Restaurant Review – L’Effervescence

The name L’Effervescence would seem to evoke some semblance of liveliness and bubbliness to the food, which is apt after having completed the rather enjoyable meal. The restaurant itself is tucked away within the Nishi-Azabu area, which is approximately 15 min walk from the Omotesando subway station at Harajuku.

The chef, Shinobu Namae, had previously trained with Michel Bras as well as Heston Blumenthal from the Fat Duck. His style of cuisine was decidedly modern French, similar in vein with the likes of Frenchie and Spring, and using the best ingredients that Japan had to offer. I opted for the “Une promenade” course, which consisted of some of the best hits from the dinner menu, trimmed down for lunch service.

Service was rather friendly and attentive. The sommelier, Kazuki-san, was a nice and curious chap, patiently describing the wines to me, as well as asking about me and learning a few words of Malay to boot. I must say, his pronunciation was spot on! The Maitre D’Hotel, Zac, was a Frenchman who was quite professional albeit very nice as well. I definitely felt welcomed at this establishment.

Now, onwards to the food!

For the amuse bouche, we started off with a corn mousse with basket clam and sea urchin. The flavours were quite delicate, but punctuated by the sweetness of the corn. This came with a Nitro frozen tomato and tarragon granita, which was quite refreshing.

Corn mousse with basket clam and sea urchin. Nitro tomatoes and tarragon granita.
Corn mousse with basket clam and sea urchin. Nitro tomatoes and tarragon granita.

The next course was a rice hay smoked and grilled Bonito, served with “Gassan Dake” bamboo shoots, morels, shiso sauce, and flower. I particularly enjoyed the delicate and smokey Bonito, and the bamboo shoots from the Gassan Dake mountain also gave a nice bite to the dish.

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Rice hay smoked and grilled Bonito, Gassan Dake bamboo shoots, morels, Shiso sauce, and flowers

The subsequent course was the Chef’s signature dish, which was a whole turnip roasted for 4 hours, served with parsley oil emulsion, Kintoa Basque ham, and brioche croutons. This was undoubtedly the best turnip I’ve ever had, which was amazingly juicy and concentrated in flavour. I was told that turnips would reveal different characteristics depending on the season of which it was harvested. For spring, it would typically impart  some bitterness to it, whilst it would be sweeter during winter. I honestly never really appreciated the wonders of the humble turnip, and this was a definite revelation for me.

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Four hour cooked turnip, parsley oil emulsion, Kintoa Basque ham, and brioche croutons

Next, just to keep things summery, the chef served a foie gras terrine with carrot sauce, St. Maure & semi dried tomatoes, Shotsurru (fish sauce) caramel, and Japanese parsley. This was a nicely balanced dish with the sweet and savoury elements complementing each other. The Shotsurru caramel, which was made with a type of Japanese fish sauce, paired well with the foie gras.

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Foie gras terrine, carrot sauce, St. Maure & semi dried tomatoes, Shottsuru caramel, and Japanese parsley

For the main course, we had a roasted Hakkinton pork sirloin, homemade sour cream, gaper clam (similar to Geoduck), cucumber, dandelion leaves, grilled lardo oil, and wild pepper. The pork was beautifully cooked, and the gaper clam added a nice chewy texture to the fish. I just learned that Hakkinton is a premium type of pork available in Japan, which is also classified as a “Platinum pork” and similar in quality with Kurobuta pork.

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Roasted Hakkinton pork sirloin, homemade sour cream, gaper clam, cucumber, dandelion leaves, grilled lardo oil, and wild pepper

Finally, the dessert course consisted of Sachinoka strawberries, crepe of black sesame wheat, marshmellow and cherry leaves ice cream, dill flowers and a hint of Shochu, topped off with lemon zest. This was definitely one of my favourites, especially with the texture from the crepe (which resembled mochi), and the tang from the lemon zest. The strawberries were also amazingly fresh, and sweeter than most that I’ve had.

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Sachinoka strawberries, black sesame wheat crepe, marshmellow and cherry leaves ice cream, dill flower, and a hint of Shochu

We concluded with a rather interesting set of petit fours. I rather enjoyed the white chocolate sponge topped with tender spruce from a pine tree, which was sweet and pleasantly grassy.

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Petit Fours

This was undoubtedly one of my favourite meals of the trip. The food was seasonal, well executed, and appropriate for the summer weather. Ingredients were mostly sourced locally with the exception of the foie gras. Despite the chef’s training at the Fat Duck, the dishes had minimal “molecular” elements and were mostly and simply delicious food.

L’Effervescence is definitely one for the books, and I’m keen to return here again whenever I’m back in Tokyo.

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Kazuki, myself and Zac

Location: 2-26-4 Nishi-azabu, Minato-ku Tokyo, 106-0031. +81(03)57669500. Website.

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