Tag Archive | eats

A date with Joël: Le Chateau, Tokyo

Had a date with Joël today. He’s a man that needs no introduction, but I’ll introduce you anyway. Full name: Joël Robuchon Age: 66 years old (what can I say, I like older men). Nationality: French (excellent lovers, so I’ve heard) Occupation: Chef He’s a man in demand. Had to book 3 months in advance to score a lunch date. Take a number, ladies. Ok, the above is not entirely true. It wasn’t really a date. But in my defence, dining at a 3 star Michelin restaurant is a bit like a blind date. The girl ums and ahs over what to wear, you wine, you dine and you want to be impressed and hopefully walk away at the end of the night without a bad aftertaste. (NB: I’ve never actually been on a blind date, but it’s how I’d like a blind date to be). First impressions were not too shabby. I will admit, he was a little bit out of my league though. The reality is, today I got to tick off something on my bucketlist – and that was to dine at a 3-star Michelin restaurant. A once in a lifetime dining experience (for the economically challenged like myself). For this one guy, back in 2004 – he spent an entire year traveling and dining at every 3 Michelin star restaurant around the world at that time! Deep pockets AND a big stomach. Really, I’m just jealous though. Japan is the culinary capital of the world and Japan has been awarded more Michelin stars than any other country (even France). I think there are 12 3-star Michelin restaurants in Japan. A group of us went to Joël Robuchon’s Le Chateau restaurant in Ebisu. Robuchon is a world-class chef. He has a total of 26 Michelin stars across a dozen restaurants around the world, more than any other single chef in the world. Quite the achievement. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this building in Ebisu’s Garden Place.

From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau

And for the longest time, until recently, I had no idea that it housed Michelin star establishments (yes, that’s right, more than one). Inside this chateau, you’ll find the Robuchon bakery, Rouge Bar, a restaurant called La Table on level 1 (2 Michelin stars) and Le Chateau restaurant (3 Michelin stars) on level 2, and on the third level is the private dining room for the Le Chateau restaurant – all by Joel Robuchon. He also has other 1 and 2-star Michelin dining venues around Tokyo. My friend organized this dining event last year, securing a reservation 3 months in advance. We were impressed she got us a table there. Lunch is cheaper than dinner, so we indulged in a long lunch on a cold, wet January Saturday. (For dinner, you might want to get a loan approval.) Upon arrival, my coat and umbrella was taken and placed into the cloakroom. I was then escorted up the stairs to the second level and into Rouge Bar. I had arrived early and was seated in this waiting room. I think the bar is only serviced in the evening. I was left unsupervised in the room which provided a good photo op. Gradually the other girls in our party arrived and we hung out in the room posing and taking photos. Here are photos of Bar Rouge. My photos aren’t so great. There wasn’t a lot of light in the room:

From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau

The carpet: So that’s Rouge Bar, where the colour theme is obviously red. As it turned out, I had arrived half an hour early, hence the number of photos of the bar. Once everyone in our party had arrived, we were ushered to the ‘Gold room’ – the Le Chateau Restaurant. The 3-star Michelin restaurant. Wow! We had entered the pearly gates of culinary heaven. We had all half-thought that they may reject the likes of us (even though we had a reservation). We worried that they probably would have thought that we couldn’t afford to pay the bill at a place like this. This is a place for people with real money, as opposed to us girls with fake Monopoly money. We were seated in our chairs, beside which were little stools for our handbags. Table setting was amazing. And yes, I was totally going to be that person who took a photo of everything on their SLR camera and look like the tourist. (Bless, Japan. Don’t reckon I could get away with it in Paris).

From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau

We had a glass of champagne to begin with.

From Robuchon Le Chateau

And soaked in the ambience. So much gold and bling.

From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau

It almost felt like we were in a gallery or museum. All the walls were protected in glass.

From Robuchon Le Chateau

There was even bling for the table.

From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau

The dining ware was amazing. Check out the bread plate.

From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau

We ordered the lunch course – menu Plasir (french for ‘Pleasure’), which offers dishes from the dinner menu so at least we got to sample some of the dinner dishes. It was an 8 course affair and then some. They actually offer a few set lunch courses here, of varying prices to suit your budget. I’m going to spare you a detailed pompous commentary/critique of the exquisiteness and delicacy of the food, barring a few side comments. I’ll leave that to the professional food critics. Suffice to say the food was really good. It was an amazing dining experience. And it is just that, an ‘experience’. The whole thing was amazing. And I was so elated to be there. Bliss. I’m just going to post up lots of photos instead and let your imagination do the tasting. The menu was in both Japanese and French, so I’ll also write a brief description in English. (I took home a copy of the menu. Don’t worry, it was totally kosher to take it home). We were served bread to start with.

From Robuchon Le Chateau

First up, was the amuse bouche – a pumpkin mousse of sorts.

From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau

Dish name: L’Oursin (sea urchin). A delicate sea urchin gelee with cauliflower cream. I don’t like sea urchin. I don’t eat sea urchin. But here I was faced with sea urchin. I ate it all. (The kitchen will change certain ingredients if you don’t like certain foods or have allergies. They let us study the menu beforehand. I was happy to try the sea urchin and opted not to change the menu.) Still have to say that I don’t like sea urchin. It ain’t my favourite food. It was served in a glass shell. The tiny roses that you see on the plate were real roses!

From Robuchon Le Chateau

From Robuchon Le Chateau

Good food must be accompanied with good wine. The wine menu here came out on an iPad. Welcome to the future, ladies and gents. We ordered a bottle of red wine for the table. We were scared to ask the price, but ask we did and went for the cheapest bottle (at 6000yen). Even the cheapest red wine at a 3 Michelin star restaurant must still be pretty awesome and probably the most expensive wine I will still ever have. The bottle opening is quite the affair. A trolley is brought out, the bottle is opened and then poured into a large glass flask and then left to sit for a while. We were told that the wine needed to “breathe”. Geez, that must mean that every red wine I’ve drunk up until now has choked. It never had a chance to “breathe”. I’m not sure what the significance of the lit candle was. I thought the Sommelier(ess) was very knowledgeable and professional. At the end of the meal once we had polished off the bottle of wine, they then handed us an envelope with the wine label laminated and a profile label which you can fill in. I thought that was super cool. The girls let me keep it coz I love that kind of thing. Pretty special. The whole experience was fascinating. There was a bread trolley which they wheeled around, and you could select a variety of breads and baguette. They came around a few times during the course of the meal. I really enjoyed the black olive bread. I also tried the onion bread as well. After making your selection, they would go off and toast your bread so it was warm before serving. (The bread selection was all complimentary with the meal. You can have as much bread as you like, but it would be a shame to to fill up on bread coz there’s like another 6 courses to get through).

