The Japanese’s obsession with French cuisine is not a big secret, as evident by shows such as Iron Chef and numerous Japanese chefs working in France’s kitchens. Fresh Japanese ingredients married with French cooking techniques seemed like the pinnacle of culinary perfection. I made it a point in my Japan itinerary (eatinerary rather) to experience the Japanese’s interpretation of French cuisine to the fullest. Luckily, the Michelin Star guide was there to help.
Having the restaurant as his namesake, Koji Shimomura apprenticed under the late Bernard Loiseau, the famed French chef who committed suicide on rumors of losing his 3 Michelin Stars status in his restaurant, which actually didn’t happen. Like his mentor, he prides himself by not using butter, cream, flour, or fat typically used by French cooking to bring out the Umami flavors in ingredients.
The restaurant itself was located on the first floor of a modern business high rise in Roppongi. I imagine the concourse would be filled with busy salarymen/women in peak hours, but upon my arrival for my reservation, not a soul can be found. Inside the restaurant, the dining room was clean, classy, contemporary, and cozy – a fitting atmosphere for its detour worthy food.
Amuse Bouche 1. Like any civilized French meal, I started off with an amuse bouche. A mini slider with prosciutto served with parmesan chips.
Amuse Bouche 2. I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t remember what this is. Something covered in squid ink?
Corn Variations. Popcorn seasoned by Indian spices.
Poached oysters with sea-water and citrus jelly with seaweed. A memorable dish, this was what Shimomura is all about. The simple composition in the plating hid the complexity of the flavors well. The firm, salty oyster was a stark contrast to the slimy, sour, and extremely acidic jelly. The mixture tasted exponentially better and made the flavors stood out. The crispy seaweed provided some much needed seasoning as well as contrast in taste and texture. Simple and elegant, I like it.
Harmonised of Sea Urchin, Carrot, and Beetroot Consomme Jelly. The generous portion of uni and clever use of beetroot in jelly form was what was memorable about this dish. The combination of these flavors and textures were bold and creative, but worked.
Sauteed foie gras served with stewed cochon. Having haute cuisine in a French restaurant without foie is unheard of, so this course was a must have. While the flavor in the foie lacked intensity, the creamy texture played well in my mouth. The stewed pork on the side made the dish much richer.
Crispy John Dory and Lobster wrapped in kadaif, broccoli puree, lemon jam. Another Koji signature, the fish and the shell fish was wrapped in delicate kadaif, a kind of pastry/noodle. A minimalist dish, it showcased the ingredients’ natural, umami flavors and it just needed that touch of broccoli puree to complete the picture.
Roasted challans duck breast, “Bernard Loiseau” style. The waiter explained to me in detail that the duck wasn’t cook in butter to adhere to Loiseau’s style, resulting in a very natural flavor. It was served so rare that it’s almost alive, but also so tender that made cutting effortless, something I was not expecting. The skin was seared beautifully, and its bacon-like flavoring complemented the meat well.
White dessert (Lychee, coconut, pineapple).
Cocoa variations (ganache, sorbet, cocoa water).
Mignardise, Black olives financier, marinated strawberry.
I traveled all the way out here and wanted Japanese influenced French food, and what I got was more than I bargained for. Japanese ingredients combined with Bernard Loiseau’s unique techniques resulted in dishes with clean, natural flavors. I still couldn’t believe that was done without any heavy sauces. Combine this with a modern room and exception service, this was an unforgettable meal worthy of Two Michelin Stars.
JAPAN™ Ratings: The average food and service quality in Japan far surpass the same we have in Vancouver, it is only appropriate that they should be rated on a different scale.