Exquisite French Fare Awaits in the Basement of Hoshinoya Tokyo

In the heart of Tokyo’s Otemachi is the chiyoda district’s best kept secret

At the basement floor of Hoshinoya Tokyo in Otemachi, Chiyoda, is a dinner-only, 10-table restaurant that caters exclusively to guests of the luxurious ryokan-style hotel. It s a sublime dining experience. A cavernous entrance hall with rustic, earthen walls and dramatic rock centrepiece leads to a network of tatami-matted private rooms. In this serene, elegant setting, the exquisite food conceptualised by award-winning Executive Chef Noriyuki Hamada takes the spotlight.

The seasonal menu, priced at ¥18,000 (RM663) per person, is nature-inspired French cuisine featuring local produce sourced from all over Japan, with a particular focus on fish. Depending on the dish, fish is either the main event or subtly worked in. Each course is at once a study in contrasts and a lesson in harmony, displayed in the play on textures and medley of flavours. Beautiful in composition and meticulously assembled, every plate is a work of culinary art.

The chef’s signature Five Flavours of Delight appetiser sets the tone for the stunning nine-course meal. Five bite-sized morsels — Japanese barracuda and daikon roll, mushroom soup pop, saury risotto croquette with chrysanthemum leaf powder, tuna with hot green pepper sauce, and weatherfish and pumpkin cream mont-blanc — representing the five flavours (sour, salty, bitter, spicy and sweet) are served on individually chilled or heated stones.

The display of skill and creativity continues with a course resembling a miniature cake, made with paper-thin apple slices encasing hairy crab filling and topped with micro edible flowers on a bed of powdered hairy crab roe. This was almost too beautiful to eat — as was the horse mackerel tartare layered with tart tomato puree and chewy buckwheat grains, finished with five types of tiny wild mushrooms.

The pièce de résistance, a meunière style rough-skin sole, was served with a rich and savoury poultry sauce and a béarnaise sauce made using pickled cherry blossom leaves, which afforded a pleasant, subtle floral note to the dish. It was accompanied with vinaigrette-marinated cabbage with seaweed, kumquat puree, and sautéed wild rice stems. This beautiful dish — nay, this whole dinner — showcased Chef Hamada’s mastery in marrying flavours and ingredients to create dishes of nuance and depth.

Hishinoya Tokyo

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