From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau

Dish: Le Foie Gras de Canard Foie gras (duck liver) in a parmesan risotto. This dish was delicious. The parmesan risotto was amazing. I think I liked it even more than the foie gras. Rice and cheese never tasted so good. To make rice and cheese taste like this could bring world peace. If only one could bottle it’s aroma.

From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau

Looking deliriously happy: Dish: L’Amadai. Tile fish with baked scales poached in yuzu broth with a root vegetable. The cooking technique of the fish scales on this dish, is something special. The fish skin is crispy. It’s almost like the fish equivalent of pork crackling.

From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau

DIsh: Le filet de boeuf Beef accompanied with peas, green beans, carrots, mushrooms, served with a carrot oil. I really loved the colours and flavours of this dish. The mushrooms were pretty divine. And I do love a good red meat.

From Robuchon Le Chateau

And how cool is the plate!

From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau

Seriously, let’s just hang this on the wall and call it art. What a masterpiece!

From Robuchon Le Chateau

Now for dessert. I wasn’t expecting so many dessert dishes, of which there were four! Dish: Le Guava. Lychee gelee with vanilla cream, with guava granite, and rose foam.

From Robuchon Le Chateau

Bird’s eye view:

From Robuchon Le Chateau

Here’s a group photo of us enjoying our meal:

From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau

Dish: La Mangue Mango coulee praline parfait with toffee and pepper. Also delicious. Mango, toffee and hazelnut. Best combo ever. And great textures too. Soft and crunchy. Everything on the plate was edible including the halo-looking bit.

From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau

Splurged on a glass of port as well. Tea/Coffee, served with sweets. The waiters even synchronized the tea pouring (which I might add, should totally be an Olympic sport – the synchronized tea pouring that is) (3 of us had tea). Lots of little details like that throughout the meal made the experience awesome, like the little nifty crumb sweeper thing that they used towards the end of our meal. Dish: green tea (matcha) gelee with creme brulee.

From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau

The coffee cup and saucer were really cool.

From Robuchon Le Chateau

Last up was a chocolate and macaron.

From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau

A pretty special experience. Here are some additional pics of the restaurant.

From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau

The food was very filling and we were totally satisfied. We lingered around until everyone in the restaurant had left. We had been there over four hours just soaking in and savouring the experience. We were the last party to leave. The waiters were really accommodating and let us (me) take as many photos of the restaurant as I liked considering there was no one there.

From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau

We were also led out by one of the chefs! My brush with a culinary celebrity. We had actually discussed during the meal whether we would be allowed to meet the chef(s). As it so happened, I got to talk with and have a photo with one of the chefs – Mr T. Watanabe. He was the chef responsible for the fish dish. He was super nice and friendly and more than happy to have photos with us.

From Robuchon Le Chateau

And then the battery on my DSLR went dead. It had luckily survived the meal. I had taken over 250 photos! So the next few photos are on my regular digital point and shoot camera (hence poorer quality).

From Robuchon Le Chateau

Upon leaving, we were also given a souvenir goodie bag (that all diners receive), which had a loaf of special bread of some sort from the Rabuchon bakery. Ah, the irony. Exchange one kind of dough for another. And then some more photos:

From Robuchon Le Chateau

3 stars, count ’em:

From Robuchon Le Chateau
From Robuchon Le Chateau

It was 5pm by now. A day well spent.

From Robuchon Le Chateau

The Chateau by night:

From Robuchon Le Chateau

I thought the service was good. Very polite and professional. The staff were multilingual (Japanese, English, French – and possibly other languages) and spoke English for our group. They weren’t at all haughty or arrogant. And they were so accommodating with regard to photography. Everyone in the restaurant was taking photos of everything that was put in front of them and the staff happily took photos for people and were happy for people to snap away. As for the price, well let’s just say I dropped some yen, but it was worth it for a bucketlist experience. And that’s the point of a bucketlist. If you had a month to live, what would you want to do? If I had a month to live – climbing the corporate ladder, getting married, buying a house, buying the latest gadget etc would not be on that list. Instead, I’d be traveling, eating, traveling, eating and then repeat. All with good company, of course. I’d want to see and eat as much as I possibly could. So, yes, money would be no objection. A Murakami quote from one of his books comes to mind: “A real gentleman never discusses women he’s broken up with or how much tax he’s paid”. In my case, “A real lady never discusses men she’s been broken up with or how much she’s paid for a meal.” Sadly, my blind date with Joel will be just a one-night stand. Following the above maxim, I mustn’t discuss this either. However, I will treasure the receipt. (They of course, will split the bill accordingly to what each guest consumed. This is one place where you don’t want your guests doing a runner on you and leave you footing the entire bill! FYI, there are no banks nearby to rob.) Le Chateau Website. I also recommend that you try and get your hands on and watch a neat documentary called: “Michelin Stars: The madness of perfection”. It’s a fascinating and interesting doco providing an insight into the history and secrecy of the Michelin headquarters and it’s anonymous judges with a “licence to eat”. The pursuit of perfection and the chase for a Michelin star even drove one chef to suicide. I came across this documentary on a long-haul flight (in-flight documentary) a year or two ago. It was aired on Australian tv last year. I think it’s a BBC production. Get your hands on it and watch it if you can. Super interesting.

