As the historic building reopens on January 8, 2019 after four years of renovations, we bring you a guide to the foodie highlights inspired by a fusion of new and traditional themes.
French Cuisine: RESTAURANT PRUNIER
Famous for being the first Western-style seafood restaurant in Japan, Prunier has been a purveyor of classic French cuisine since 1934 and is one of Tokyo Kaikan’s most notable dining destinations. It was here some of France’s most notable traditional dishes were first introduced, including bonne femme, featuring sole steamed in white wine. This time, Prunier will be in the capable hands of Chef Hiroyuki Matsumoto, who has previously worked in the kitchen of Michelin-starred restaurants like La Cote D’Or (now Le Relais Bernard Loiseau) in Burgundy, France.
The renewed version of Prunier hides several design features reminiscent of its predecessors, which keen-eyed guests will be able to spot when visiting. Some of these include a wall of stained glass, an accent inspired by the restaurant’s first incarnation, which was famous for using stained glass throughout. Another is the wine cellar at the entrance of the restaurant, which is a nod to the second Prunier that was designed in the 1970s. New design elements offer subtle hints to Prunier’s seafood specialty, including imagery of waves and fish.
Prunier’s main draw, however, is of course its spectacular selection of seafood dishes. On the menu, apart from the famous bonne femme, many mouthwatering dishes await. The amadai urokoyaki is a tilefish delicately grilled with its scales intact, giving a delicious crunchy texture to contrast the tender flesh of the fish, and cooked with a lemon-infused beurre blanc sauce. This is paired with the chef’s seafood choice of the day.
For those with a sweet tooth, the carre chocolat, a decadent black truffle cream sandwich, is highly recommended for dessert. It consists of a chocolate cookie dough cut into squares with a black truffle-fragranced cream in the middle, creating a sumptuous marriage of flavors.
Grill Restaurant: Roast Beef & Grill ROSSINI
As its name implies, one of Roast Beef & Grill ROSSINI’s mainstays is a succulent roast beef that is heated at a low temperature for four hours, then lightly seared to contain its umami. Paired with this is a gravy made by simmering away meat juices for a week, giving it a deep and rich flavor. On the side is a sauce using horseradish to balance it all together.
A fragrant dish that has been a longstanding favorite at Tokyo Kaikan is a foie gras with a demi-glace sauce base and sauce Perigueux, flavored with Madeira and earthy black truffles, placed upon a succulent grilled steak to create a rich and umami-filled delight. It’s a twist on the traditional Tournedos Rossini, a dish named for Italian opera composer Gioachino Antonio Rossini, which combines what is said to be his two favorite foods – meat and foie gras.
Despite the meat in the restaurant’s title, Roast Beef & Grill ROSSINI is vegetarian and vegan-friendly with its newly introduced French veggie course menu. Diners can enjoy satisfying dishes in a rich, colorful display. Dishes include seasonal vegetables served with a sauce made from kombu dashi, a rainbow-colored salad with a selection of vegetables and decorated with edible flowers for an artistic touch. The corn potage is made with soy milk and creates a gentle sweetness that spreads across the tongue with each spoonful. For a playful touch, it is topped with a piece of popcorn instead of a crouton.
Teppanyaki: TOKYO KAIKAN KAI
One of two newly minted dining destinations at Tokyo Kaikan is Tokyo Kaikan Kai — a restaurant that gives diners a chance to enjoy their meal through all five senses. Kai offers an intimate space of 26 seats and two private rooms, but the most lauded location is the counter seats facing the chef. Lucky diners seated here will be privilege to an intimate experience as chefs create masterpieces from scratch up close. With a mix of Japanese and French styles, fresh seafood, juicy wagyu beef, and seasonal vegetables offer flavor sensations carefully chosen by the chef. A sommelier is also on hand to choose a wine to suit both the dish and the guest perfectly.
All-day Dining: ROSSINI TERRACE
Rossini Terrace is one of two new dining options at Tokyo Kaikan and offers a relaxing space with a little bit of everything — it includes a dining area, a lounge, and a bar, making it ideal for all-day dining. Several areas within the space offer views of the Imperial Palace grounds. Traditional dishes such as succulent roast beef, curry, and afternoon tea sets are some of the main draws. The roast beef dish offers a multitude of ways to enjoy it, either served with salad or as a sandwich, or as a donburi (rice bowl).
The curry comes in seven different incarnations, including a new vegetable version. Don’t be fooled though, this isn’t your average curry. It takes three days to make — one day to caramelize the onions, another to create the bouillon, and one more to let it all simmer together to enhance the flavors. On top of this, there are 12 toppings to choose from, including beets and blue cheese. The afternoon tea set boasts a selection of sweets including macarons, white chocolate mousse, and foie gras mousse éclairs, all served with a choice of tea or coffee.
Japanese Cuisine: JAPANESE RESTAURANT YACHIYO
A cozy traditional Japanese atmosphere coupled with the faint scent of burning charcoal and glowing red embers of the traditional sunken hearth greets guests at Yachiyo. The Nijubashi zen set is named for the nearby Nijubashi bridge, which led to Edo Castle, where the Imperial Palace now stands. Images of both the former castle and bridge can be seen in the original serving ware that comes with the meal. The dish itself is a colorful array of items chosen with care and inspired by seasonal changes, many of which have been grilled over a charcoal fire.
Authentic Bar: MAIN BAR
For an authentic classic bar experience in an intimate setting, head to Main Bar. Guests can get close to historic celebrities of the political, economic, and art world by taking a seat at the counter — the chairs from the bar’s previous incarnation have been repaired and reintroduced, allowing guests to touch a piece of history. The low-lit bar offers a relaxing space that serves traditional cocktails like bull shots, standard martinis, modern cocktails and, of course, the famous Kaikan Gin Fizz that General MacArthur was said to love.
Pastry Shop: SWEETS & GIFTS
This sweets boutique serves a selection of new and classic pastries, cookies, and other treats. Classic options include the legendary marron Chantilly, a beloved sweet that has been one Tokyo Kaikan’s most famous offerings for almost 70 years. A two-layered chestnut-filled center is wrapped in pure white cream, creating an appearance of a snow-covered mountain. The newly introduced hyotan cream puff is another treat to look forward to. Hyotan, a type of Japanese gourd, is a traditional symbol from ancient times offering protection from illness. These sweets formed in its image make great gifts for loved ones.
For Tokyo Kaikan contact information, see our Concierge listing.
Read more about Tokyo Kaikan’s history here.