Never let it be said that a shaving of truffle is a garnish, something that merely adds to the dish and that should be used sparingly. Or that anything else will do.
For it can be just the punch in the face a diner needs and at ekki, it was just what got me going.
Turning up in Marunouchi one evening in October and not heading for the new Tokyo station building was tricky, such was the attraction of the newly illuminated area that for so long has been a building site. From the table at ekki Bar & Grill, part of the Four Seasons Hotel at Marunouchi, though, you can still see that the area is not quite complete – and this is not half a bad place at which to pull up a chair and watch its progress.
I came to ekki to get a taste of its anniversary menu and found that chef Sotiris Ananiadis, originally from Greece and now in Tokyo via spells at Michelin starred restaurants in France, was celebrating ingredients as well as ekki’s 10th birthday.
If the scattering of that truffle around my asparagus and prosciutto was the stand-out welcome, my foie gras torchon with Champagne jelly had been a mere warm up.
The cured meat and was cut by acidity from the truffle vinaigrette and with a woody acidity also somewhere lingering in the asparagus, the (not stingy) black truffle shavings were no afterthought. They made the dish something whole and brought a rich, earthy flavour to the plate, accentuated by the grilling the greens had been given.
After all that, more autumnal celebration. Porcini and scallop risotto was lighter than expected despite the ‘healthy’ portion size considering what was to follow (well, this is a celebration, after all) and was matched quite neatly with a glass of our smart sommelier’s favourite Australian red.
The beef which came next (photo above) was neatly seasoned and cooked, if I am having fillet, just how I like it. Served with what is keenly described as “potato gaufrette” (crisps to the English – but they did add a nice bit of crunch) the meat was just the right side of tender, with a bite that was satisfyingly full of juice.
Some say fillet lacks the fat needed to get the true ‘steaky’ flavour and I am occasionally inclined to agree but, here, it was just about right. And its other accompaniments on the plate were another example of Chef Ananiadis’ willingness to not plate up anything that does not deserve to be there.
Chef Ananiadis tells me that here at ekki, the end of a meal is all about the celebration of one ingredient so, with what he calls “Chocoholic”, he has cheated a little.
Or perhaps, I realise, he has come up with a masterstroke with the inclusion of sechuan pepper in the chocolate mousse. Its almost citrusy tang perks the dish into something more whole in a way I haven’t tasted before – chocolate is usually only something I’ll get excited about as a dessert if it is ultra rich and dark, something of a substitute for a sharp espresso perhaps, but here it works very nicely indeed.
I leave ekki with the impression that what I’ve eaten would have cost more in more auspicious surroundings and that quite a special dinner can be had without entering the upper echelons of the limits of the wallet or, indeed, feeling like I needed to wear a suit. At ekki Bar & Grill, I could just as easily have tucked in to a burger and a glass of beer as toasted friends with Champagne.
I ate ekki Bar & Grill 10th Anniversary Menu which costs 10,000 yen a head and includes a glass of sparkling wine and coffee. The menu will be served until until Nov 30th. See the Four Seasons Marunouchi website for more information.
Thanksgiving Day Offer – Win a Meal for Two
ekki Bar & Grill is serving a special Thanksgiving menu for those of you who want to celebrate and enjoy Thanksgiving Day in Tokyo in style.
From November 22nd to 25th the chef will showcase full-blown Thanksgiving meals with all the traditional trimmings: roast turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and more.
Lunch / Brunch (Brunch weekend only) is 4,500 yen
Dinner 7,800 yen (Prices includes tax and excludes 15% service charge)
For your chance to win a Thanksgiving dinner for two, email email@example.com with your name, making sure to write ‘ekki Bar & Grill’ in the subject line.
This competition is now closed.
Text by Matthew Holmes