Afternoon Tea at Mariage Freres (Ginza)

You know you’re a tea geek when you spend your weekend (that is, time not at work) hanging out with your boss and your boss’ cousin for afternoon tea. A few weekends ago, actually the weekend after I got back from Turkey, I went to afternoon tea with my boss (my manager at work) and his visiting cousin from New York. My manager, like me, is a huge foodie. And his cousin is a huge tea lover. And by huge, I mean massive. Ah, a kindred spirit. She puts me to shame. I love the whole experience of “Afternoon Tea” – the food, the tea and the ambience. She, however, was a tea expert and Anglophile (lover of all things British). It did not escape my observant spectacled eyes that she was even wearing tea earrings – on one ear was a teacup and the other ear was a teapot! She was visiting Tokyo and during her two-week stay had partaken in at least four afternoon teas. Impressive. So we tried out a different non-hotel tea venue. They call it a Tea Emporium (Tea salon and restaurant). We went to the Mariage Freres in Ginza on Saturday at around lunchtime-ish. Mariage Freres, if it wasn’t obvious, is a French tea brand, founded by brothers Henri and Edouard Mariage – hence Mariage Freres (The Mariage Brothers). They boast a tea menu of about 500 blends. Impressive. Or so their menu would have you believe. It seemed that each tea we tried to order, they were out of stock. Hmmm, perhaps they list 500 teas but maybe they only have about a dozen in stock. I have mixed feelings about this place. Their tea store is impressive, as is their tea selection (all 500 of them). Food was a little hit and miss. But their service was, how shall I say, perhaps very French (and excuse the stereotype) – they lived up to their rude, arrogant service. Or maybe we were just unlucky. We weren’t able to make reservations here. Apparently, bookings are only available for lunch and not if you’re just having afternoon tea. There are four 4 different dining levels here. And the place was pretty full with ladies who lunch. We were seated on the second level dining area. Tea menu was impressive. 500 teas to choose from. Dilemma. Thankfully, the tea menu was nicely categorized according to tea varieties, and also number coded. They also had a tea book (almost like a tea manual which gave an explanation of all the teas). I will go back at some point to buy that book. Yes, it was for sale. It detailed tea history, tea brewing method, plus a blurb about all the 500 teas on offer at Mariage Freres. For afternoon tea, there are a few options available. It’s not the traditional afternoon tea either. It’s more like a little lunch plate. I recommend actually eating lunch before you come here, and then have the afternoon tea here a little later, because you may not leave here feeling full. I opted for the croque monsieur set – which came obviously with the croque monsieur and a salad. It of course included your choice of tea (except the more expensive specialty blends) and your choice of dessert. So no three-tiered platters here. The all-white tuxedo uniforms that the staff wore did nothing for me, except feel as though I was on the Titanic. I like a man in uniform, but these were just tacky, especially for a tea store. I also noticed that ALL the staff that worked there were male. Not that I have a problem with that. They were obviously aiming to please all it’s predominantly female customers. I didn’t spot a single female employee throughout the Tea Emporium. As usual, I got out the SLR to capture and document the afternoon tea. However, no photos are allowed here! Was told off by the staff! I did manage to get a couple of photos in before they saw me and told me off.

From Mariage Freres
From Mariage Freres
From Mariage Freres

I then had to put my camera away for the remainder of the meal. With over 500 teas to choose from, I asked what their ‘ninki’ (most popular, number 1) tea was. Here, it’s the Marco Polo – described as Mariage Freres most famous secret mysterious blend with the aroma of Chinese and Tibetan flowers. The aroma of the tea was very vanilla-esque. It was ok. Not my favourite tea. An impressive selection of tea though, so there’s bound to be one to suit your tastebuds – teas from all regions over the world. The staff are a bit picky when it comes to tea service here. And again, maybe it boils down to a bit of arrogance and the French art of tea, but here the teas are especially timed and brewed by their own tea masters, and all you receive is the pot with the brewed tea – free of the leaves. They are very pedantic about their tea brewing methods. Personally, I like receiving pots with the tea leaves in it. This allows the paying customer (us) to enjoy tea brewed at the strength that we desire. Here, you don’t have a choice. Their strength-brewed tea only. It does dispense with the need for a tea strainer…but I quite like tea strainers. Receiving teapots without the tea leaves in it, means no hot water refill either. You’ll need to order yourself another pot of tea which will set you back about 1000yen. I also think Mariage Freres are tea purists – they don’t give you milk….unless you specifically request it. I can understand that to enjoy and savour the subtle flavours of tea, you shouldn’t add milk, but milk in my tea is a huge comfort thing for me, except obviously herbal blends, green teas, jasmine and Chinese and Japanese teas and the like. What amused me here were the tea warmers for the teapots. The teapots were covered in little armour outfits – a metal tea cozy!

From Mariage Freres

I enjoyed the croque monsiuer – can’t go wrong there. The tiny salad was rather lame and not so tasty. The other lunch plate options were the mixed sandwiches, and something else…I can’t remember. If the afternoon tea plates are too light, there are lunch courses on offer. For dessert we got to choose a selection from the menu or the cake display. On offer are scones, creme brulee, macaroons, and a small assortment of cakes and tarts etc. Normally, I go scones, but on this occasion I opted for the earl grey creme brulee. I hadn’t been too impressed by afternoon tea at Mariage Freres, but it was redeemed somewhat by the creme brulee. I managed to sneak in a couple of pics on my iPhone:

From Mariage Freres
From Mariage Freres
From Mariage Freres

I thought the food was somewhat overpriced for what it was. It’s about 3000yen. I guess, it’s not so bad, considering the tea itself is worth 1000yen for a pot. But for 3000yen I expect to be somewhat full. And sadly, I wasn’t. And the service was really lacking. We then went down to the tea store on ground level. They have beautiful displays of teapots and teacups. (Apologies for poor photo quality. I was trying to discreetly take them on my iPhone).

From Mariage Freres
From Mariage Freres
From Mariage Freres
From Mariage Freres
From Mariage Freres
From Mariage Freres

Being as it were, in Japan, there was a woman in a kimono:

From Mariage Freres

What I also loved about the tea store are the wall-to-wall shelves lined with oversized tea canisters! I love tea stores that do that.

From Mariage Freres
From Mariage Freres
From Mariage Freres

Mari had wanted to buy some tea here, but alas, service was non-existent despite us waiting for about 20 minutes. The staff here are really hoighty-toighty which makes for a really unpleasant experience. Quite the turn-off. They instead bought tea at one of the department stores at another Mariage Frere store outlet. As I mentioned earlier, there are about 4 dining levels here. The venue is narrow but it’s built over four floors: In the basement is the:

From Mariage Freres

(Which I should add, is not a museum at all). On the ground level is the tea store. On the next level:

From Mariage Freres

And then there’s the following two rooms:

From Mariage Freres

Some of their cuisine is made with tea as an ingredient (eg, the earl grey creme brulee). In addition to being a tea venue, they offer French dining.

