After having two amazing lunch at L’effervescence in Nishi-Azabu, i finally revisit there for dinner on their first opening day of 2016. Even after have been to a lot of other top French or even Western restaurants in Tokyo, L’effervescence is by far my favorite, not ‘one of’.
Chef Namae-san combines the traditional French cooking with a Japanese twist, by using the best seasonal produce 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. Everytime the team surprised me a lot in all senses. I have never heard anyone who doesn’t like this place.
Date: Jan.12.2016 (Dinner)
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~
We started with sake which was mixed with French wine. This won’t surprise me if the welcome sake is served at a traditional Kaiseki restaurant, but as a French restaurant, it is very interesting. The mixture of French wine brings fruity flavor, great start.
Followed by pickled olive from Kagawa prefecture (香川県), chef uses Japanese olive oil infused by figs. As mentioned by Maitre D’Hotel Zac, the first olive gives a very mild discovery of the taste, while you can feel its rich and fruity flavor. It was indeed aromatic and creamy.
The classical amuse at L’effervescence always consists of a seasonal consomme, side with something liquid-hydrogened on the side to match with. One the left hand side, a shot glass with layers of cauliflower, sherry vinegar jelly, fresh botan shrimpl and sea urchin on the top. The creamy flavor of the land matches very well with the creamy and sweet flavors of the ocean. On the side, the liquid-hydrogened mikan (Japanese citrus) and white beer nicely freshen us up.
One of the most famous creations of Chef Namae is no doubt the apple pie without apple. He changes the filling based on his creations of the seasonal ingredients, and he named each version with a new number. This is the 22nd version – filled with monkfish liver, kumquat, pumpkin and bay leaf. The puff pastry was crispy and soft inside, the filling was smooth and flavorful. I wish i can have a bigger size like the one served during lunch.
It is quite interesting to know that a lot of great restaurants do not bake their own breads, instead, they serves bread from very famous bakeris. Of course, those bread on served are exclusive to those restaurants. 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 part is definitely the whipped tofu spread – my favorite spread ever, i can even eat it as a snack. Made of tofu from a traditonal tofu shop Tsuki no Shizuku (月の雫) in Chiba. It is creamy and light like yogurt. The Japanese olive oil was too light and fruity, wonderfully works with the tofu. (It is THAT good!)
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.
For some reasons, we got a free ‘gift’ from Namae-san, an extra course is certainly the best gift for foodies. It was a 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. 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 meal is incomplete without ‘a fixed point’ when you eat at L’effervescence. As how it is called, this dish is served at L’effervescence everyday, every meal, all the time… Despite has been cooked for 4 hours, the turnip was still incredibly 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.
Next dish was sauteed Nodoguro (blackthroat seaperch) 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.
This dish was consists of only three ingredients: mussel, cheese and artichoke. Looks very simple and really delicious. 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.
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.
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 Namae-san will come to our table for shaving the truffle. We love truffles, yes, please.
The fowl was sourced 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.