by Deborah Im

Can a three Michelin star-rated chef live up to his reputation in the city with the most Michelin stars in the world? Pierre Gagnaire is certainly trying. His eponymous restaurant in Paris has consistently been awarded three Michelin stars since 1998 for its innovative, exquisitely executed contemporary French cuisine. Adding to his collection of restaurants scattered all over the globe, on March 19 Gagnaire opened his eighth restaurant on the 36th floor of the ANA InterContinental hotel in Akasaka. Gagnaire’s sole Tokyo locale offers sweeping views of the city and is simply yet tastefully decorated in muted tones. But to be honest, I don’t much remember the décor or the views. What I remember is the food, which I suspect is exactly what Gagnaire wants.

A plate of delightful amuse-bouche arrived and successfully amused my bouche. A marshmallow topped with shallot confit was airy and sweet, but with a surprising peppery finish. The tiny ginger sablee was buttery and crumbly, with a kick from the fresh ginger. A slice of dried beet reminded me of Fruit Roll-Ups consumed as a child. And a tiny spinach ‘bread’ with lime cream and yogurt was earthy and savory. I thought I detected some cornmeal, but my server insisted spinach was the only ‘grain’ used in the bread.

My main course, a grilled Japanese beef fillet in a black pepper and red wine sauce, was amazingly tender—my knife cut through the beef as easily as it would through butter. It was easily one of the most tender pieces of steak I’ve ever had, without being overly marbled with fat. It was accompanied by potato cooked in citrus and asparagus ice cream with asparagus spears. The asparagus ice cream tasted surprisingly, delightfully like asparagus. The only dish I disliked was a beef tartare, which was served wrapped around avocado puree in a consomme jelly. Regretfully, it tasted overwhelmingly like baby food.

Desserts included a milk flavored panna cotta topped with vanilla sabayon and lemon sorbet, a delicious strawberry and hojicha sponge cake on a strawberry sauce, and a decadent dark chocolate cake. But if your sweet tooth still isn’t satisfied, the plate of petit fours served with your coffee will surely do the trick. Chef Gagnaire uses only locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, and changes his menu seasonally. Lunch courses start at ¥6,000, and two dinner courses are offered at ¥18,000 and ¥23,000. From Tuesday through Friday, an ‘express gourmet’ lunch is also available for ¥3,800.

Open Tue–Sun for lunch (11am–2pm)
and dinner (6-9pm)
1-12-33 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Tel: 03-3505-1111


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