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.