From Mariage Freres
From Mariage Freres

You might want to take a French cuisine glossary just to read the menu. I took a lot of photos of outside the store where they couldn’t tell me off for taking photos!

From Mariage Freres
From Mariage Freres
From Mariage Freres
From Mariage Freres
From Mariage Freres

Mariage Freres (Ginza) gets a decent rating on Tabelog. As for the no photo rule – no photos my arse. There’s a whole stack of photos on Tabelog. 255 photos from Tabelog reviewers alone have been posted on that site. And I reckon there’d be a handful of Japanese bloggers who have all taken photos on their keitai. We were unlucky to have been seated right in front of all the staff. Had we been seated away from them, I reckon I could have gotten away with a lot more photos. There’s another Mariage Freres tea salon in Shinjuku. I’m game enough to go and try that one despite the rather disappointing experience in Ginza. I’m prepared to give them a second chance. But it might have to wait until next year. Mariage Freres website in Japan.

Conrad Tokyo Afternoon Tea: French fizz and mini morsels

If you want to attract ladies to an event, I have two words that will do the trick: “Unlimited champagne”. Well, make that three words: “Unlimited sparkling wine” – coz let’s face it, it did not come specifically from the Champagne region. The folks at the Conrad Hotel, Tokyo, know how to get bums on seats at their Twenty-Eight Bar and Lounge. If the 2 x Michelin star Gordan Ramsay restaurants at the Conrad Hotel (part of the Hilton chain) aren’t enough to attract people, then their Afternoon Tea set with 2 hours of unlimited french fizz/champers/”I can’t believe it’s not champagne”/sparkling wine, certainly will. I had no trouble recruiting fellow tea lovers for September’s Champagne Afternoon tea – 8 people in attendance!

So Sunday afternoon was spent at the Conrad Hotel at their Bar and Lounge – called “Twenty Eight”. And guess what level it’s on? If you guessed level 28, you’d be right! I had originally wanted to do this venue back in August on the weekend that I went to Bvlgari, but they were booked out, hence I arranged to go to Bvlgari instead. So I booked a month in advance for this one. The Afternoon Tea is called “American Classic” and the food was amazing! So darn cute. Everything was mini. And nothing is cooler than miniature food…except for giant oversized food. And to top it off, for a limited time there is a champagne offer which half of us took up on – 2 hours of unlimited Chandon to accompany the afternoon tea. Yes, please! I’m going to launch straight into the food. Another venue that does a modern take on afternoon tea – they’ve done away with the three-tiered platters here. Instead, mini food is presented on a flat glass platter. And the mini food was soooo cute. We oohed and aahed over it. You’d have thought it was a baby shower. No one ate for a good 15 minutes as we happily admired the food and snapped away. Each platter held two servings. I’ve heard of super size me…but this was super shrink me.

From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo

How cute and awesome is mini food. There’s not enough mini food in this world, I say. Proof that good things come in small packages.

From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo

Savouries, sweets and scones all on the one tray, so beautifully presented. Talk about so much fun with food.

From Conrad Tokyo

I’m rather obsessed with this mini food.

From Conrad Tokyo

Food for little people = fun.

From Conrad Tokyo

Can. Not. Get. Enough. Photos. Of. This.

From Conrad Tokyo

We were in for a fun afternoon. Mini morsels of delectable food, washed down with unlimited glasses of Champers!

From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo

The way to a woman’s heart (or at least mine) is champagne and cute mini food (or giant food). And the food not only looked good but was pretty darn delicious too! It was so hard to pick and choose what to eat first and save for last. My ritual is to eat the savouries first – of which there were three on this occasion. This was the walnut bread with Iberico ham scented with truffles. OMG. So tasty. Love nuts. Love bread. Does that make me carb crazy. And Iberico ham is a really famous, amazing, tasty ham. And it did not disappoint. Sooo good. This was definitely one of my favourites.

From Conrad Tokyo

I think the highlight of the day was the mini burger (slider for you American readers). Mini burgers are so the food of du jour. We were all rather besotted with this burger. It was a perfect miniature burger. God bless burgerlings.

From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo

I couldn’t resist doing a cheesy burger pose! (Clearly, I have no shame.) What can I say, I’m lovin’ it. This is one very happy meal.

From Conrad Tokyo

And inside was juicy. Mini sliders have a tendency to be on the drier side but this surprisingly juicy and not dry. It also had a tasty harisa aioli for extra flavour. The burger was another winner.

From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo

Yum. Yum. It was interesting to see what everyone was saving for last. Someone was clearly saving the mini burger for the end. The last burger standing:

From Conrad Tokyo

Next I had the brie cheese on cranberry bread sandwich. I thought that I would love this, but I didn’t.

From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo

I then moved onto the sweets next. There were a lot of desserts in this afternoon tea, and normally it’s my least-favourite tier. But everything on this plate was awesome and I loved the desserts portion of this particular afternoon tea. Desserts were their forte here. And I appreciate that it took skills to make everything in miniature. There was a lime marshmallow which was very limey – nice and tart, yet sweet and marshmallowy too.

From Conrad Tokyo

This was followed by more miniature food – a tiny devil’s chocolate fudge cake.

From Conrad Tokyo

And then a miniature cupcake. This was really yummy. A pistachio and cherry cupcake. Cupcakes are pretty small to begin with but this about a quarter of a size of a full cupcake.

From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo

It was sad to see the platters dwindle down as the mini morsels were slowly picked off and devoured.

From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo

Getting smaller…

From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo

So next I tried the New York cheesecake. Personally, I’m not a huge cheesecake fan in general. The only cheesecake I really love is my mum’s cheesecake which she always makes for birthdays and special occasions. It’s a favourite at family and relo gatherings. Anyway, this was the cheesecake – still good nevertheless.

From Conrad Tokyo

Now normally I always…always save the scones for last. I never deviate from this ritual. But I did on this occasion. There were two scones – a plain one and a mango and coconut scone. It was a face-off between the lemon meringue pie or the scones. The lemon meringue pie won! Yes, lemon meringue pie was on offer. Awesome. Especially since just a couple of weekends ago I had been in pursuit of lemon meringue pie. And the only thing better than lemon meringue pie is MINI lemon meringue pie!

