December 6, 2018

Japan 2018 day 6: strolling around Harajuku

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After we got up this morning, Hello Kitty and I went a little bit further than the convenience store downstairs for her morning coffee.  She has been following the Instagram account behind Reissue for a while, and she didn't object when I suggested that we get our latte on the other side of town.

At first glance the pricing for a cup of coffee seems pretty steep, but what one pays for here isn't an ordinary cup of coffee.  This place is famous for their latte art - which can be either 2D or 3D.  Hello Kitty and I each showed George an image, and he went to work.

So... my cup came with a 3-D rendition of our dog Kuma, interpreted from a picture where he was crouching down looking for a butt-scratch.  Hello Kitty, to my surprise, wanted one of Korilakkuma (コリラックマ) showing us her butt...

Here's another look at Korilakkuma.  George actually posted a picture of it on his IG account.

The space is pretty nice and relaxing, with an old leather couch in front of bookshelves displaying the vinyl collection as well as a couple of turntables and vacuum tube amps.

Having gotten our morning dose of caffeine, we made our obligatory stop at Kiddy Land for (what else?) Rilakkuma and Gudetama goodies.  Then we looped around the eastern side of Omotesando and walked over to our lunch venue.

Florilège sits in the basement of a building, where diners sit at a large, C-shaped counter facing the central, open kitchen.  Like L'Effervescence, it's a place highly recommended by a number of my friends, and I actually did have opportunity to share one of Seventh Son (家全七福)'s famous suckling pig with chef owner Kawate Hiroyasu (川手寛康) last month.

Sweet potato - the "sweet potatoes" have a crispy batter on the outside, with purple and yellow sweet potato mash inside.  They were smoked with houjicha (焙じ茶) and buried in a pile of leaves.

Scallops, konbu - basically a "millefeuille" with alternating slices of scallops and radish (or turnip), with perilla leaves, dill, and konbu (昆布) powder.  Garnished with flowers and finger lime. Served with a cylinder of sweet fromage blanc and acidic lemon citrus cream on top.

The scallops were basically raw, and very sweet.  I was ever so grateful that the finger lime didn't deliver too much overpowering acidity.

The steamed bun was made with sake lees (酒粕).

Sustainability: beef - apparently the beef comes from older cattle around 7 or 8 years old, and the beef seemed almost raw, and we wondered whether it was slow-cooked.  It also tasted reasonably salty like it had been salted or cured.  There was smoked mashed potatoes which came pretty runny and creamy, along with beef consommé that had been thickened.  We've got a mixture of herbs like parsley, chervil, and tarragon on top.

Shiitake-mushrooms - wrapped inside the cabbage was Japanese softshell turtle (スッポン), with some oscietre caviar on top adding some flavors from the sea.  We also had wild shiitake topped with some sansho leaves (木の芽).  Served with some turtle soup.

Pacific saury - this was an extra dish from Kawate-san.  Pacific saury (秋刀魚) had been rolled up and topped with some salmon roe, and dressed with purée of chrysanthemum greens (春菊) and sauce made with the liver of Pacific saury.  Very, very tasty... with strong flavors coming from both the fish and the liver.  The green shoots on top were a little earthy, and I wondered whether those were pea shoots.

To share - we were first shown this guinea fowl before it was taken away for "further processing"...

When this came back, there were clusters of "miso rice" on top, which turned out to be glutinous rice cooked in miso.  There was some jus, dashi (出汁) sauce, as well as Korean perilla (荏胡麻) sauce.

Take a look at that delicious layer of fat underneath the paper-thin, crispy skin.  And the meat?  O-M-G.  It was soooo tender that I wondered whether I was eating tofu, but it wasn't mushy like those crappy Hainanese chicken rice I keep having in Singapore.  It also wasn't dry, which is sometimes the case.  A damn good dish.  Hello Kitty was very, very impressed.  So was I.

Tarte tatin - we've got caramelized apples at the bottom, and vanilla ice cream "snow" frozen by liquid nitrogen on top.  I think Hello Kitty was happy...

Gift: Amazon cacao - this was practically a Japanese-style omelette, except that it was made of chocolate.  Wonderful caramel filling in the middle, and came with an espresso sauce as well as chantilly.  Lip-smacking good.

Candied cape gooseberry.

No surprise that the ladies wanted to drink... so I dutifully picked out a bottle of Champagne.

2011 Chartogne-Taillet Chemin de Reims, dégorgée en juin 2018 - you knew this was a chardonnay, and definitely pretty powerful on the palate... not light at all.  Toasty notes and a good match with the food.  Once in a bigger glass, the nose turned fragrant and floral.

This was a very good lunch with many hits.  It's no wonder that this was Hello Kitty's favorite meal so far... and an incredible bargain, too!  I could see why this place has been so popular.  Many thanks to Kawate-san and the team for taking such good care of us.

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