March 19, 2014

Tokyo 2014: A couple of Turks

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H-man and I have been drinking wine together for years, since the days when we used to work together for the same bank.  We don't see each other often, as he's based in Tokyo and I'm in Hong Kong, but there is always good wine whenever we meet.  Some of our more recent encounters included a dinner in Hong Kong to celebrate - belatedly - his 45th birthday, and our last meeting at a friend's place in Tokyo with some Californian cult wines.

We haven't seen each other since that last dinner in Tokyo, so we definitely needed to catch up while I was in town.  Finding a restaurant in Tokyo that allows BYO is never easy, but H-man is a member at L'eau à la bouche (ロアラブッシュ), which even has a basement cellar for members to store a few bottles.  So the choice of venue seemed easy this time.

The restaurant is housed in a historical building built in 1934 to celebrate the wedding of Baron Chiba Tsunegoro (千葉常五郎).  The style is Art Deco, and everywhere I looked there were works of Erté - sculptures, prints...

I was already going to be eating a lot over the next couple of days, so I took it easy and chose the lighter tasting menu "Chouettes" from Chef Toshiyuku Nakajima (中嶋寿幸).

Amuses bouches consisted of a slice of semi-dry duck breast that was smoky and came with a piece of dried fig, and a small onion tartlet.  Both were delicious.

Petits saveur apéritif - this was pork pâté with onions and Sauternes gelée.  There was also some rapeseed flower on top.

Bavarois d'asperges blanches au corail d'oursin caviar, médaillon de homard bleu et gelée d'orange - the white asparagus was very nice, and the bavarois very delicious.  The combination of caviar, sea urchin and blue lobster worked very well together.

Foie gras de canard sauté à la façon du chef Nakajima - served with young onion, panko (パンコ), duck jus and basil coulis.  The foie was well executed.

Poisson blanc poêle aux pousses de bambou accompagné de légumes - the fish today was gnomefish (クロムツ), which was pretty tasty.  There were slices of bamboo sprouts underneath, with fish jus, nuts butter and broccolini.

Noisette d'agneau cuit à la vapeur en feuille de "Sakura" et son jus court - the lamb loin was very nicely done, although I didn't seem to have picked up any cherry blossom flavors.  The cauliflower mash on the side was delicious.

Crèmeux aux épices savoie avec compote d'agrumes - the flan at the bottom was flavored with anise, the top was Japanese mikan (蜜柑), and there was pomelo on the sides.  Very refreshing and yummy.

Fondant au chocolat et sa glace à la vanille

Petits fours included vanilla macaron with a slice of black truffle in the ganache, chocolate with hazenut crunch, and cape gooseberry.

The focus tonight, of course, was on wine.  We were discussing what to drink and it seemed like H-man really wanted to pop open an 85 La Turque.  So I decided I would match with a bottle of 1990 La Turque, hoping that it would withstand bottle shock relatively well.  After all, it would be shaken up for a few hours just around 24 hours before tonight's dinner...

Henri Giraud Hommage A François Hemart - a little caramelized, still lively, slightly bitter on palate.

1985 Guigal La Turque - opened without decanting.  Minty, gamey, a little exotic, spices, coconut butter, leather, sweet on the nose.  Higher acidity on palate as well as slightly sweet on palate.  The wine had gone downhill 3 hours after opening.

1990 Guigal La Turque - opened without decanting.  Nose of exotic spices, cedar, coconut butter, smoky, leather, coffee, farmy.  Still kinda concentrated on the palate.  No doubt still suffering bottle shock from being in check-in luggage yesterday.

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