You probably wouldn’t expect to find one of the top French restaurants in the world in Tokyo but to my surprise there lives a 3 star Michelin restaurant in Shinigawa called Quintessence. The head chef, Shuzo Kishida, had trained in top French restaurants in Japan for 7 years and then moved to Paris to work at Pascal Barbot’s L’Astrance for about 3 years then came back to Japan to open Quintessence. We were booked in for lunch on our third day of the Ultimate Tokyo Food Tour, I was excited to see and taste Kishida’s take on French food.
The entrance to the restaurant was more like a boutique hotel lobby (see image below), the interior design a mix of modern and classic with its neon green front door leading into a simple wooden lobby. The lamp shade had messages and quotes written on sheets of paper hanging down which was a cool way to display testimonials. Quintessence are quite strict on photography however Nick managed to talk his way into getting us the private dining room which meant that we were allowed to take photos, so here you go:
Above is the beautiful stone slab placemat engraved with Quintessence, each of us had a different coloured slab.
We were given the menu that was titled ‘Menu Carte Blanche’ which means something like blank card in this case blank page, there was no menu! Perfect if you like surprises. The explanation behind having no menu was so the chef has flexibility to use ingredients that are at their freshest or at their peak time to eat on the day. Everything is served fresh and not prepared the day before.
We started with the Soupe Chataigne which was a chestnut soup, lovely light way to start the course.
Next was a foie gras salad with edible flowers and also nashi pear and a French plum that gave it an amazing sweet and tart flavour. This was definitely one of my favorite dishes.
The above “cake” was similar to American cornbread, it went so well with the mushrooms and scallops on top with hints of dill to bring it all together.
Heading into the main courses, first up was the fish dish. Sawara (Spanish mackeral) was served with seaweed foam and vegies that were like gai-lan. The fish was so soft and succulent and went well with the vegies.
The second main course was duck which from memory had been roasted for 3 hours but during this time it would be taken out of the oven and turned over every 5 minutes, left for a minute and then put back in the oven. This process made the meat soooo tender, amazing!
Was feeling pretty full at this point but there’s always room for dessert! First up was the delicious ‘Tarte Coco Ananas’, the tart had a pineapple paste and that white scoop on top isn’t ice cream, it’s actually coconut cream!
Now for the big finale, the ‘Glace Meringue’. This was the best ice cream I’ve EVER tasted. It had just been made and placed on a chilled plate, this was not made the day before or earlier in the day, it was made specifically for our table – insane! The ice cream consisted of meringues that had been crushed and the powder formed was used to flavour the ice cream. For the twist, it was then sprayed with sea salt water once scooped on our plate. The salty taste on the outside worked amazingly with the sweetness of the ice cream. I’ve never tasted anything so good before.
Had coffee to finish the course, wasn’t quite up to NZ standards but was the best coffee I was gonna get in Tokyo lol.
Thank you Quintessence for a wonderful lunch that stimulated all my tastebuds!