Parût en janvier 2011 dans le magazine Metropolis, bulletin d’informations en anglais pour les expatriés vivant à Tokyo.
Published in 2011, january in the Metropolis magazine, information bulletin in english for foreigners living in Tokyo.
Exquisite French with a personal touch in Ichigaya
Photos by Kohji Shiiki
Follow these simple steps for complete happiness: book a table along the cream-colored banquette or at the two-seat counter looking into the kitchen. Order a couple of glasses of Laurent Perrier champagne (¥1,400) while you study the menu.
Notice the clean contemporary lines of the interior, the crisp linen napkins the color of café au lait, the crimson carnation on each table, and the cool Mondrian stripes of the table linens in taupe, rose, gray-green and coffee brown.
Order a small plate of the meltingly tender ham, Le Noir de Bigorre, from the black pigs of the central Pyrénnées mountains in the Basque region of France (¥1,500). Sip more champagne.
Listen to the soft mix of classical music, Billie Holiday torch songs and other cool jazz as you choose a prix-fixe dinner set (¥4,400 or ¥5,800). Select the chef’s newly created entrée—his macaron of truffled foie gras with grape-syrup whipped cream. There’s an added surcharge of ¥1,575, but trust me—it looks like a confection and tastes like a dream.
Don’t order, as I did, a glass of the house white wine (¥750), although it’s perfectly delicious. Instead, order a glass of the luscious Jurancon Domaine Cauhapé (¥900) to match the matchless foie gras.
Eat your fill of the freshly baked stone-ground sourdough bread rolls served with butter, house-churned with a smidgeon of lemon salt and Piment d’Espelette. The genius of Chef Olivier Oddos is in his details—like taking the time to make his own butter.
For the main dish, order the confit de canard. I’ll forgive you, though, if you prefer the sea bass. I’m a fanatical lover of duck confit and have tried it all over the city. Chez Olivier’s version is outstanding. The skin is roasted to a delicate crispness and the dark, moist meat underneath is tender to the bone, which is neatly trimmed of the knobby joint for aesthetic reasons. It’s served with a spoon splash of bright green broccoli purée, a mound of roasted baby potatoes, and a roasted garlic clove en chemise—a sexy phrase for garlic in its sheath. Order a glass of the house red from reputable vigneron Paul Mas (¥750) to go with your duck.
Finally, for dessert, choose the panna cotta. Served in a large martini glass, this milk pudding is infused with eight spices that the waitstaff can rattle off in three seconds flat. I remember seven of them: cardamon, vanilla, clove, cinnamon, ginger, reglisse and black pepper. The pudding is topped with a red fruit compote of raspberries, strawberries and red and blackcurrants steeped in their juices with a hint of tart balsamic vinegar.
Smile. Linger as long as you like over coffee or herb tea