Returning for its tenth anniversary this autumn, France Restaurant Week is a popular nationwide event celebrating some of the country’s most accomplished chefs as they cook up exquisite French gastronomy while incorporating fresh local ingredients. Attracting thousands of visitors annually, the event is a terrific opportunity for customers to enjoy expansive course meals at reasonable prices (the set menus, both lunch and dinner, cost ¥2,500, ¥5,000 or ¥8,000 depending on the restaurant and some include a drink) for a limited time only.

This year, the festivities kick off on September 25 with some 540 participating restaurants from Hokkaido to Okinawa. Lasting for 20 days until October 14, this is the perfect way to kick off the shokuyoku no aki (appetite of autumn) season in Japan. 

Chef spotlight

As with past years, 15 “focus chefs” have been selected as part of a new exciting generation of culinary experts in French cuisine. Among them is Izumi Tanaka, who cut her teeth in the industry working at Shu Koju in Yokohama and then Restaurant Michael Nakajima in Kamakura for eight years in total before flying out to France where she found employment at a Michelin star restaurant while also helping out at a butcher’s shop for free on weekends. 

After spending six months backpacking along the Silk Road, Tanaka returned to Japan in 2018 and opened Le temps moelleux in September of that year. Located in the basement of a multi-tenant building in Akasaka, it’s an elegant yet cozy space decorated all in white that’s ideal for small groups and couples. The show plates, made by Tanaka’s mother, add to the charm of the place. 

Delectable culinary creations

The omakase (chef’s choice) set menu (chosen by the chef) changes on a monthly basis. For France Restaurant Week, Tanaka is going to provide customers with an extraordinary course that will include an amuse-bouche, appetizer, meat dish and dessert before finishing things off with some tea or coffee and a snack.

The highlight is arguably her sumptuous and rather large bouillabaisse (a traditional Provencal fish stew from Marseille) for which each of the seafood items – prawns, mussels and red snapper — are all meticulously prepared separately before being served cold together as part of the soup. A delectable creation, each mouthful is simply divine. 

For a full list of restaurants participating in France Restaurant Week and bookings, see here. All restaurants participating in France Restaurant Week have put in Covid-19 countermeasures to ensure guests feel as safe as possible.