High fashion dining of impeccable taste
by Christine Cunanan-Miki
A meal at Beige is a total experience that starts with dressing up for dinner. It’s almost inevitable that you will pay a little more attention to your wardrobe when you realize that this restaurant combines Alain Ducasse’s cooking style with Chanel’s fashionable elegance, top New York interior designer Peter Marino’s sophistication, and Ginza’s glamour.
The result is a restaurant that wows and a clientele that looks like it effortlessly stepped out of the pages of Vogue. The interiors alone — Chanel’s signature beige, of course, and a variety of gold and browns in all kinds of industrial materials — are worth a visit as this is probably Tokyo’s chicest design restaurant right now.
Meanwhile, the food is fun and fashionably modern — a bold and exciting challenge to the palate, in the same tradition as other contemporary and highly-popular Alain Ducasse restaurants such as Spoon in Paris and Hong Kong, and Mix in New York (which are very different in style from his Michelin-starred classic restaurants in Monaco and Paris). The dishes at these restaurants are generally created to be enjoyed with your hair down and, in some cases, almost to drag you out of your everyday thinking box into considering the innumerable extraordinary combinations of ingredients possible. Think rabbit in a coconut sauce or beef coated with a concoction you usually have for dessert, and you’ll get the picture.
However, at Beige, this shock value is happily tempered perhaps both by the chef’s personal style, Chanel’s elegant atmosphere and Japanese conservativeness, so that the dishes are a well-balanced combination of tradition and innovation. It’s no secret that most Japanese diners prefer classic cooking over food they can’t recognize — no matter how fancy. Therefore Beige’s deliciously interesting pairings of chicken spread with crayfish or basil ice cream with cherries, for example, will certainly be applauded by Tokyo’s adventurous gourmets as offering the best of both worlds. Moreover, in keeping with contemporary trends, almost everything we sampled that night was light and healthy, with an emphasis on respecting and bringing out natural flavors.
Thirty-year-old David Bellin, who has worked with Alain Ducasse in France for ten years, presides over the kitchens in Tokyo with a passion for finding the best and freshest ingredients, and — most appropriately for a restaurant that sits on top of the Japanese flagship store of one of the most recognizable fashion brands in the world — a flair for turning food into works of art. Each dish arrived at our table looking too beautiful to eat, just like some Chanel creations, which are almost too beautiful to wear.
Perhaps the best-kept secret of Beige lies on its rooftop, where champagne and a gorgeous view of Tokyo await diners who are able to book this space in advance. For ¥5000 per person (including champagne and crudites), diners can have the entire building rooftop to themselves (only one booking is accepted per evening), whether they are a party of two or 20, before they go on to dinner below. It’s the perfect spot to propose marriage, to dance al fresco with nobody watching, or even just to hold hands and quietly watch the stars.
WHAT TO EAT
For starters, the East-West arrangement of raw scallops and Oscietra caviar in a cresson sauce (Noix de Saint-Jacques et tongues d’oursins au caviar Oscietre, ¥7,300) and the tangy tuna in balsamic sauce and a chopped herb salad (Thon Rouge laque a l’aceto balsamico, ¥4,200) are highly recommended. Among the main courses, our favorites were the tender beef with olives and black truffles in a red wine sauce (Piece de boeuf akagegyu, ¥7,800) and a wonderful roast chicken from Bresse that was stuffed with herbs under the skin (Volaille de Bresse, ¥12,800 for two persons). And don’t miss Beige’s signature dessert, whit h is a mouthwatering chocolate praline and ice cream set with the Chanel logo (Carre Chanel, ¥2,100).
WHAT TO DRINK
Interestingly, Beige has several good Japanese wines and spirits including a well-balanced white wine from the Koshu region (Kodaru-jikomi, Chateau Mercian 2003, ¥1,600 per glass), a very nice brandy called “La Flutiste” from Yamanashi Prefecture (Kizan, ¥1,680 per glass), and good old fashioned ume-shu (¥1,260 per glass), which was excellent with dessert. If you like champagne, don’t miss the Cuvee Speciale Alain Ducasse from Paul Drouet (¥2,100 per glass).
WHERE TO SIT
I’m partial to the tables by the floor-to-ceiling windows, which give you both views of the restaurant and of Ginza.
HOW MUCH DID IT COST
Dinner Listing menus start from ¥17,000 while wine tasting menus to accompany your meal start from ¥3,750. Expect to spend at least ¥50,000 per couple including service charges.
WHO GOES THERE
Lots of VIPs and beautiful people. I was there for lunch one day and the president of Hermes Japan was walking at ross the room. On this particular review night, the restaurant was full of fashionable women and successful entrepreneurial-type executives.
WHO TO ASK FOR
Yoko Katsukura for reservations and dinner recommendations, and sommelier Norie llarada for wines.
3-5-3 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Tel. 03-5159-5500, Fax: 03-5159-5501