Sunday, December 20, 2009

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon (Tokyo)

I had debated long before my Tokyo trip whether to make a visit to L'Atelier or not, although Joel Robuchon is probably the most influential French chef of modern times (some might argue that it's Bocuse), you never know whether a restaurant is really that good or whether its reputation is built upon name value and hype.
Because you never know until you try out yourself and taste is subjective, I decided to give it a shot. It was a weekday so my hubae and I managed to dine there without a reservation.

There is a patisserie adjoined to the restaurant.

The interior is a blend of rouge et noir (red and black), which I thought was an appropriate color theme for a French restaurant. The soft lighting made my photos come out a bit blurry.

We sat at the bar facing an open kitchen. It was astounding how quiet that kitchen was. No shouting orders, no conversations regarding the dishes; if the staff indeed talked with one another it was all done in whispers.

The bar counter. We went at an early hour which accounts for the semi-emptiness.

Hubae and I had two separate menus, so we could taste a bit of each others'. I had a kir as an aperitif, which was a perfect color match for the table setting.

The freshly baked bread came in a red "coral" basket.

Pre-dinner mousse. Forgot what the ingredients were; it wasn't on the menu.

The server cuts off strips of jambon de jabugo (iberico ham). Haute French cuisine is definitely not for vegetarians.

L'oursin (sea urchin) topped with cream of cauliflower.
Chataigne (chestnuts) in caramelised foie gras mousse. This was way too sweet for my liking. I like my foie gras as is or grilled.

Shiitake mushroom terrine. This tasted uncannily like fusion Korean cuisine.

Homard(lobster) with salad greens.

Langoustine(prawn) in crispy papillote. Cooked perfectly. I normally don't like fried foods, but this wasn't greasy at all.

Coquilles Saint-Jacques (scallops) on a bed of cucumber spaghetti.

Butter grilled scallops. The scallop comes out intact - I sliced the whole scallop before realizing I forgot to take a pic. We didn't have wine with the course (it would have been astronomically expensive to pair each dish) but I really wanted a good Chablis with this one.

Saint Pierre (white fish, have no idea what it's called in English nor in Korean, in fact). Great texture. Could have done with a little less sauce, for me.

Lamb filet with onion compote, rosemary, mushrooms and asparagus.

Lamb chop with mashed potatoes. A perfect medium rare. I usually like my beef extremely rare but lamb a bit more cooked.

Lime sherbet with raspberries and blackberries in gel.

Dessert! Marron (chestnut) meringue with bergamot, figs with white cheese and marinated grapefruit.

And strong bitter coffee, of course.

Photo of our reflections. Happy to be there.

The staff were super super friendly. They took their time to explain every single dish in detail. It was an interesting melange of Japanese, French, English and Korean conversation.

Hasegawa-san and Sato-san, domo arigato gozaimasida!!!

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon at Roppongi Hills


Julien said...

どうもありがとう pour toutes ces very nice 사진 !!!
(in reference to your last sentence...). :-)

Am living in Paris and i never visited the Atelier Robuchon's one in this city.
But, after reading your post, am planing to make it very soon!

A regular and enthusiastic reader of your blog,

seoulsuzy said...

Salut, Julien! ^_^
Please let me know how the "homeland" restaurant compares. (I'm pretty sure the wine would be less expensive.)
Happy holidays.