L'effervescence (2016.01)

Based on my previous meals at L'effervescence, i am not surprised that it has favor by so many foodies as one of the best meals they've had, so do I. Arguably, L'effervesce is still my favorite French restaurant in Tokyo so far.

Chef-owner Namae-san always perfectly combines French cooking with a Japanese twist, by using the freshest seasonal produces from Japan. The food is simple but deep, not only on flavor side, but also deliveries a message about nature and the chef. Furthermore, the 100/100 hospitality too ensures a wonderful dining experience. Every time the team surprised me a lot in all senses. There's always a reason to come back.

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We started with sake which was mixed with French wine. This concept won't surprise me if i was eating at a traditional Kaiseki restaurant, but as a French restaurant, it is very interesting. The mixture of French wine brings fruity flavors. A strong start.

Welcome drink

Welcome drink

Olive infused by olive oil with figs

Olive infused by olive oil with figs

Followed by pickled olive from Kagawa prefecture (香川県), seasoned with  Japanese olive oil infused by figs. The first olive gives a very mild discovery of the taste, while you can feel how rich and fruity it is at a second bite. It was indeed aromatic and creamy.

Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche

Bread, whipped tofu spread with Olive oil

The classical amuse at L'effervescence always consists of a seasonal consomme, side with liquid-hydrogened ice. On the left hand side, a shot glass with layers of cauliflower, sherry vinegar jelly, fresh botan shrimp and sea urchin on the top. Very sync combination to awaken the palates.

 L'effervescence serves only one kind of bread, the supplier is the NO.1 bakery in Osaka, Le Sucre Cœur (ル・シュクレ・クール). As a hard bread lover, i really love this freshly-toasted loaf which has a crunchy skin and soft center.

While the highlight was definitely the whipped tofu spread, as always. This is my favorite spread ever, i can even eat it as a snack. It was made of tofu branded from a traditional tofu shop 'Tsuki no Shizuku (月の雫)' in Chiba. The texture was so incredibly creamy, but tastes light like yogurt. 

Just like the Apple pie #22 ~

Just like the Apple pie #22 ~

One of the most famous creations of Chef Namae is no doubt the apple pie without apple. The filling  was based on the combination of the seasonal ingredients, Chef Namae named different pies by sequenced numbers. This was the 22nd version - with monkfish liver, kumquat, pumpkin and bay leaf. Wonderfully buttery and fluffy pastry with creamily umami filling. Enticing.

L’ombre~ Aori-ika ‘tagliatelle’ and fermented kohlrabi ‘tagliolini’

L’ombre~ Aori-ika ‘tagliatelle’ and fermented kohlrabi ‘tagliolini’

We were very lucky to be the first group of guest to try Chef Namae's new dish. The Aori-ika (cuttlefish) was fine-sliced into a tagliatelle shape and mixed with fermented kohlrabi 'tagliolini', the contrast of creamy, chewy texture of Ika and crispy of kohlrabi and fresh brussel sprouts was memorable. It was beautifully plated with a bed of black oil sauce which gives a lovely fragrance and savory taste.

Very very cold day~ Seared Shirako, mushroom & chrysanthemum soup

Very very cold day~ Seared Shirako, mushroom & chrysanthemum soup

Thanks to the lovely team, we got a treat from Namae-san, an extra dish of lightly-seared Shirako (cod's milt) with Mukago baby potatoes, lotus root, and Kabosu in a mushroom & chrysanthemum soup base

I had a similar dish without soup base at L'effervescence during my first visit in 2014 winter. And i think this one works much better for my liking. The shirako with a cirspy outer-layer and incredibley creamy and soft inside still impressed me a lot. The creamy and deep soup base again made it up. One of our favorite dishes of the night.

A fixed point ~ 4 hours cooked Tokyo turnip, parsley, brioche

A fixed point ~ 4 hours cooked Tokyo turnip, parsley, brioche

As how it is called, this dish is served at L'effervescence everyday, every meal, all the time... A meal is incomplete without 'a fixed point'. Although the turnip has been cooked for 4 hours,it was still so crunchy and juicy. The sweetness and water contents changes with season. The turnip was finished with butter to give it a mild aroma and flavor, with some brioche and ham to enhance both the flavor and texture.

Like dead leaves ~ Sauteed Nodoguro and Kabosu sabayon, burdock puree

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Next dish was sauteed Nodoguro (black throat sea perch) topped with burdock puree and lily bulb, finish with Kabosu sabayon. This dish came with a mildly burnt fragrance of cavolo nero, or black cabbage (from kale family). The contract texture of crispy cavolo nero and tender Nodoguro flesh as well as creamy puree was lovely.

Contrast ~ Crackling Jerusalem artichoke, smoked mussels, Comte cheese sauce

Contrast ~ Crackling Jerusalem artichoke, smoked mussels, Comte cheese sauce

Next dish consists only three ingredients: mussel, cheese and artichoke. Looks very simple and quite complex. The crispy part was deep-fried artichoke, inside was mashed smoked mussels - similar to the texture of mashed potato while the lovely smoky aroma and umami flavor made it up. The combination of creamy Comte cheese and artichoke sauce was unexpectly good. Impressive contrast - crispy and creamy, woody and oceanic.

