Known as a dining powerhouse in the States, the LA-based restaurant franchise has chosen Tokyo for its first overseas location.
By Sami Kawahara
Tucked away in the back streets of Shibuya, Patina Tokyo is one of two flagship restaurants within the Patina Restaurant Group, a company that has managed more than 50 establishments throughout the United States.
Internationally renowned Executive Chef and Founder Joachim Splichal has established himself as a master of French-inspired California cuisine, demonstrating his ability to balance textures and flavors in the design and creativity of each dish.
Curious to try it out for ourselves, we dined at the restaurant that made its Tokyo debut in December 2013.
The Dining Experience
A modern, open space with eclectic international design first caught our eye as we walked in, from the animal print–inspired Spanish furniture to the sleek Finnish designer dishware. We arrived at a quiet time on a national holiday, and we were seated at a spot set in dim lighting, overlooking the rest of the white-linened tables. Greeted by Patina’s multilingual staff, we were given our menus, and the choice of a four or five-course tasting menu, or ordering a la carte.
We went for the four-course menu, but wished that Patina Tokyo had an option for seconds and more, as the progression of Winter Tartare of Scallops with Truffles appetizer, the Truffle Risotto hot appetizer, and the Slow Poached Snapper entree was too good to share. With three sommeliers onsite, we were able to taste wine that complemented the rich flavors of the risotto and the light texture of the fish.
The Head Chef—Hitoshi Sugiura from Osaka—came out to explain each dish, helping us feel the true spirit and energy put into the preparation of our meal. On a quick tour around the restaurant before dessert, we had chance to see the special Chef’s Table for six that lets guests watch the chefs prepare their meals in an intimate setting for private events or gōkon (group dates for singles in Japan), according to General Manager Paul Snyder.
A large wine storage case outside the Chef’s Table serves as a partition between the bar and restaurant area, making for an easy transition between dinner and post-dinner cocktails.
As we headed back to the table for dessert, we passed by the pâtissiers who specially prepare each dessert at Patina. The Chocolate Banana Parfait features Patina’s homemade chocolate that is also available to take home, and the Apple en Croute delivered a nice balance of sweetness, finished with an unexpected layer of apple celery gelato at the bottom.
With a lunch menu that changes weekly and a dinner menu that changes seasonally, Patina’s staff takes care to ensure that ingredients are both local and seasonal.
The Patina Bar
After enjoying all four courses, we moved on to our nightcap at the chic marble bar. Signature cocktails are made from Patina’s quality whisky collection and other top shelf liquors, and prepared with panache. Mixologists from the restaurant’s LA locations were flown out to Japan where they prepared Tokyo’s bartenders to ensure consistent quality in each cocktail, while still nurturing local creativity. The “Shibuya Eastside,” consisting of gin, shiso tincture, and other unique ingredients was one of the many cocktails that exhibit Patina’s originality.
Patina Tokyo lives up to its fine dining reputation by finding a middle ground between Western and Japanese cuisine, and tactful service on behalf of the well-trained servers, specialty chefs, pâtissiers, and mixologists.