[Tokyo] Florilege フロリレージュ - Asia's "One To Watch"
After my fantastic experience at L'Effervescence earlier this year, I was keen on trying more French-Japanese restaurants in Tokyo so I decided to try Florilege this time. Florilege is definitely up and coming as they have received 1 Michelin star and Asia's 50 Best's "One To Watch" award this year. Run by Hiroyasu Kawate, the restaurant reopened last year in a brand new venue and a revamped menu that aims to bring out the best in the ingredients from Mother Nature. As it was located in a basement, the restaurant was a bit hard to find as the signage was very discreet and we had to walk down a flight of stairs before entering the main dining room. We were seated along a giant U-shaped counter which surrounds the open kitchen and it was like a stage almost where we couldn't wait for the show to start. We came here during lunch time as it was the only available time that they had but we chose the dinner menu which included the full 11 courses for ¥11,500. I have heard great things about their juice pairing which costs ¥6,000 and it ended up to be a great choice - I was very impressed with the juice pairing and I highly recommend it to anyone who decides to dine here!
We were handed a printed menu and each dish seemed to correspond with a specific theme.
Our first course was a deep-fried croquette which was made to look like a Butterbur Scape. You're not supposed to eat the leafs though and the flavor was very light but not memorable.
The first juice pairing was a sparkling grape juice which was a bit too sweet for me.
Things picked up quickly though and the Sardine with onion sherbet and fermented saba infused pasta turned out to be one of the best dishes of the night! I loved the use of turning onion into a sherbet which balanced the flavors of the sardine with a refreshing mouth feel.
The juice pairing with Tomato Water was one of my favorites as well as it played with your senses! The glass with the tomato water had hibiscus powder on it and the floral aroma went perfectly with the juice and the food as well.
We were then served a Mantou as our bread course which was an interesting choice considering this is a French restaurant.
I loved the light and delicately sweet flavors of the White Asparagus with white asparagus mousse, chartreuse) and sakura petals, and we were told to please think of Spring while eating this.
Most of the juice pairing I've had were just served in a glass so I was pleasantly surprised when the delicious Yogurt and Pear juice pairing was served in a wooden sake box.
Fried Soft Shelled Turtle with egg and a portion of the softest part of the turtle.
I liked that the juice pairing didn't limit themselves to juice as the pairing for the turtle dish was a Houjicha with shiitake mushrooms while the flavors worked very well as well.
The Foie Gras was paired with sansai (mountain vegetables) and a sponge cake made from rapeseed flowers cake with sour cream in the center. I wasn't so keen on this dish though as the foie gras wasn't caramelized enough so it felt really fatty to eat.
The Strawberry juice pairing with rosemary and white vinegar was perfection though as the acidity of the drink helped to cut into the fattiness of the foie gras.
The Beef was served with potato mousse and apple sorbet while the beet and vegetables consomme was poured in front of us. It's not that this didn't taste good but I wonder if there is a better way to bring out the flavors of the beef more.
The juice pairing for the beef was mixed in front of us with a mixture of Sangria, basil, mint and coriander.
The deep-fried Oyster with seaweed and lemon meringue drops was served with a shot of oyster soup on the side. Not all of the dishes worked for me here but this was one of them that absolutely did.
The juice pairing for the oyster was Coconut with soy milk.
The meat dish was a Roasted Agu Pork covered with a mixture of mochi rice, onion and miso plus tomato sauce on the side. It seemed to be a twist on the classic Japanese Chaliapin Steak but with pork instead of beef. I liked the pan-fried mochi rice and onion mixture which added a crunchy mouth feel to the dish.
The juice pairing was an Amazake (a traditional sweet Japanese drink made with fermented rice) and Matcha. The drinks were meant to be drank alternatively but while I liked the amazake, I didn't think this juice pairing worked as well as the others previously.
We moved on to desserts and our first was a Passion Fruit filled with passion fruit smoothie and lime mint jelly. I loved the dessert since I love passion fruit but I thought it was rather hard to get to the last bits of the smoothie with the straw - it would have been better if a spoon had been given instead.
The second dessert was a Peanut pudding with yogurt, sake and sherbet where we were supposed to mix everything together to eat.
The last dessert was Mugwort crispy wafers with amanatsu ice cream. To be honest, I thought that the dessert courses here were the weakest dishes in terms of presentation and taste out of the whole meal.
After the end of our meal, we were given a choice of oolong tea, matcha, coffee and herbal tea. I chose the Oolong tea which was prepared in front of me with care and preciseness.
Our last parting gifts were these Strawberries coated with a layer of syrup.
Overall, I was more impressed with the juice pairing at Florilege than I was with the food which I felt was not as impressive as L'Effervescence. The meal also took around 3 hours which was a bit long for the number of dishes due to the long lag time in between the courses. However the chef is still young and I think it's only a matter of time before he can improve his food to match the level of his juice pairing.
2-5-4 Jingumae Shibuya Tokyo
東京都 渋谷区 神宮前 2-5-4 SEIZAN外苑 B1
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