From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo

So I broke with tradition and ate the scones next. I just can’t get decent scones in Japan. They are dry, hard, American ‘biscuits’. I preferred the plain one over the mango and coconut one.

From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo

And then down to the last lemon pie standing:

From Conrad Tokyo

I had saved it for last. And it was pretty divine, and so cute to look at!

From Conrad Tokyo

Check out the detail to the mini meringue peaks.

From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo

It was yummy. It was actually way better than the other lemon pie that I had bought. There was such a tiny layer of the lemon curd, but it was so incredibly tarty and awesome. The only downside was the pastry on this pie. It was too flakey. It had been made with puff pastry rather than being a shortcrust pie pastry. Still bliss.

From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo

And then the whole platter was empty. What a sad moment.

From Conrad Tokyo

You might recall that I’ve mentioned before in other tea reviews that it would be nice if they gave us fresh plates. Essentially we are eating savoury foods, scones, and desserts all off the same plate. Today was a prime example of needing fresh plates. Here’s what happens when you eat randomly (this is why I save the scones for last). Someone had obviously saved the mini hamburger for last but was left with a jam-smeared plate. Any afternoon tea venue that offers fresh plates will definitely earn brownie points with me, so as to AVOID the below travesty:

From Conrad Tokyo

I really enjoyed the afternoon tea arrangement here – glass platters of mini food. I noticed that for other guests there in groups of twos – had different glass platters – they were glass platters that were in a staircase arrangement. I was a little jealous of their servingware. Super cool. I zoomed in a random person’s afternoon tea set. You can kind of see in this photo, what I mean:

From Conrad Tokyo

Here are some photos of the Twenty Eight Bar and Lounge. Plenty of natural light streaming in from the tall glass windows.

From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo

Seats by the window only seat two people, but there are great water views over Tokyo Bay.

From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo

It was a lovely afternoon tea enjoyed with a great bunch of friends, including a couple of newbies to high tea. Eight has been my record number of attendees in Tokyo. Our little high tea societea obligatory group shot:

From Conrad Tokyo

I highly rate the food here. Service was only a ok. Views are nice too – over the water. The French fizz offer – always a welcome bonus. Oh, I nearly forgot to talk about the tea. Only three teas are on offer here – Assam, Darjeeling and Ceylon. Nothing special. But for those who declined the champagne option, they went through a couple of pots of tea. Everyone chooses a tea and then you need to stick to it. No tea sampling here. Also coffee on offer as well. Once you’ve selected your tea for the afternoon – it’s as much tea as you like (unlimited refills). I went with the ceylon tea. I’m a little ashamed to say that I did not even drink a whole cup of tea. Was too busy drinking the french fizz!!! The Afternoon Tea – American Classic – was really good here. I thoroughly enjoyed the food.

From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo

The Afternoon Tea set on its own (food platter plus tea/coffee) is 3950yen (tax included). For the 2 hour free-flowing sparkling wine offer in conjunction with the Afternoon Tea set is 6000yen. Pretty good value, I say. For an extra 2000yen you can easily down 5-6 glasses of Chandon comfortably. More, if you’re really keen to get bang for your buck. (NB: That the sparkling wine offer is only valid at certain times of the year. Check with the hotel. It ends at the end of September…which is why we went when we did). The afternoon tea here is like the amuse bouche version of afternoon tea – and my bouche was amused. Touché mon amie.

From Conrad Tokyo

I liked that you can totally relax here and take your time. There is no ushering you out the door in a hurry. Afternoon tea is on offer from 2:30pm, so we booked for right on that time. I was running late, so we probably didn’t start until about 3pm. The unlimited sparkling wine is valid for two hours, and then after that you can stay and continue to have as much tea as you like. Most people left at about 6pm, but I stayed back with a couple of the other girls, and we probably didn’t leave until about 7-7.30pm. It got dark, so I was able to take some night shots of the Lounge in Bar mode.

From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo

Night view:

From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo

I do love a champagne afternoon tea.

From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo

The Conrad Hotel is a very nice hotel. Modern and contemporary design. I liked it.

From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo
From Conrad Tokyo

I won’t be doing another afternoon tea for a little while now, which is why I indulged up (not that I need an excuse). For a least another 4-6 weeks. No more teas in September because the next few weekends are taken up with a run race, an ows race and little long weekend trip. And then off overseas for two weeks. The Conrad Hotel, Tokyo is located at Shiodome/Shinbashi area near HamaRikyu Japanese Gardens. From the subway you’ll need to alight at Shiodome station. The hotel is connected to the Shiodome exit. Shiodome station is the most convenient access. If coming by JR, alight at Shinbashi station. I got lost coming from this station. And it took me over 15 minutes to get there, although it should have taken way less than that. It can be a little confusing…so allow a little extra time. Hotel website, afternoon tea menu, info etc can be found here.

The Ritz on the House: World of Tea in Tokyo

It brings me great joy and pleasure to write today’s blog post. Today’s write-up is a labour of love. So, you know how I have this rather humble blog of mine, and you know how much I love high teas (well, tea and food in general) … well, I have had the rather extreme good fortune of partaking in the World of Tea experience at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Tokyo as an invited guest! You might recall that back in May to usher in my (30th! Gasp!) birthday, I had a rather tiny soiree (with some fellow gastronomes) at one of the creme de la creme extravagant high tea experiences at the Ritz Carlton in Tokyo – the highest place to do High Tea in Tokyo (on level 45).

Correct me if I am wrong, but I do believe it may also be the highest place to do Afternoon Tea in the World! So after writing that particular blog post and review of the High Tea at the Ritz, the Executive Assistant Manager of Food and Beverage who oversees the dining establishments at the Ritz in Tokyo read my blog, and got in touch with me. I had no idea why he wanted to get in contact with me. So naturally, my imagination went wild. Perhaps a job offer as a food photographer (one can dream), or perhaps he wanted to give me a tea warmer (which I had raved about). As it turned out, much to my delight, he was extending an invitation to me (along with Tami and Kaori) to attend as special guests to the World of Tea experience! Wow. Talk about incredibly amazing.

