Saturday, 16 February 2013

Takazawa, Tokyo - 19 Nov 2012

Here are some photos from our dinner at a small restaurant in Akasaka, Tokyo called Takazawa. There are only 3 tables here with a maximum seating of 10 people per night. Reservations must be made at least 2 months in advance due to the limited seating. The kitchen is essentially a one man team (36 year old Yoshiaki Takazawa) supported by 2 young assistants. The front of house is managed by the chef’s wife, Akiko, who speaks perfect English. 

This is a restaurant that is all about food and providing warm, personalised service to its customers (btw every table on the night had different menus that have been catered based on dietary requirements, how many times you have been etc) without the fanfare of starred / hatted restaurants. Akkiko was very nice to me when I was making the reservation via email and was able to prepare a special menu for my wife, who is vegetarian. The restaurant is not covered by the Tokyo Michelin guide. As other foodies will gush, if this restaurant were covered by Michelin it would be awarded 3 stars in a heartbeat, as I will try to show and explain to you in my pictures.
What you get when you dine at this restaurant is an absolutely amaaaazing experience that will make any foodie jealous. It is not just about eating food, it is an experience, one that will be remembered for life. You will be wowed, all 5 of your senses. Watching chef do his finishing touches to each dish is like watching a magician putting on a show conjuring up magic tricks. Each dish is carefully crafted and so clever. Chef Yoshi is a genius!! The food looks so good on the plate. But the thing is, the food TASTES better than it looks! So here are the photos...

Finding Takazwa is a bit of a challenge. It is on a small street and there is no signage. All there is a glass door with the restaurant's name

Here are our menus for the night, which provides very brief descriptions of each course for that air of mystery. The descriptions sound simple, but the food is anything but. The food is complex and highly technical.

This is the bench where the chef plates up and puts finishing touches to dishes. It was more like a science lab than a kitchen bench top with the number of test tubes, blow torches and liquid nitrogen used. Watching the chef at work is one of the things that made the night special...

 Amuse bouche

Soup encased in a white ball. I had curry soup and my wife had pumpkin soup. Once you put the spoon in your mouth there was an explosion of flavour!

Amuse bouche 2: Truffle?

Actually it's not really truffle, only the slice is truffle. It is a croquette. My one had pork and potato. My wife's had potato only. It was soooo good. So crispy and tasty. A prelude of the brilliant dishes to come....

Course one: Ratatouille

A terrine of 15 different vegetables that has been out together to form a beautiful mosaic of colours. We were told to eat this in one bite. Visually stunning, yet so delicious. The vegetables are so crisp and have a nice crunch. There are a lot of different flavours happening here...


Homemade bread with rilletes made with pork from Okinawa. The bread is some of the best I have ever had! The rilletes, amazing! I am not usually one for pâté. But this was so yum, just tasted like spreadable pork. I of course did not let any of it go to waste so had a very thick spread of it on my bread lol

My wife's bread came with macadamia oil.

 Course 2: Powdery Dressing 

This is Suzuki (sea bass) from Hida region. The powdery dressing is Yuzu, up which created a misty effect which I unfortunately couldn't capture on my camera. This was a wonderful dish. The sashimi so fresh and the citrus from the Yuzu is a beautiful complement

Vego powdery dressing with local seasonal vegetables. A very fresh dish. My wife definitely got her fair share of fresh veggies for the day. Everything here was fresh and ordered on the day by the chef

Veg Course 3: Mushroom cappuccino

A special course that the chef has created just for my wife, which made her feel special lol. The autumn leaves are a nice visual touch. Serving the dish on a tree stump is so cool! There was a mushroom tempura and a mushroom soup with froth to make it look like a cappuccino. The tempura is not oily at all and the batter is very crisp. The soup has so much mushroom flavour!! Yum!

Course 3:  EZO venison tartar

This is essentially a modern version of steak tartar. Instead venison is used and sea urchin, instead of beef and egg. Also comes with a tuile, which was wonderfully thin and crisp, and lots of truffle.  

I was told to mix it all together and enjoy! This was so good, one of the best things I have ever eaten!

 Veg Course 4: Potato and butter

This looks like it is just a whole potato. Of course it is not. The sauce is Gorgonzola and hazlenut. There is also some slices of truffle.

The "potato" is potato purée with butter encased a casing made of bread. Potato and butter are a match made in heaven!

Course 4: Candleholder

This is perhaps the most clever dish I have ever seen. The presentation is brilliant. Looks like a candle...

... But not a candle! The 'candle' is actually a pear sauce with a rosemary petal for the wick. The dish is a foie gras creme brûlée. The aforementioned things are spread on the crisp bread to be enjoyed. The creme brûlée is divine! And how a savoury creme brûlée should taste like lol

Course 5: Breakfast at Takazawa 

I love this dish!! Such playful presentation. It's a slow poached egg with truffle, a prefect combination. This was served in a chicken soup for me and a vegetable stock for my wife. The 'cornflakes' are potato flakes. Absolutely delicious.  

Veg Course 6: Hot Air Balloon

An assortment of vegetables in a creamy sauce. Tastes so good. The bag helps retain all the favors, nothing is lost...

Course 6: Dinner on forest

This is my favorite dish of the night. Loved the presentation. The tree branch is made of cork and looks so cool. The leaves have been torched with a blow torch to give a smokey aroma, like a bush fire...

Wagyu beef cooked perfectly rare. So tender and so full of flavor!! Apparently chef has gone all over the country to search for the best Japanese beef. He does not want his beef to be too marbled i.e. fatty, which is what is found in department stores and commonly used by other chefs. Unfortunately I forget which region the beef is from, it's not of the famous ones like Kobe. Maybe Kyushu?

Course 7: Blue Cheese 

Of course this is not really blue cheese, it just looks like it. It is a white chocolate cheese cake with pistachio. It is sooo good, best cheese cake ever!

The cheese cake is served with a palette cleanser, a port granita. Wow! I can certainly taste the alcohol, what a nice palette cleanser!

The fruits are mango and grape and mango, both have been soaked in wine

Amuse bouche
Even the petit fours are absolutely amaaaazing...starting from the right: Hoji tea meringue, chocolate with Japanese chilli and salt, Yuzu marshmallow, kinako (soy flour) cake.
Dining here was such a great experience that I bought the photo book with some beautiful shots of Takazawa's creations over the years. Something that I will treasure.
With a message from the master himself. Thanks to Yoshi and Akiko for such a memorable night and the life changing dining experience!

Highlight: Everything!
Lowlight: Nothing! Everything was perfect. Maybe, the fact that we won't eating here for a while...
Overall: Best meal I have ever had, period. The food here has changed my perspective on dining out completely. No other restaurant I have ever dined at comes close to matching what we experienced at Takazawa. Service here is warm, attentive and not intrusive. Yoshi and Akiko are a perfect team and make dining here an absolute treat! Yes eating here does cost a heck of a lot of money, but I do not feel any regret whatsoever spending every yen we did here. In fact I am definitely going back here next time I am in Tokyo! 10/10