In real estate only three things matter; location, location, location. In Tokyo this is evidently true:
Why else would financially conservative banks build offices near the Imperial palace? Or fast-fashion stores pay rent at Omotesando prices.
Deny it if you will but, we are all secretly location snobs; If people say they live “Near Shibuya”, do they mean upscale Daikanyama or seedy Shinsen? If they say they work in Azabu, do they mean quiet Higashi or bustling Juban?
When it comes to high-end bars and restaurants, nothing could be more important for a good image. Many fine restaurants are located in fashionable Aoyama, but not many places can boast an address next door to Prada’s Herzog and de Meuron-designed flagship boutique. Mosaique, a new restaurant-bar, may well have the best spot in the city. The French inspired eatery is a collaboration between three seasoned restaurateurs and has only been open for a couple of months — but if a recent visit on a busy Friday night proves anything, the secret is well and truly out.
Lively conversation levels and the exuberant staff, who trained with Joël Robuchon, prove this is not a typical strait-laced Japanese restaurant. The cuisine is clearly aiming high with Hokkaido venison, grilled tuna cheek and sautéed sea bass gracing the menu. If anything, the menu is too long and could probably do with simplifying — something that will no doubt develop as the restaurant concept matures. An expansive drinks list features reds and whites plucked from Europe’s best vineyards and even has a rare French whisky. Hungry diners will be glad to hear food portions are served in international sizes too.
The gold-walled dining room on the fourth floor is clearly designed to impress, with the circular room boasting both stunning views of the city and a window into the hectic kitchen giving equal weight to the cooking process and the awe inspiring architecture outside. The bar next door is casual enough to stop by for just a drink and fancy enough to impress.
If you are struggling to make a decision on what to eat and want to try the best the chefs can muster, ask the waiter for the current specials, the finite dishes change almost weekly, making for a pleasant surprise for those who like to eat out regularly.
For chilly January, a selection of wild game served as rich inspiration for the chefs; for February moist duck and foie gras made an appearance. The choice of seafood terrine — sorry seafood “Mosaic”, is recommended, served with salad and a soft poached egg instead of sauce, a dish they should definitely stay on the main menu (most starters are ¥1,600-¥2,500). Mains are equally well thought out, and the Japanese red snapper in butter sauce with root vegetables was simply presented and cooked to perfection and a wine-braised steak, rendered incredibly soft by six hours in the oven will take some beating (mains ¥2,350-¥3,580). Choosing the right wine is always a challenge, especially with so many choices, but Parisian sommelier Xavier was thankfully on hand, and yes — it is perfectly fine to ask for advice. For the budget-conscious, Xavier remarked that his wine selection contains some “Not very famous, but very high quality wines.”
Desserts were rustic and simple, a crème brule (¥1,380) served in a shallow dish and the apple pie served with a dollop of sour cream, thankfully no ice cream in sight.
With a roof top drinks terrace, (set to open next month) and a patio to boot, Mosaique may turn out to be your next favorite restaurant. So when people ask where you dine out, what are you going to say?
4F The Jewels of Aoyama
Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0062