in a soup. Again, a very nice dish for a winter menu.



THE PIECE DE RESISTANCE TODAY
AT L'EMBELLIR

But the star of the day was the fish dish, which was so good I could have eaten three more of these.

The fish was topped with a type of Japanese onion and flavoured with vinegar and soy sauce. It was perfect -- crisp on the outside and incredibly tender inside.


In contrast, the duck that came as a main course was good, but it was overshadowed by the perfect handling of the fish.

In fact, I told them: "This is just about the best fish dish I've had in recent memory."

This is a big statement for me, considering where I've eaten in the last six months or so, going all over the world, living a Travelife.

THE CHEF WON ME OVER WITH FRUIT

Meanwhile, just like last time, dessert was based on a fruit of the season.

The last time I was here, we had four different kinds of raisin in a dessert. This time we had peaches with walnuts in a yoghurt sauce, topped with caramelised sugar.



I am not at all a fruit person for dessert, and a fruit-based dish is the last thing I will order on a dessert menu.

I will always go for the chocolate over the fruit, which is also why our readers and friends on a Travelife to Morocco with me until last weekend had to (happily) eat a lot of chocolate dessert in Morocco.

I chose the menus for all the meals in Morocco, of course.

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"Best trip ever."

Join the next Travelife to Morocco
April 18 - 27, 2015

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RAISINS ON MY MIND

But it's a testament to the chef's genius that he's won me over twice now with a fruit dessert that I could just have all over again.



In fact, I can't ever forget the raisin dessert from last time.

If only for that dessert, I wish I'd booked L'Embellir twice last month, as it's a seasonal thing and it's now off the menu.

THE STARS OF NEW FRENCH COOKING
IN TOKYO


Chef Kishimoto of L'Embellir was featured in a Japanese magazine called Metro this month, by the way, along with three other star chefs in Tokyo: the chefs of Quintessence and L'Effervescence, plus one more restaurant in Omotesando with very good prices for what is supposed to be an excellent meal.

MY FAVORITE OUT OF THREE

Quintessence and L'Effervescence are also both in the three-star and two-star Michelin category. Quintessence used to be the hottest restaurant in Tokyo while L'Effervescence is the current favourite.

L'Embellir is the least high-profile of these three.

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But having eaten in all three, I'm happy to put on record that Chateau Restaurant Joel Robuchon is still my all-time favourite French restaurant in Tokyo in terms of overall experience.

As for L'Embellir, it's my current (relatively) new French restaurant in Tokyo. 

And it beats Quintessence and L'Effervescence in my book -- at least for this delicious moment, in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.




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