L’Effervescence, Nishi Azabu

Food & Drink - October 4th, 2010

Newly opened French restaurant draws on the expertise Executive chef Shinobu Namae gained at award winning The Fat Duck in Berkshire, England a restaurant famed for molecular gastronomy. Chef Namae created a dual menu concept, ‘La Lumiere’ and ‘L’Ombre’,  (light and shade,) The dishes are divided between lighter and stronger, darker courses. Couples are recommended to share to appreciate both sides. (Dinner ¥15,750 each)

To begin, a shot of cold fruit tomato soup and a mini cone of caviar, suspended in a glass of sesame seeds. Though the menu suggests two bites, but they were too delicious, in one mouthful each were gone.

The following plate contained what appeared to be a fast-food restaurant apple pie, though the bright red paper packet hid a witty foie gras, chicken and apple parcel. The kitchen clearly have a sense of humour. Chef Namae commented “When I first ate this type of pie I couldn’t decide whether it was a dessert or food. I tried to have fun with the concept but using the best ingredients.”

The la lumiere menu began with sashimi, very delicate in appearance and taste, served with chefs special, Tokyo udo (mountain asparagus). L’Ombre started with Tara white fish soup with truffles, shitake, zucchini, the frothy broth sweetened by a slice of mango.

As the twin courses continued, each plate became more anticipated that the last. On a slab of black marble we were presented devilishly silky foie gras, unusually served un-cooked with simple beets and sour cream. For the lighter menu and a highlight of the meal, mini turnips picked near mount Fuji, slow cooked for an incredible four hours.

The meat course was superb, wonderfully rich filet of beef with shitake and potato puree, versus succulent chicken with anis, pumpkin, Chinese vegetables and dry olives. Each dish built upon the taste of the last and the portion sizes were just right to encourage a long evening of dining. You can easily spend three to four hours here.

Before the dessert a critical choice, cheese or vegetable salad. The Maître d’ Booluck Prothiviraj, who opened Alain Ducasse’s Tokyo restaurants, personally offered this suggestion to the chefs. Many Japanese customers found the traditional cheese selection too much, so a light biological salad sourced from two independent farms was created to help complete the meal. Though if you are hungry, the rich cheeses go very well with the expertly chosen wine.

To finish the extended dining experience, a plate of tiny deserts that the chef insisted must be eaten in order. Frozen lime jelly, apricot chocolate and a mini home made ‘Chuppa-Chup’, filled with popping candy. The chef clearly values surprises “Popping candy was a good childhood memory – I wanted to have fun”, said Namae “Eight to ten dishes can be tough, I like to put an accent or trick in each”.

Lunch 12:00 – 14:00(L.O)
Dinner 18:00 – 21:30(L.O)
Closed on Monday

2-26-4 Nishi-azabu,
Minato-ku Tokyo, 106-0031
Tel 03-5766-9500   Fax 03-5766-9501

Photos courtesy of L’Effervescence.