Tokyo | Florilege (フロリレージュ)
Florilege, another Top 10 French restaurant in Tokyo according to Tabelog. Altough it is not a Michelin-starred restaurant, it was seriously one of the best meals i had in Tokyo these years. "Florilège” means a collection of beautiful poems like flowers. Reopened in the first half of this year, Florilege desires to make the best dining experience for all the diners and leave some new insight through the new menu. The man behind (actually in the kitchen haha),Hiroyasu Kawate, brings 13 thoughts to each dish thus they all have their own stories. It sounds pretty unique and interested me a lot. Finally the day.
Visited: Sep.5th.2015 (Lunch)
Address: B1 SEIZAN Gaien, 2-5-4, Jingumae, Shibuya ward, Tokyo
Hours: 12:00~13:30 (Last order) 18:30~20:00 (Last order)
Florilege is a pretty small restaurants which can only fits 22 diners, with 16 counter seats facing the open-kitchen and a semi-private room of 6. The reservation starts from 2 months in advance and its pretty hard to get in. I visited during lunch as dinner is fully booked for the entire months. And of course, i always recommend the counter seats which can also watch the chefs playing on the food. A 7-course menu is served during lunch (JPY 6,000++), and for dinner, Florilege offers a 11-course menu priced at JPY 11,000++.
The first course was very 'woody', with a burnt smell when it came to the table. Hide underneath the wood was baked baby sweet potato coated with purple sweet potato powder. It was very hot and you need to use the stick to take it out from the large wood plate. Inside its crispy skin was incredible sweet and smooth potato, although there were no additional flavors and seasonings added to it, it has a very lovely milk flavor.
The bread came right after, even the concept of the bread is very different - steamed bread. To me, it tastes like a bland Chinese bun without any significant sweet or savory flavor. But its soft and airy texture was impressive.
Peach is no doubt one of the best produce of the season. It is widely used in desserts but i rarely had it in appetizers. The squid has a very clean taste, not that creamy texture but very tender. The naturally sweet flavor of the peach works very well with the squid, the hazelnut sauce too paired well. On the top, the orange jelly brought more refreshness to the dish, while the Japanese caviar from Miyazaki added a luxerious hint.
Sweetfish(Ayu) is commonly used in Japanese Kaiseki in this season, but in French (Western) cuisine, this was proably the first time. The sweetfish was firstly salted then seared, its body (in the back) was very tender, with quite crsipy skin. While its bone (front), which was deep-fried, was very crunchy, the two made an obvious conflict texture but somehow very sync. In between the two parts of the fish was foie gras - perfectly seared, rich, creamy and flavorful. You can never imagine how delcious it is until you tried by yourself. The soup of Ayu made the simple brown rice risotto delectable, with a zest of yuzu to enhance its aroma and refreshing. Too wonderful to eat.
Another dish strongly infused by the forest. The oyster was hidden underneath a layer of deep-fried kelp and topped with frozen moutain vegetables, garnished by frozen lemon merginue. I was told to have this dish as soon as possible to best taste its multi-textures. A shot of oyster soup was served with the dish, suppose to drink it in the middle.
Cutted into the vegetables and oyster, i immediately felt the crispiness of kelp and tenderness of the oyster. The oyster was seriously large in size, very creamy and full of milky flavor (although there was no milk contents), lovely. The oyster soup works incredible with the dish, very balanced umami and mily flavor, a bit savory. The darker-colored kelp was a bit sour but very crispy, the frozen moutain vegetable was kinda of conflict with the oyster and milk, but super sync indeed.
The main course of the day was a very large chicken to be shared with the other guests in the restaurant. It seems like roasted but actually was slow-cooked.
I was served with the chicken breast (left) and chicken tigh (right). The texture was almost rare but not bloody, neither with any blood smell. It was very tender and a bit chewy, while its skin was very crispy. On the other hand, i think the chicken was a bit fat for my liking, i somehow missed the skin of those quality pecking duck. But anyway, the flavor of the chicken itself was really good.Side by two baby sweet onions, there was a bit 'surprise' inside - omelette. The omelette was quite unique, very milky and smooth. A pinch of salt was served if you found the chicken too bland for you, while the sweet onion sauce works better for my liking.
Most of the waffles (those thin type) we had are served cold, hard and crispy in texture, while this freshly-made waffle made with Okinawa brown sugar was served warm. The waffle itself has a very balanced milk and black sugar flavor. Filled with creamy espuma made of apricot and cream which was super refreshing and works wonderfully with the soft waffle. A slice of candied fig skin was served on the side, crispy but a bit too sweet compare to the waffle.
The dessert chef was preparing our second dessert. The server came and asked my preference for tea, herbal, oolong or grea tea. I picked the herbal tea which was made of lemon grass and mint.
The last but not the least, Mozzarella, a very popular dessert at Florilege. The mozzarella was from Mitani, quite young and tastes very fresh and clean. The creamy lemon sauce (yellow) was sour but brought a refreshing touch to the cheese, salted meringue too works well for a balance. Parsely oil (green) added a touch of green to the dessert. The savory aftertaste from the meringue draws a 'sweet' ending.
(actually savory but the meal was so lovely and sweet.)
Florilege is probably one of the top three French restaurants in my opinion, the entire experience was amazing. Every dish was very unique and delicious, the chef perfectly combined the French and Japanese culinary skills by using the best ingredients in the best combination. It was also very enjoyable to see the chefs making the dishes in front of you. I wish Florilege can be soon featured by the red book!