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Tokyo dining
Rebecca Stubbs
head chef the retreat at Chapel Hill Wines
images and text copyright © Rebecca Stubbs 2010

Tokyo, Japan is an ultra modern city full of ancient traditions, technology and individualism. Japan has evolved rapidly taking knowledge from around the world and applying it masterfully on its own soil. From architecture to food it is an amazing country to visit. During my two weeks stay, I ate far too much, visited the Tsjukii fish markets and Mt. Fuji. I took part in a tea ceremony, saw sumo wrestle and worked a week at Salt Luke Managan’s restaurant in Japan as part of my prize for coming second in the 2008 Lexus Appetite for Excellence competition

top — volcanic eggs and bottom — tuna auctions at the Tsukiji fish markets

Food for the Japanese is an obsession especially when it comes to quality of produce. Unlike Western diners they are happy to have less but want the best. Japanese see food as being more a ceremonial event that pays intimate attention to every detail from the service to the exquisite crockery. Ume–No–Hana restaurant was a great introduction to classic Japanese cuisine. Many courses of varying textures and flavours, an important factor in Japanese food, were served. Everything was delicious and beautiful to look at. The stand out dish was silken tofu – made at the table with a fragrant clear corn and king crab soup poured over with baby steamed fern fronds and shisho leaves to add as wanted.

above Daidaya in Shinjuku is a good example of fusion

There are many European and fusion restaurants in Japan. Daidaya in Shinjuku is a good example of fusion, their grilled foie gras with black bean sauce and poached daikon was sublime. Fragrant with a crunchy topping, the salty sauce complimented the fatty fois gras perfectly. L’Osier a Michelin 3 star restaurant that specialises in French cuisine, shows how adaptable the Japanese are with European flavours and textures. The restaurant is relatively simple, seating around 50 in a room tastefully decorated with art. Highlights include a dish of three types of clam diced with raw vegetables, Beluga caviar and urchin roe tasted of the sea. Fennel foam added a light aniseed flavour to enhance the dish further. Their petite fours trolley has an amazing selection of finely made sweets and chocolates to choose from at the end of the meal. The wine list was not as large as I expected but had many notables, the 1990 Alsace Riesling Grand Cru Hengst, Josemeyer was drinking beautifully. All the crockery at L’Osier is hand made by a local glass blower and every dish presented as a wondrous work of art.
It will be interesting to go back in the future and see how the young Japanese change the direction of their culture. Their want for individualism shows in the many genres and subcultures they have, the Harjuko girls and boys are a good example. Whether they will keep their traditions is debatable but Japan will always be an exciting and fascinating destination.

Rebecca Stubbs
head chef the retreat at Chapel Hill Wines

and the oh so cool, stylised young Japanese Harajuko girls.


Our friend Bruce Gueurin, Radio Adelaide digital radio 101.5FM food program Gastronaut is currently visiting Japan as an aid volunteer and has promised to send copy. So, stay tuned!
AO June 30, 2011






email from Tokyo

May 2010
Ann – we went to this wonderful restaurant in Tokyo – Esaki now three-star Michelin – $130 AUD per head plus drinks – 8 courses and completely divine, and, amazingly, largely fish (amazing that I enjoyed it). You would LOVE Japan it’s your kind of place i.e. food and design.
love Penelope

ps John found these restaurants on this site

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