Comfort zone ~ Tiny chawanmushi, pheasant and Shijimi consomme, Umeboshi

Comfort zone ~ Tiny chawanmushi, pheasant and Shijimi consomme, Umeboshi

Before having the main course, we were served with a tiny cup of chawanmushi cooked with pheasant and Shijimi (freshwater clam) consomme. The egg custard was smooth, silky and delicious. While the most interesting part was the Umeboshi (dried plum) on the edge of the spoon, the sour and savory flavor was surprisingly good with the chawanmushi. Nicely cleanse our palate and ready for the main course!

Knife selection for the main dish.

Knife selection for the main dish.

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Before serving the Chawanmushi, Zac double-checked with us whether we want to add on truffle for our main course. As we are going to have the fowl, chef recommended white truffle for pairing, which comes with additional 5000 JPY and Chef would come to our table for shaving the truffle. We love truffles, yes, please.

Winter delight ~ Char-grilled Guinea fowl, sauteed Daikon & jus, gapper clam (white truffle + JPY 5000)

Winter delight ~ Char-grilled Guinea fowl, sauteed Daikon & jus, gapper clam (white truffle + JPY 5000)

The fowl was  from northern part of Japan, normally it doesn't like cold wheather, thus the farmer uses the heat from natural hot spring water to raised them up. The fowl itself lives on pest insects which is very good to farm (Namae-san really loves everything eco-friendly). Two parts of the fowl were served in our dish: the softer breast and slightly bouncy legs. I loved both which have a crispy skin and inside were both succulent and flavorful. The gapper clam was lightly boiled in hot water which was crunchy and umami. Another impressive part was the daikon (radish) cooked with Ama-zake. Ama-zaka is a fermented glutinous rice wine which is sweet and full of bacterias beneficial to the stomach.Daikon itself was perfecly cooked, incredibly smooth, juicy with a mildly sweetness. The Amazake gives it more sweet flavor but not overwhelming. While we actually think it would be much better if the white truffle flavor could be slightly stronger.

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East & West ~ Cheese or Vegetable

East & West ~ Cheese or Vegetable

Next is cheese course normally, while as some people doesn't like cheese, L'effervesence offers an althernative choice - salad. Both my partner and i are not a big fan of cheese, so we picked the salad. It was made of 37 kinds of vegeables and leaves. As it was winter, there were more root vegeables in the vegetable plate compare to other seasons. Very fresh leaves and vegetables cooked in different ways, with different textures. The Mikan (Japanese mandarin) vinegerette dressing was very light and refreshing.

It snows ~ Pear compote, blue cheese cake, Wasanbon ice-cream, Amazake yogurt mousse, lime mergingue, sake snow

It snows ~ Pear compote, blue cheese cake, Wasanbon ice-cream, Amazake yogurt mousse, lime mergingue, sake snow

Despite its plain looking, this dessert was one of the most impressive sweet i recently had. The pear compote was really smooth, juicy and naturally sweet; the Wasanbon (Japanese brown sugar) ice cream gives more mild sweetness and iced texture;  the mousse was light and smooth, made of Amazake yogurt fermented by Chef Namae-san; the lime merginue gives a crispy texture and refreshing flavor. Nowadays a lot of restaurants in Japan loves to make desserts with a savory taste as well, while very few makes incredibly good ones. The addition of blue cheese to this plate of goodness really surprised me, mildly salty flavor, fresh and light...simply a dish of harmony. It really snows.

Paradise field ~ Silver berry ice-cream, cremet d’anjou, yacon, lemongrass

Paradise field ~ Silver berry ice-cream, cremet d’anjou, yacon, lemongrass

Final dessert is another combination of cheese and sweets. Cremet d'anjou is made with fresh soft cheese is a speciality of  Anjou in France. The coeur or "heart" is moulded in a special heart-shaped porcelain dish that is perforated with holes to drain off the excess moisture of the cheese. This simple dessert is typically served with seasonal fruit and a fruit purée. Here the pairing silver berry ice cream was unique, as it is quite hard to find this berry in Japan. It tastes like peach with a citrus hint. Dried yacón gives a crunchy texture and subtle sweetness to the dish, with a lemongrass twist for refreshing.

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Matcha

Matcha

Finally freshly whisked Matcha prepared by Maitre D’Hotel Zac. Last time i have two guests from Singapore thus my guests have the matcha made by Zac, mine was made by Japanese staff from the kitchen. I just think it is very unique to see a non-Japanese making traditonal matcha, and the outcome was very satisfying. Much much better than the matcha from Ryugin in Roppongi, which tastes like water in comprison.

Petit Fours

Petit Fours

‘World Peace’

‘World Peace’

Lastly a shot of homemade nuts milk was served to balance the bitterness of matcha, that's why it is called 'world peace'. Really loved the milk. creamy and light, with a sweet flavor from the aromatic vanilla.

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Too much good things to share with all of you at L'effervescence, while at the same time a bit speechless because i don't know where to start with...Just loved everything there and quite hard to put them into words. Best to check it out by yourself.


Date: Jan.12.2016 (Dinner)

Previous Visits: Oct.2015 (Lunch Full) / Dec.2014 (Lunch Short)

Address: 2-26-4 Nishi-Azabu, Minato, Tokyo 東京都港区西麻布2-26-4

Hours: 12:00~16:00, 18:00~23:30, Closed on Sundays and Mondays

Cost: Lunch JPY 10,000~; Dinner 18,000~

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