Immediate impression of Quintessence, located within Shinagawa, is harmony and subtlety in flavour.
The restaurant appears very discreet with an almost austere design. I suppose this reflects the chef’s sensibilities, as well as his style of cuisine. The chef had trained with Pascal Barbot in L’Astrance, Paris, which I’d tried before a few years back and had many pleasant memories of.
Unfortunately photos were not allowed, so I shall endeavour to describe the dishes with prose. The menu was of a carte blanche concept, basically serving dishes made with the best ingredients of the day. Not a foreign concept, but execution is of paramount importance.
We started with 6 appetizers. As an amuse bouche, we started with a toast of Shiitake ane porcini powder. This had an intense mushroom umami flavour, which was excellent. Next, we had the chilled sweet corn soup that was incredibly and naturally sweet, and very much suitable for the summer weather at the moment. After that, we had the chef’s signature dish of goat milk bavarois, olive oil, bretagne sea salt, macadamia and some local root vegetable. The olive oil was incredibly fragrant, which was nicely paired with the sea salt. Brilliant dish, I must say. Subsequently was a foie gras terrine with some local fruit that was both sweet and sour. Also a very well balanced dish. The next appetizer was the squid stuffed with gnocchi, served with a sauce made from sundried tomatoes and squid liver. An intensely flavour dish that was initially salty, but ended up quite balanced with the addition of the shards of asparagus.
Now, for the fish course of roasted golden snapper with Sauternes and grapefruit sauce, and the most luscious aubergines A good dish, albeit the fish could have been cooked a bit less.
The meat course was a milk veal initially roasted at 220 deg C, served with an Okinawan passionfruit sauce, white asparagus and green beans. A good dish, but honestly not the best I’ve had.
Now, for the desserts. First, was the Fourme d’ambert, which was nicely served with a toast and plum compote. After that was the very subtle and beautiful coconut pudding with pistachio oil and espresso. And the finale, was the incredibly meringue, egg yolk, and milk ice cream. Desserts here were definitely the star of the meal.
I reckon the three Michelin stars were well deserved. The chef has an immense respect for the ingredients, and ensured that the flavour of each component was present. Impeccable service, and well executed dishes albeit not quite up to the level of L’Astrance. That being said, the chef is merely 41 years of age, and with plenty of potential to be realized.
Location: 141-000 Shinagawa-Ku Kitashinagawa 6-7-29 Garden City Shinagawa Gotenyama 1F. +81(03)-6277-0090. Website.