L’atelier de Joel Robuchon
2F Hillside, Roppongi Hills, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku,
Overall rating: 8/10
Date of visit: April 2015
It might seem a bit odd that I go to Tokyo and the best meal I have is in a French restaurant. Admittedly, I do like French food better than Japanese, and we didn’t end up in any high-end Japanese restaurants. We did also go to some good Japanese restaurants, but I’ve lost the names of them.
Despite having two Michelin stars, this restaurant is quite informal with quite straight-forward service and seating at both tables and at a counter (where we were seated).
So, there was quite a lot of choice at this restaurant: A la carte and several different menus with multiple choice for each course. We went for one of the tasting menus, and the only real bummer about this was that it included a soup, where I would have liked a “regular” course, and then that we could substitute the cheese serving with another proper dessert – only a small dessert. I think the menu option we chose was called “menu A”, priced at 13,500 yen (€105)
We first had a small amouse bouche, but I can’t recall what it was though:
I started with morels, asparagus and a poached egg (inside that “shell” on the picture). I mainly chose this because of the morels. They were nice, although not quite like those at Pierre Gagnaire, as far as I recall. The asparagus were nice too, but a tad bitter and lacked a bit of seasoning. Whenever I’m presented with an egg dish I always feel like “it’s just an egg – who cares?”, but here the egg was surprisingly good (overall 8/10).
One of us had a beautifully presented dish with crab and white asparagus cream:
Next up were the soups. I had a lettuce soup with cream cheese, which was pleasant enough but seemed like something that just filled a gap in the menu (6.5-7/10).
One of us had a tomato soup with croutons instead:
For the fish course we all chose John Dory, which I believe was served with a lemongrass sauce, mushrooms, sugar snaps and tomato fondue, although my memory is a bit vague here (8/10).
For main course I had spiced lamb with crispy onion rings, carrots, beans and a braising sauce (8/10).
One of us had guinea fowl, and this might very well be the very best piece of “chicken” I’ve ever tried:
The last one of us had wagyu beef with mashed potatoes and vegetables. This came at a supplementary price, but was worth it. Although I only had a small taste, it was probably one of the best beef dishes I’ve ever had. The guinea fowl was probably equal to the lamb or a tad better, while the beef was the best of the three dishes.
So, instead of cheese we had a small glass of basil and lime sorbet with berries and coriander syrup. This was too sour, and it seemed like a poor substitute for the cheese servings that we saw being served for the people next to us (at best 5-6/10).
My dessert was a chocolate drink with chocolate cream and passion fruit cream. This was also too sour, although the waiter seemed to suggest this was the intention (at best 5-6/10).
My companions had a different dessert which I believe was pistachio cream with strawberry cream. They called this one of the best desserts they’ve ever had. If I had chosen this dessert I would probably have been much happier with how this meal ended instead of finishing with two sour dishes right after each other.
After this we had a few small confections:
So, my overall score is also to reflect to quality of some dishes that were served here, although I didn’t choose them. So had I chosen the beef and the strawberry dessert, I would most likely have bumped up the score.
The service was good, straight-forward, warm and welcoming, although there wasn’t quite the assistance that you see in certain restaurants (holding your chair, walking you to the toilet, etc.), but that’s a minor detail. Overall, I was very happy with this meal, and I would be happy to come back or try one of the other Robuchon restaurants.