Joel Robuchon is an absolutely legendary figure. The chef of the century, progenitor of the Nouvelle cuisine movement across France and the entire globe. I had tried L’Atelier in Bangkok, which was very good. With that, I was definitely keen to experience the Chateau Joel Robuchon in Ebisu, Tokyo; pocket willing that is.
Upon arriving at Ebisu, I was surprised by the presence of a tiny French style Chateau in the middle of Tokyo, which houses the legendary restaurant.
I was then led upstairs into the very elegant dining room. Service was particularly friendly and relaxed despite the rather fancy setting. In fact, the staff were jovial and warm, and felt like they’re happy that you’re dining there! This was quite a contrast against Quintessence, which was austere and rather professional.
Now, on to the food! Bread cart was absolutely amazing, stocked with Basil bread, rosemary brioche, ham and cheese puffs, and a whole raft of other options. For the starter, there was the sea urchin with Crustacean gelee, cauliflower foam and dots of parsley. A very light and elegant dish, with a pronounced lobster flavour. Perfect start to the summer!
Next, was the deep fried egg with caviar, cream and smoked salmon. The latter three ingredients are quite the classic combination, but the deep fried egg added another dimension with the texture, as well as the runny yolk that augmented the dish.
Folks who don’t eat foie gras are truly missing out on one of the greatest things in life. This particular version was served with fresh, warm cherries and almonds. A very luxurious and well balanced dish.
The subsequent dish was the pan seared Seabass with light spices, and a red wine sauce added with fresh grape juice. Definitely the heavier dish with the fish well cooked, and the sauce was quite intense albeit borderline salty. Not my favourite of the night, I must say.
For the main course, I had the truffle crusted rack of lamb, fresh herb salad, asparagus, and the very decadent Joel Robuchon’s signature pomme puree. All the components were well cooked, but the star of the dish for me was the pomme puree, which was utterly magnificent.
For the cheese course, I had the combination of Comte, Epoisses, and Fourme D’Ambert. I particularly enjoyed the creamy Epoisses.
Next, the “Avant Dessert” was the coconut creme with rum and passionfruit sorbet. Quite a nice combination, and very summer appropriate dish to cleanse the palate.
The dessert course was the Chartreuse Verte souffle with pistachio ice cream. The souffle was perfect with the hint of Chartreuse, but the pistachio ice cream was out of this world. There’s pistachio ice cream, and there’s this. C’est Magnifique, as a Frenchman might possibly put it.
There was then a hidden surprise desset, which came in the form of a very tiny and “kawaii” chocolate tart. Some chocolates tart can be overwhelming, but this one struck the right balance.
We concluded the evening with a rather amazing selection of petit fours. I particularly enjoyed the black sesame macaron, which I suppose is an ode to Japon. The pineapple donut was also quite ridiculously delicious, I might add.
The damage came up to 33,000 yen, and adding to that is another 12% service charge. Not intending to spend this sort of moolah anytime soon, and shall revert back to instant noodles after my Tokyo sojourn. That being said, it was an excellent meal with many highlights, as well as impeccable service by the very competent staff.
Although nouvelle French cuisine appears a tad dated compared to Modern restaurants nowadays e.g. Noma, El Bulli, etc.; but the flavours are still amazing, and actually quite comforting. It was quite Avant Garde back in the day, and Joel Robuchon inspired many chefs to forgo the Classic French cuisine for a concept which is more seasonal, clean and elegant. We probably have him to thank for a cuisine that is now ubiquitous across the modern world.
Location: Chateau Joel Robuchon. Yebisu Garden Place, 1-13-1, Mita, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0062. +81(03)-5424-1347. Website.