A free afternoon tea at the Ritz! Now there’s seven words that I like very much. He also wrote me some kind words about that blog post: I quote: “Dear Aleisha, Greetings from The Ritz-Carlton! I have read your blog regarding the High Afternoon Tea experience at our Lobby Lounge. Thank you very much for your honest description of the time spent with us. I enjoyed your subtle sense of humour as well as your attention to details while creating the blog.” —- I was extremely flattered. He had me at: “I have read your blog”. (I don’t think many people I meet could say that to me! My blog has a very small readership.) I won’t get too carried away on this point…must bring myself down a notch. They probably have Google Alerts set-up everytime the word “Tokyo Ritz” appears on the internet. He then went on to say in the email: “Your tea time story brought so much joy to our Lobby Lounge Team! Therefore I would be more than honored if you accept my invitation for our World of Tea. Please feel free to ask your two friends Tami and Kaori to come as well. This is our Lobby Lounge monthly special event in which we partner with different tea company every time in order to create unique and memorable moments for our guests.”

Wow. How exciting. And how unbelievable! This stuff only happens in the movies! This was better than winning the lottery! And then my alarm went off…and this was all just a dream. No, just kidding!!! Seriously all of this happened!!!!

The World of Tea experience happens at the Ritz hotel for three days exclusively every month. Each month they feature different tea suppliers/brands and offer a customized afternoon tea menu (usually based on a theme) with an assortment of tea pairings from that particular tea supplier. In the past they have had Taylors of Harrogate, and Leafull, to name just a couple. Even though I was invited back in May, I decided to take up the offer this month. August’s World Of Tea Experience was presented by Lupicia (a well known tea brand) with the theme being ‘Ryou’ meaning ‘Cool’ – ideal for summer with a focus on iced-tea blends. With a couple of month’s notice, my friends and I had arranged time off from work to partake in this World of Tea experience at the Ritz as special guests. The Ritz on the House!

From World of Tea: The Ritz

Upon arrival, I simply said my name and was ushered immediately to our seats (by the window, I might add). Window seating – always a plus! Me: “Hi. My name is Aleisha.” Them: “Right this way”. (So this is how the other half live! I could get used to this.) We got lovely window seating with great views over Tokyo (it helps to be on the 45th floor).

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

We sat and perused the World of Tea special menu (which I took home as a keepsake. Might have to frame it or laminate or something).

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

The table was exquisitely set up.

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

There was a tea course which involved samples of six different teas (all from Lupicia)! What I loved about it, was that each tea was served in a different tea cup/beverage vessel! The Welcome Tea was an Oolong tea served in a champagne glass. (This was a chilled tea). I was half-expecting this to taste sweet.

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

Mustn’t forget the bird’s eye view of the tea. Look at the clarity of the tea.

From World of Tea: The Ritz

The First Tea was Sencha (a deep-steamed green tea) served in a chawan which I forgot to take a photo of! My only saving grace is that you can see the cup that it was served in, in this photo. It’s the little Japanese cup to the right of the photo (with the little lid on it).

From World of Tea: The Ritz

The Second Tea was a Bocha (a roasted tea) served in a really cool cup and saucer. The saucer was hollowed out to fit the cup perfectly (ぴったり). No mixing and matching cups and saucers with this one! We checked the bottom of the cup and saw that it was made by Lupicia, so me thinks, you can probably purchase them from a Lupicia store.

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

The ‘Tea for Break” – the ‘intermission tea’ was Gyokuro – another iced-tea. They alternated between hot teas and iced-teas. It was served in a little egg-cup-like shot glass.

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

The Third Tea was a Japanese black tea (hot).

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

And the Encore Tea (I love how they called it an ‘Encore’ tea!) was a matcha tea (a traditional rich Japanese green tea) which was chilled and served on the rocks (i.e. with ice).

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

An interesting selection of Japanese teas both chilled (perfect for summer) as well as hot teas. All the teas presented on this occasion are all from with Japan. The tea menu came with a description blurb of each tea which was very thoughtful. The teas are served as progression throughout the meal, and not served all at once.

From World of Tea: The Ritz

If any of these teas take your fancy then check out Lupicia in Australia, Japan, the US. Don’t you just love how that an anagram for ‘tea’ is ‘eat’ (and ‘ate’) which brings me nicely to the part where we talk about the food (transition…subtle). There was an entree of cutlass fish which I think was part of the savoury tier.

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

The flavour was a little too subtle for my liking. It could have done with a bit more flavour. Time for the piece de resistance. The magnum opus. The three tiers of epicuriosity.

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

Here was the savoury tier which included some delicious sushi! This platter was so visually appealing. Fresh and vibrant colours. Even the photos look edible!

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

First, you must eat with your eyes, as beautifully captured on my SLR Nikon D5000 (you’re welcome). Hence, an overload of photos. The sweets tier:

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

And then the scones, with the beautifully quinelled (curled scoop) of cream:

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

And lest we forget the jam and preserve condiments.

From World of Tea: The Ritz

Once the tiered platter is brought out, no one is allowed to eat until I’ve taken no less than 200 photos of it, which takes a good 10-15 minutes. Then we’re allowed to eat. (I apologize to anyone who eats with me.) My ritual then is to bring each food portion down onto my serving plate, followed by another photo session, but at least this time I’m not preventing other people from eating. I always start with the savoury plate. Such clean presentation. Such awesome food photography skills (I am typing this one-handed whilst I toot my own horn with the other) 🙂

From World of Tea: The Ritz

How skillful was this corn shinjo. The outer layer of the corn kernels have been delicately placed around the seafood cake to make it look like a slice of corn cob! Food art.

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

The food menu was very Japanese-influenced. Sushi, sweet potatoes, rice noodles (which just quietly, something was amiss with).

From World of Tea: The Ritz

I love the clarity of the rice granules in this next shot:

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

Following the savoury treats is the sweet delights. Remember: Savour then Devour.

From World of Tea: The Ritz

I arrange each onto my plate, like so:

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

Same plate, different angles!

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

This was the rose flavoured white peach tartlet which was delicious.

