Sunday, December 23, 2007

Japan 2007: Brasserie Paul Bocuse Le Musée



For my first proper post from Japan, let me start with something decidedly un-Japanese - Lunch at Brasserie Paul Bocuse Le Musée.

Brasserie Paul Bocuse Le Musée
3rd Fl., The National Art Center Tokyo
7-22-2 Roppongi
Minato-ku, Tokyo
JAPAN
Website


This Brasserie, Bocuse's first overseas branch, is located in The National Art Center of Tokyo, a short walk from Roppongi station in the trendy district of the same name. I was recommended to this restaurant by a good friend of mine, who ate there whilst was living in Tokyo earlier in the year. They have a fantastic lunch special - 3 courses for ¥2,500, which translates to a bargainous $28. They also have a ¥1,800 lunch set, where the 2 courses are chosen for you. On this day, the set was roast beef with potatoes, followed by crème brûlée. A fabulous choice if you are not hungry or want to save a few hundred yen.

I went there on my second last day in Tokyo. I was alone in the city, with Sandra having left for Germany a couple of days ahead of me, and needed to kill time. One of the great things about dining in Japan is that you can walk into any restaurant, ask for a table for one, and have it be considered completely normal. Whether it be at a cheap noodle joint with a communal bar, or a swanky European restaurant in Ginza, solo-diners in Japan are numerous and well catered-for.


Now, back to this particular restaurant. The Brasserie does not accept lunch reservations, and as such, there is always a massive queue. The wait can be minimised if you arrive early (11am is recommended), and if you don't mind sharing a table. Now, I thought this meant sitting on a long communal table, or at a bar, but when I was ushered to my seat, it turned out that I was sandwiched between 2 Japanese couples (older, wealthier, definitely classier), on a small round table. Eek! Thank goodness, they didn't try to make conversation with me, and just politely let me enjoy my lunch. What did I tell you about solo diners in Japan? Normal! Not weird or pitiable at all.
The diners at my table didn't even bat an eyelid when I started taking photos of my food.

Pommery champagne. ¥1,300.
Cauliflower Soup. Richly flavoured and very creamy.
I thought the presentation of the croutons was incredibly cute! You'll notice a basket of crusty baguette in the background, and my own reflection in the spoon.
Coq au vin bourguignon. The portion was very small, but so intensely flavoured that it was the perfect amount. Tender meat, falling off the bone, with a deep, dark sauce, pieces of bacon, onion and mushroom. It reminded me of my much-loved dinner party staple, Nigella's Pheasant with Gin and IT.

For dessert, I couldn't go past the crème brûlée.

Tap, tap, crack.

Sinking into the velvety depths, completely contented after a perfect lunch...


Thank-you to Markii for the brilliant recommendation! For those of you who make it out there, I'll pass on your thanks to him too.

5 comments:

Lisa said...

Mmmmmmm -- looks like a perfect meal.

Mark said...

I'm so happy that you liked the place! And how amazing is the architecture in the National Centre?! I was very impressed. Pretty weird spot for his first venture outside of France, non?

I'd love to eat there again!

Ed said...

That's what I call creme brulee. How many Michelin stars have you now left to eat in Tokyo?

Sarah said...

Hi guys!

Mark - the building was gorgeous! I loved the setting of the brasserie too, right on top of that cone thing. (Yes, that's the technical term). It was so light and airy and spacious!

Ed - that was my only big expensive meal in Tokyo (apart from a Kaiseki in Nikko, but I lost the photos for that one!!) Everything else was $5 noodles, convenience stores, cheap and nasty restaurants and the occasional fancy cake in a department store. Next time!

Mark said...

I suppose your photos of Kaiseki in Nikko would've looked something like this:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/markii187/1682451026/in/set-72157602594442260/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/markii187/1681596457/in/set-72157602594442260/

This was taken at the Green Hotel in Nikko also! :D