by Basak Ulukose
You’ve probably noticed — If you have spent enough time in Japan — how Japanese people are fond of abbreviating and often merging foreign words together. Starbucks is turns into to “Sta-Ba,” McDonalds changes to “Maku” and chocolate is shortened to”choko.” Newly opened, Arvinard is no exception to this linguistic practice as it brings together three French words to create a unique idea. “Ar” is from the French word for tree, <arbre>, “vin” from the French for wine and “ard” from canard — a duck. The marriage of these three words is representative of the inspiration for the restaurant itself: A simple, relaxing décor complimented by walnut wood flooring and table centerpieces; a broad selection of wines; and the house special, simple roast duck.
The duck is one of the most delicious options from a diverse entrée menu that includes lamb, beef, chicken, pork, quail and the rare, delicious choice of rabbit. Nicholas, the assistant manager who warmly attended us throughout our feast, explained that understanding the ingredients and discipline in cooking is essential to appreciating the French cuisine served by the head chef at Arvinard, Tetsuya Shimada, whose aim is to awaken all of the senses of diners. We started off with a delicious amuse-bouche of chicken liver pate, a butter mousse infused with cumin and crispy slices of toasted baguette. This warmed us up for what turned out to be a 3-hour experience that led to a selection of entrée including a delicious beef and pork terrine, a smoked salmon terrine with okra and chicken in a honey and Okinawan shikwasa (a lemon-like fruit) sauce surrounded by coarsely chopped seasonal vegetables.
All were artistically presented in clever and unusual ways that showed of Shimada’s obvious creativity. Between entrées and main dishes we were served ice-cold gazpacho, which primed our appetites for the melt-in-your-mouth red snapper in creamy butter and roast duck in honey, coriander and sweet wine sauce. And of course then there was the sweet finale! The French certainly have perfected the art of dessert: We were served a delicious chocolate soufflé with a scoop of pistachio gelato, and berries in jelly with hibiscus gelato. Arvinard has private rooms available if you are looking for a more intimate experience. Entrées start at ¥1500, course menus from ¥6300. If you really want to experience all that Arvinard has to offer, go for the Prestige set, a ¥12,000 course that includes an amuse bouche, appetizers, soup, a fish dish, a meat dish, cheese, dessert, coffee and more.