Narisawa, first meal of Japan, #1 restaurant in Asia on Pellegrino List, 2 Michelin Stars
Let’s start with an apertif. How about some champagne with cherry blossoms inside. Tasted like lavender and honey, most unexpected French Japanese fusion cocktail. Our taste buds were primed for action.
This was followed by several amuse bouche, one being a multi layer cracker with aspergillus mold powder. Then a dish of a tempura’ed baby fish (ayu) that had an intensely interesting bitter taste. It looked like it was still swimming on the plate in a game of freeze tag.
Then to prepare your mouth for the forest floor you are about to eat, a shot of birch sap, served inside a burrowed piece of soaking wood, like an inverted pencil. Then an assortment of tempura burdock root with ground up matcha green tea, bitterly decadent.
This was immediately followed by a fermented firefly squid on a buckwheat cracker. Truly an acquired taste, I had to eat Erika’s piece as it was way too fishy for her, like a fermented cod paste flavor.
Followed by langoustine, topped with shrimp cooked with pea tendrils. Excellently paired with some ’99, reduced nose white Bordeaux. I was embarrassingly sucking the brains out of the langostine as the couples around us stared in horror.
Then they cook seaweed bread at your table that you eat with a deep fried clam with a clam and bruchetta like concoction. Served with both white Burgundy for the fried clam and red Burgundy for the bruschetta clam. I may be mixing the order of all the wines as I was completely tossed at this point from the cherry blossom apertif. I had to do jumping jacks in the bathroom to wake up from my intoxicated stupor later down the menu.
Followed by 1987 aged sake that almost tasted like brandy or port to pair with some tiger fugu, yes the poisonous one. Luckily we’re still barely alive at 430am to write about it. It tasted like chicken fused with shrimp as far as texture and flavor profile go.
Next up chasu pork with seared crispy pork skin with foraged Japanese veggies with roasted wild sweet onion shoot. The onion and pork fat reduction had me scraping the bowl with my spoon for every last drop. I went into a state of mental flow as I devoured the sauce before I looked up and remembered where I was. Erika didn’t think this measured up to traditional Mexican carnitas. She went on about this to the maitre’d, and how Rene Redzepi from Noma gave a lecture in Mexico City of how al pastor saved his restaurant.
I missed a picture of some rare shabu style shimane beef, lightly cooked in a reduction of its own fat, with some sugar to caramelize the meat, which then gives the fat broth a sweet taste, omfg… Coated the inside of my mouth with carnivorous debauchery. Strange how this was the plainest looking dish, so much so that I forgot to take a picture of it, but whose flavor I remember the most vividly.
Followed by gnomefish with shallots, perfectly seared. Tastes almost like turbot or skate, very meaty/ steak-like fish. We’ve been noticing certain fish fillets being paired with red burgundy lately even in LA.
Last up, A5 Kobe covered in ash and seared traditionally over coals. The quality was high, cooked more in a European fashion. A ballsy departure from serving the typical super marblized A5 Kobe cut of the rib cap that I’ve had at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak or at Providence, rather cooked the roast piece, almost sous vid like quality of the leaner meat. Erika wasn’t too impressed, thought it was too dry and flavorless.
After all this protein, the sight of a halved grapefruit was welcome. No matter how stuffed we were, this gelato-like creation of purreed grapefruit mixed with little candied pieces of yuzu rinds and Japanese ice cream, with table side shaken cocktail of poured-over liquid essence of grapefruit refreshed like some goddamn Mentos. The sour flavor was the underlying theme, but then you’d get a little piece of candied yuzu for a burst of sweetness.
Then a jungle cart of sweets came out of assorted matcha green tea jelly pops, more matcha debaucha followed with a gummy drop covered in matcha powder. Then a gummy lychee like almost ginko nut wrapped in cherry blossom leaf.
I could not keep track of all the wine pairings, but I love the French Japanese fusion theme, this was like the more Japanese version of Providence in LA, where as Providence has more of a French leaning influence imho. Some of the local experimental sake styled wines were super floral and enlightening as I never knew such a variety existed among sake, from sancere-like floral and mineral sake, to aged port-like sake, we definitely learned something new to lust over.