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

There was also a yuzu chocolate macaroon. Love chocolate. Love yuzu. I couldn’t get enough photos of this! I am rather obsessed with looking at macaroons. I could look at them all day and take photos of them all day. I like looking at them more than I like eating them. I’m actually not a huge fan of them…still eat them nevertheless. (Just thought of an awesome idea. I am going to change my computer screen wallpaper at work to a macaroon display). Look here and here (two Google image searches, different spelling – ‘macaroons’ and ‘macrons’.) I took about thirty photos of this macaroon. I will spare you all thirty. Here are just a handful.

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

The art of restraint is one I have not yet mastered when it comes to food. I always save the scones for last.

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

Keeping in mind that the theme of this tea was ‘Cool’ – it was only fitting that the menu was fresh, vibrant, light, colourful, refreshing and very さっぱりした。 I found that the assortment of Japanese teas was very cleansing. And to prove that I am not being paid or ‘influenced’ by the Ritz to write a glowing review – I will say the following that could have been enhanced: – more staff, faster service (this was mentioned in my first review of the Ritz). – fresh plates to be brought out for each tier. Now, I don’t know of any hotel or tea venue that does this. But I think this would be a really nice touch and I would commend any hotel that does this. At every afternoon/high tea that I’ve done, you have only one small serving plate that you use as you work your way through the three tiers. It would be preferable to have fresh plates so that after I’ve eaten my savoury morsels, I am then not eating off the same plate that has cakes on it next. Not necessary. But nice. I think such a gesture would make a five-star place stand out from the rest of the pack. Relaxing, eating, drinking – no better way to spend a Friday afternoon, courtesy of the Ritz.

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

Three very lucky gals enjoying a World of Tea right here in Tokyo!

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

Live pianist as well to provide some ambient sounds.

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

Halfway during our afternoon tea, the manager who had extended the invitation to us, came over to introduce himself. It was lovely to meet him in person. Each month they try to do outdo themselves coming up with better and more creative World of Tea experiences from all across the globe. And various tea suppliers/tea brands are coming on board to showcase their tea line. I’m sure there is something to suit every taste. You should keep an eye on their events calendar to find out which ones pique your interest. Afternoon Tea at the Ritz is very popular and they have carved themselves a nice little niche in this market. They offer a regular afternoon tea which can be enjoyed on weekends. They also have the more extravagant Ritz high tea (which I indulged in for my birthday). There’s also the monthly World of Tea experience which changes every month. They also have a children’s Teddy Bear afternoon tea just for the kiddies! What’s more, is that you can also do a Ladies Afternoon Tea luncheon (more a lunch than an afternoon tea.) Check their calendar for specials. Current offer is: 4th lady is free in a group of 4, that is, four for the price of three.) I am fan of the artworks which adorn the Lobby Lounge inside the Ritz hotel. I have since discovered that the artist is Sam Francis. (You’re welcome). The World of Tea experience is generally held once a month over three consecutive days on the last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the month (best to check via their website for dates etc). Each month has a different theme, presented by a different tea supplier with a totally different menu. Teas from all around the world are presented. So you won’t expect the same thing twice. You can, however, guarantee that it will be creative and unique. Given that they’re on a weekday, it’s not something that I would normally be able to experience. Having worked overtime during this week doing additional computer training at work, I was able to take a few hours off work to attend this tea (in lieu of overtime pay). Judging by the crowd in the Lobby Lounge, it seems that this is quite popular amongst ladies of leisure. So this is how the other half live. I even saw one lady partaking in afternoon tea on her own. Kudos to her (*virtual high five* – *tap chest twice peace sign*). One of my other friends told me that she did afternoon tea alone when she was in the UK where at the Jane Austin teahouse you can order the Mr Darcy afternoon tea set. (Me squealing with joy on the inside). ‘Awe’ and then ‘some’. That just went straight onto my bucketlist!

From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz
From World of Tea: The Ritz

Housewives with wealthy husbands that can afford to do tea on a weekday (as you do), whilst the rest of us peasants have to work for a living. Where do I find me one of these rich husbands so I can do tea at the Ritz on a weekday every month?! World of Tea experience costs 6000yen per person. I am extremely grateful to have been able to partake in this courtesy of The Ritz. Thank you to Mr Cernia and his team at the Lobby Lounge at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Tokyo for the generosity shown to myself and two friends. We truly appreciate it. It was a wonderful, unforgettable experience! As a collector of memories and experiences…this one rates up there! Disclaimer: This review (as with all my reviews) are simply in my humble opinion, and are written purely as a hobby. I am not a professional food critic or writer (although am happy to do so if you have an offer!). I don’t recommend that you just start a blog just to get yourself a free meal. I write and blog about food and High Teas in particular purely as a hobby without any intention of profiting from it. For me, I am passionate about tea, about food, about food photography and Japan (hence this High Tea Project). Keep in mind that I have done over 16 high teas in Tokyo alone (over a period of 18 months), and over 20 high teas combined around the world, and this was the first time I have ever been given such a “gift”. My High Tea Project takes a toll on the wallet and the waistline. Yes, it’s a health hazard. It is just a hobby. But a hobby that I love. I have also reviewed well over 200 dining establishments throughout Japan on this blog and this is the first time I have ever “gained” something from it. Also be mindful of the fact that I also first went to the Ritz for afternoon tea on my own dime. You can read about that here. So this particular occasion was a fortuitous blessing and certainly not an expectation (although happy to take any offers if other 5-star hotels would like to follow suit!). Warning: Shameless spruiking/plugging. As an amateur food photographer, I would love to take photos of your food. Food is the only currency required. That’s right, no cash, just food, for my services. If you would like to enjoy High Tea at the Ritz check out their website. The hotel is located in Midtown (Roppongi). Complete photo album slideshow (this was the culled version and it has 132 photos. The full album contained 168 photos and that was after I trashed all the dud shots. This blog post has taken me over 3 hours to put together with text, images and links. It’s 4.30pm on Saturday arvo and I’m still in my PJs!) More photos of the Ritz can be found in my other post. Please feel free to leave a comment!

