To be honest, i never expected too much on Chinese food even in Tokyo, and like many people do, my foodie trips to Japan are mostly pack of sushi, Kaiseki, and Western cuisines. However, a Chinese restaurant called Furuta walked into my eyes since last year. As a pure Chinese, i was so attracted by the ways that Japanese Chef Furuta (古田) served Chinese food. Extremely simple and clean, top quality ingredients, with an ultimate philosophy which is hard to catch up by most Chinese chefs. I finally made a visit to Furuta, it was totally mind-blowing.
Just a short introduction of Chef Furuta in case you don't know him. Chef Furuta is a famous Chinese chef who also owns the legendary Chinese restaurant Kaiketei 開化亭 (ranked No.3 in Gifu on Tabelog)in Gifu, Japan. In Dec.2014, he moved to Tokyo to open this Chinese restaurant Furuta, and his big son took over Kaiketei at the same time. Furuta's second son Satoshi Furuta is also a well-known chef who owns the French restaurant Satoshi.F (ranked No.2 in Gifu on Tabelog), which will re-located to Tokyo by the end of 2016 and renamed 'CHIUnE'. What an extraordinary family!
Chef Furuta learnt Chinese cooking by himself, he opened Kaiketei when he was 31. From an unknown small restaurant to the most famous Chinese restaurant in Gifu, Furuta in some ways changed Japanese's thoughts on Chinese food. By using the best Chinese elements accompanied by the best seasonal produces in Japan, the entire meal was smooth and amazing even beyond my expectation.
The space at Furuta is small but very bright and clean. The restaurant has only 8 seats at the counter, here, diners are able to watch Chef Furuta freshly-cooks all the dishes by himself with only one pan. In terms of Chinese food, it was a really unique dining experience.
Besides the ultimate philosophy, Furuta is also famous for their expensive price tags. The price of set menus range from 30k, 50k, 70k and 100k. The differences between different menu are mostly the amount of dishes and the potion size, ingredients are merely affects. We had mid-range 50k menu includes 9 dishes, a choice of a rice dish and a dessert.
1. Truffle and Egg
The first dish was a combination of Japanese steamed rice 'iimushi' and topped scrambled eggs with shaved white truffle. Never thought of this creation in Chinese cooking but it was luscious. The sauce was made of chicken stock seasoned with some soy and sugar which was really sync with the rest part, truffle and egg are always good friends.
Next was deep-fried natural unagi from Shizuoka, impressive crunchy texture with a succulent white flesh in the center. The wok-fried pepper wisely gives a bit spicy flavors to lift the tastes of the entire dish. Another awesome dish.
Followed by a soup dish of double-braised Japanese turtle with shark fin and winter melon, indeed umami and elegant as it looks. The portion of ginger was right to point to balance the possible stinky taste of the turtle. I loved this soup which deliciously warmed me up.
One of the most signature dishes at Furuta is the cold vermicelli. Vermicelli is usually served with a soup base or sauces because it is very hard to make a dry vermicelli dish tasty and impressive. Chef Furuta simply seasoned this dish with a pinch of white pepper and some scallions, finished with a spoonful Beluga caviar to give a hint of oceanic savory taste. Despite the slightly larger portion than my expectation, the entire dish was definitely worth another visit.
A fine Chinese meal is imcomplete without abalone and shark fin. Next to arrive was braised 31 head dried abalone served with duck web and superior stock of abalone. The sauce was very different from what i had before, it was less heavy compare to the traditional abalone sauce, but very natural and real in tastes.
The crab spring roll was one of my favorite dishes of the meal. It was much larger than any spring rolls i had before, it was as large as a western wrap with chalk full of juicy Etizen crab and their delicious miso. The roll skin itself was crunchy like crackers. Despite the large size, it was still perfectly deep-fried and not oily at all, every bite was so enjoyable.
Chef Furuta then started to pan-fry the shark fin with Shanghainese crab, it was another indulgence dish but the portion was so large. I finished it anyway because it was so good, however because of the previous soup dish and this kinda-soup dish, i was almost full after the shark fin.
Next was one of the most famous dishes, also one of my favorite dishes at Furuta. The abalone was slow pan-fried and bedded with abalone's liver sauce (darker color) and a vegetable sauce mixed with milk (green color). The abalone was perfectly cooked, simple but deep in tastes, with a soft rubbery textuer. A freshly-steamed homemade bun was served on the side to swipe up the delicious sauce, it was pillow-soft and has a mild milk flavor. Perfect to mopping up the delicious liver sauce.
Last dish before the rice dishes to arrive was a hot pot of the Japanese kamo (duck) Kokusan, a top species in Japan. The breast, liver, thigh and a duck meat ball were served, all perfectly cooked, the succulent duck meat matches so well with the creamily sweet Shimonita Japanese leek. The soup was as good as the previous soup dishes, however i was so full at this point because of the large portion of soup content throughout the meal.
Even we were already packed, we still have more room (or even a small corner) for the ultimate rice and noodle dishes menu. We were asked to choose anything we like on the menu, or any special request that chef Furuta can try to assistant. On the menu you can find: Sichuan Dandan noodle, Sichuan cold noodles, pan-fried Shanghainese noodles with leek, clear soup noodles, egg fired rice, rice crisps in soup, Mapo tofu with white rice, sour and hot soup noodles, and seasonal soba noodles.
The signature mapo tofu is definitely something i won't miss from the menu. I really enjoyed the silky tofu with deep flavors of the spicy sauces, which all together work so well with the pearl white rice. Another recommendation from chef Furuta was the clear soup noodle, which was simple but nicely wrapped up the meal..
All the guests at the counter were talking about the big portion of the meal, and no matter how stuffed you are, you will never walk out a restaurant without having the dessert. What normally served as a dessert in a Chinese restaurant in Japan is almond tofu (actually a pudding made of almond milk and vanilla), Furuta uses bird nest as a topping to match the incredibly silky and delicious pudding. Wonderfull ending.
Unlike most Chinese food i had in the past 23 years, Furuta totally walked out of that frame, i was so astonished by his top culinary skills. Each dishes was freshly cooked by Chef Furuta using only one wok pan in front of the 8 seat counter, it was a really unique experience in terms of Chinese food. And most importantly, the dishes were nothing but marvellous.
The only issue i encountered were the large portion of the meal, i haven't had such a stuffed meal in a long while. Even so, I cannot wait to visit Furuta again.
Hours: 17:00～22:30(L.O.20:30), Closed on Sundays and Mondays