Takazawa is one of the most mysterious restaurants in Tokyo. Located in a hidden building in a back line in Akasaka-Mitsuke, Takazawa is also one of the hardest table to book in town. It is also listed by Asia's 50 Best Restaurants for continuously years.
The space in Takazawa was much smaller than i thought - the restaurant can only hold 3 groups at maximum of 10 guests each evening (actually 3 tables for 6 people during my visit), with chef-owner Yoshiaki Takazawa standing behind his laboratory stage, where all the magic happens every night. Chef Yoshiaki Takazawa working pretty much on his own, by using the best seasonal ingredients that cleverly and playfully fuse Japanese and French culinary ideas.
Oh no, the first person we met was a lovely lady with pretty and warm smile, greeted us and served us, who is chef's wife Akiko. Akiko speaks impeccable English and introduce all the dishes very detailedly, she also shared a lot of their lovely daily life with us.
We were quite lucky to be there by the end of 2015, because it was Takazawa's 10 year anniversary. To celebrate the restaurant's birthday, we received a very unique gift which could served us for the rest of the meal, and keep it as a souvenir. It is a paired of well-designed chopsticks produced by a famous Japanese chopstick producer, this chopstick is only for Takazawa.
There was only one menu at Takazawa priced at JPY 30,000 for 10 dishes, exclusive 3 amuses and bread.
Then we were served the bread and 'butter'. Firstly, we were told to drink the spring water in the tube. This reminds me of the spring water i had in 2* Narisawa, but Takazawa impressed me a lot over. Different from what i expected, it has a mild savory taste rather than sweet. Akiko told us that was hot spring water from the deep ocean, that's why it has a umami hint.
Move on to the bread, it is made in house and was perfect for my liking - a gold crispy outside and a fluffy, a bit chewy center. Instead of serving butter or any kind of diary spreads, Takazawa serves a cute jar of rillettes made from premium Agu pork from Okinawa. The pork is slow cooked and nicely shredded, it was melt-in-mouth tenderness and the rich fats of the pork itself was absolutely delicious.
The first dish of the meal is chef Takazawa’s ever famous Ratatouille. It has been on the menu since the restaurant opened in 2005. Consists of 15 kinds of vegetables, chef Takazaka cooked each kind of vegetable individually in different ways, and combined into a colorful masaic with tomato jelly. A black bean (Kyoto) and some crystal salt (Sado island) are served on the edge of the spoon. Enjoy this dish with one bite :)
Followed by a pretty glass of vegetable parfait made of Gazpacho, whipped parmesan cream, basil puree, caviar and a seaweed crisp. Scope from the bottom to top, the refreshing flavor of cold tomato soup wonderfully balanced whipped parmesan cream, the basil puree too gives a refreshing taste. The best part of this dish is no doubt the whipped parmesan, clean but so fresh and delcious - one of our best dishes of the meal.
Next dish is my favorite seasonal fish, buri sashimi, paired with four kinds of radish, finish with powered Yuzu juice. It is a pretty creative and delicious dish that satisfied us from all senses, it has an aromatic yuzu flavor, the flesh was fresh and rich in oils, four kinds of radish brings some crispiness to the dish.
Another highlight of the night is this 'mushroomy' dish, it is a combination i never thought before. Sliced brown mushroom that only produces in Tokachi in Hokkaido, on the top is mushroom ice cream and shredded black truffle and dried beetroot flakes. The mushroom ice cream has a deep mushroom flavor and pairs the mildly sweet fresh mushroom very well, black truffle wonderfully brings more fragrance and enhance the flavor of the whole dish.
I was surprised when i saw a fried egg on a hot stone when it came to the table, few seconds later chef Takazawa came with a large white truffle in his hand, he shaved some on top of the egg and told us it is always the best combination.
The egg is sourced from Yamanashi (山形) and has a wonderful running yolk, the creamy and umami egg yolk was incredible with white truffle. However, the salt on the bottom was quite uneven, which creates an over-salty outcome.
As how it is called, featured a 'candle' a cover in the center. Open the lids you will find there's something in it - it is not a simple creme brulee, but a foie gras creme brulee. The candle is actually made of apple jam, which is a very classcial pairing of foie gras.
The fish dish is smoked anago and gobo, opened the cover and the lovely smoky flavor spread over the whole table, with a mixture of oceanic aroma. Akiko told us this special kind of anago is only caught in Hakodate in Hokkaido, by the only fishman, who is an expert in testing anago. He can tell whether the fish is good or not by inserting a needle into the eel's body, and taste the needle.
For the meat dish, my partner had the Japanese deer sukiyaki, but he said he expected it to be medium cooked but it is fully cooked, thus a bit dry in texture. While the white truffle pairs well with the flavor of the meat. As i don't eat red meat, i had a grilled Kinki fish dish, side with grilled Kinki's head.
The flesh was moist and tender. Citrus sauce with a twist of Japanese yuzu pepper gives a spicy but refreshing flavor to the oceanic flavor. Kinki's liver is too served together with the fish, loved its bursted deep flavor. On the side, the fish head is incredibly crispy and delcious. My partner tried some of my Kinki dish and he said it is wonderful.
Named 'blue cheese', but actually a slice of white chocolate cheese cake made of cream cheese from Hokkaido with a pistachio twist. It is creamy but suprisingly light.
Besides the colorful mosaic of ever-famous ratatouille, we had another mosaic made of sweet potato. In the front, the football-shaped mosaic was made of five kinds of sweet potato with black sesame, it is smooth and sweet. The cirpsy deep-fried sweet potato with sweet potato ice-cream was also very delicous. I love sweet potato and i love this sweet ending.
Matcha cookies in a Xmas tree shape, 'chorizo' is acutally a mixed nut chocolate, cottom candy, green rocks are jelly candy, and mushroom meringue...
It was an enjoyable dining experience with Takazaka, the dishes were creative, playfull, and delicious. The unique ingredients Chef Takazawa sourced from all over the country plays a key role in his dishes, while culinary skills are definitely as important as well.
Although Akiko is the only server who take cares of all the guests, her hospitality was nothing but perfection. Introduced each dish in details, where are the ingredients sourced from, how did the producer take care of them, and how the chef prepare them. We didn't talked much with Takazawa-san due to the language barrier, Akiko-san told us he is a very shy person. But it is not hard to see his enthusiasm in cooking if you have a chance to visit Takazawa.