 

Tokyo Brunch: Sujis

Hooray for Friday. This week has flown. Last brunch review for this week is of Suji’s in Azabu Juban. This was the first place I ever did brunch at in Tokyo and my least favourite. Yet it seems popular amongst Tokyoites with differing tastebuds. Considering I’ve had way better brunch at other places, I probably wouldn’t recommend this place. It’s not that it was absolutely terrible, I’ve just had better. At the time (July 2010), it was the first time I had brunch in Tokyo so, of course, I went the traditional hot breakfast. Toast, eggs, bacon, potatoes and pancakes – a good combination of breakfast favourites. I think I ordered the best thing on the menu.

From Sujis brunch

Someone else ordered the eggs benedict (I think Beacon’s does the best).

From Sujis brunch

I really liked the egg yolk and egg white salt and pepper shaker.

From Sujis brunch

And pancakes are also on offer, which did not look at all appealing to me. Something like this would be the last thing I would want to stomach. Way too much blueberry concoction on top.

From Sujis brunch
From Sujis brunch

Suji website here. Tabelog entry here. It surprisingly gets a high rating over there.

Tokyo Brunch: 57

[Note: This restaurant has closed down since this review]

Another brunch review. The venue: 57 (Fifty-Seven) in Roppongi. According to their website, it is so named after 57th Street in New York city where east Manhattan meets with west Manhattan. 57 in Tokyo however is a NY-style chophouse, grill, bar lounge and restaurant. It seemed more like a nightspot to me, so it felt a little weird to be there in broad daylight for a weekend brunch. Brunch here is only offered on weekends, and we pretty much had the place to ourselves, although it seemed to draw a later crowd for lunchgoers. (I went back in December of last year.) Can’t say it was the best brunch to date (but not the worst either. Only one other place takes that wooden spoon) but still pleasant enough and they do a traditional hot breakfast which is always a bonus. I naturally ordered me the NYC Full Classic Breakfast of bacon, sausages, toast, mushrooms and grilled tomato.

From 57 Brunch
From 57 Brunch

I wasn’t the only one either. Make that four NYC classic breakfasts.

From 57 Brunch
From 57 Brunch

And no, that wasn’t the only thing on the menu. Their brunch offerings include french toast, eggs benedict, grilled salmon and scrambled eggs, steak and eggs, and apparently it ain’t a NY brunch with lox and bagels. There’s also fruit and yoghurt as well (but why would you go out to have that?) Here’s what the grilled salmon and scrambled eggs looked like:

From 57 Brunch

And the French Toast (which looked rather a little too eggy):

From 57 Brunch
From 57 Brunch

Brunch mains are all very reasonable around 1500yen. But the drinks will set you back a little. A pot of tea is 600yen (almost half the cost of your main dish, when all it is is hot water and a few leaves). Tea is overpriced everywhere you go.

From 57 Brunch

Here are some interior shots:

From 57 Brunch
From 57 Brunch
From 57 Brunch

Brunch may not be their strong point here. Perhaps dinner might be better here. It’s definitely a popular spot for drinks of a night. Fifty Seven website (Menu, location and info can all be found on their website – in English and Japanese). They get a 3.10 out of 5 over at Tabelog.

Tokyo Brunch: Lauderdale

Today’s brunch write-up is of Lauderdale, in Roppongi Hills. One of a few places that does a breakfast menu in addition to a brunch menu (as well as lunch and dinner). Brunch however is only available on weekends and public holidays. This is a popular place for brunch, and they are famous for their souffles. Each brunch main dish here comes with two free side dishes. These side dishes include savoury dishes and drinks. So you could work a combination of one drink and one side dish or two side dishes (and then pay for a drink separately). The side dishes are quite small so they won’t ruin your appetite. Having the insatiable appetite that I have, I opted for the free two side dishes, and ordered a pot of tea separately. The side dishes here aren’t that great. I ordered the fries and the homemade chili con carne.

From Lauderdale brunch
From Lauderdale brunch

Considering they are free accompaniments, don’t expect too much. The brunch mains though are very good here. Again the usual suspects are available – buttermilk pancakes, omelettes, eggs benedict, souffle and even a burger. I will say, that the brunch menu is somewhat limited. There’s no hot fry-up breakfast to be had here so if that’s what you’re after look elsewhere. On this particular occasion, I went the eggs benedict -they do two styles here. Bacon and shrimp guacomole and/or bacon and salmon. I think you can choose your combination, from memory. That is, one of each or two of your chosen one. I can’t remember. But I must have gotten one of each. I think the menu has changed from what I can tell on their website though. I think you need to order one or other other…but I can’t be too be sure on how it works. At the time of going there, which was last year, I got the eggs benedict – two ways.

From Lauderdale brunch
From Lauderdale brunch

One with bacon and the other with shrimp/prawns and guacamole.

From Lauderdale brunch
From Lauderdale brunch

Looks good, ay. It was pretty yummy too. The prawns were a bit awkward to eat though. Had to take off the tail and head and the shell, and then stick it back on the english muffin. The bacon one was better. There was something amiss with the flavour on the prawn and guacamole one that didn’t quite go with the hollandaise sauce. But I will say that the egg was cooked to perfection. Splat.

From Lauderdale brunch

If you’re ordering the eggs benedict, there’s also the third option of salmon which someone else got.

From Lauderdale brunch

You do not want to go out and dine with me. Coz I run around taking photos of everyone else’s food! (Don’t worry, I don’t approach strangers in the restaurant, but rather only food photos of the people that I’m with. Luckily, this is Japan and everyone takes photos of their food). A friend ordered the buttermilk pancakes, with banana and bacon topping. And they looked darn delicious. Just waiting to be drizzled with lashings of maple syrup.

From Lauderdale brunch

Lauderdale is famous for their savoury souffles which are cooked to order. I was glad someone ordered it, so I could take a photo of it.

From Lauderdale brunch
From Lauderdale brunch

I’ve been meaning to go back to this place again so I can order the souffle and the pancakes. Indoor and outdoor terrace seating is available. It can get quite busy here.

From Lauderdale brunch
From Lauderdale brunch
From Lauderdale brunch

I’d go to Lauderdale for your souffle and pancake needs. Better eggs benedict can be found elsewhere. And no hot breakfast fry-up available. Lauderdale is open all three meals of the day. Lauderdale brunch menu (Japanese and English) All menus can be found on the above link. Access: Roppongi Hills, opposite the Grand Hyatt hotel in Roppongi, near the shopping label area. Tabelog entry is here. They get a 3.49 out of 5 over there.