It’s Valentine’s Day and also my first visit to a Michelin 3-Star restaurant~ Lots of effort put in way in advance to make the reservation. At Quintessence, they take reservations up to two months ahead of the same date and only by phone at two 1.5 hours window during the day. Being a kiasu Singaporean, I was kinda stressed to find out that Quintessence was listed as one of the Eleven Toughest Reservations in the World by a website.
Although Tokyo has many Michelin starred restaurants, reservations is always a challenge. Firstly cos of large number of interested diners, secondly there are many instructions to follow in order to make the coveted reservation…
Count yourself lucky if you could get through the line~ Next, even if you get through the line, pray hard that it doesn’t gets cut off from the long waiting time~ (its a nerve-wrecking moment when you hear the ringing tune…) Lastly, if the call gets picked up, keep your fingers crossed that there is still available table on the date of your choice (especially as travellers we only have limited days in Tokyo)…
For info: I was so thrilled that I managed to make the booking that it kept me brimming for the rest of the day~
The restaurant also re-confirms with diners exactly 1 week before the reservation date. Without securing this re-confirmation, the reservation might be jeopardised…
We couldn’t get a dinner reservation in the week that we are in Tokyo (they are fully booked for dinner for the whole week)…but were happily counting our blessings when we could get a lunch reservation~ It was pure conincidence that they have an available table on Valentines’ Day!
We were pleasantly surprised that we had been arranged to be seated in a small private section of the restaurant, away from the main hall. Felt so priviledged =)
The maitre d’ presented us the menu, on the left side was an explanation on the concept espoused by the restaurant and on the right side was an empty page with only 1 phrase written “menu carte blanche”. Reason was that their menu depends on the ingredients available in season. So when selecting the wine we had to ask the maitre d’ for advice. He shared that most of the dishes would be seafood based hence more appropriate to pair with white wine. We chose a bottle of 2002 Jean Marc Boillot Bourgogne Blanc.
Lunch was a 7-course menu comprising of the following:
- Spinach with Sea Urchin and Sansai – This greenish looking shooter definitely taste much better than it looks. Its served warm but it simply glides down our throat in ultra-smooth fashion. However it packs lotsa flavours in the mouthful as spinach and sea urchin each has its unique taste but they complements each other very well in this dish.
- Goat Milk Bavarois with Lily Bulb, Sea Salt and Olive Oil – One of their signature dish, very special. The pure and white looking dish contains a myraid of flavours! I personally like the acquired taste of goat milk, hence I really liked this dish. Lightly textured goat milk when blended with olive oil and sea salt, its a test of your sense of smell and taste buds~ (This reminds me of another “white” dish at Attica – “Snow Crab”, also white in colour but similarly has an amazing taste~)
- Mushroom cake salé and Parmesan Cheese – Maitre d’ explained this dish as a savory cake that taste like Quiche. Liked the texture of the quiche which has a slight crust on the outer layer with a light and fluffy texture inside.
- Fish cooked in 2 ways served with Cabbage – 1st of the mains. I didn’t manage to catch the name of the fish though…Its the same fish but prepared using 2 methods: one is pan-seared while another is baked in oven. The foam on top is Sea Water Essence. One was a crispy skin with fully cooked meat while the other still had a tinge of pink in the centre (its fish done medium rare~). While I liked the crispy skin, I also liked the texture of the semi-cooked meat. No wonder its prepared in 2-ways, so as to allow guests to try both and decide for themselves~
- Slow-cooked Pork with Mushroom, Leek & Garlic – 2nd of the mains. The pork was cooked with much patience, alternating between drizzled with heated oil and then letting it rest (cooled) before repeating the process cycle again (for 13 times) taking more than 3 hours in total. It is through this long and arduous process that enables the Chef to attain the perfect texture from the pork. The pork was served with a very light accompaniment sauce (I think the sauce might have been “essence” collected from the melted fats from the pork as a result of the slow-cooked process?). It was a well-executed dish, however we felt that the intense pork flavour was something which we were not very accustomed to.
Finally our last 2 items, the desserts:
- Pineapple cake (or tart) with Coconut Cream – This dessert absolutely reminded me that its still Chinese New Year period in Singapore~ The pineapple cake tasted like the traditional pineapple tarts (with the fillings exposed type) which we eat typically during CNY. Coconut cream was a nice match to Pineapple.
- Meringue Ice Cream with Sea Water Essence Spray – Another of Chef’s signature dish. Meringue Ice Cream was covered with a thin layer of Sea Water Essence, making this a sweet-and-salty dessert. Intriguing taste.
We finished our lunch in about 2 hours and ended our meal with a cup of rich & thick coffee.
As we make our way to the lobby of the restaurant, Chef Kishida was there to greet us. We had the chance to have our pictures taken with the surprisingly young-looking (and kawaii) Chef~
We thanked Chef and maitre d’ profusely for the wonderful meal and expressed our gratitude for being able to visit the restaurant. The maitre d’ had relatively good command of English (for a Japanese) and was patient in explaining each dish to us. We also enjoyed our brief but interesting conversations in between courses with the friendly maitre d’. During our chat, the maitre d’ came to know that we were from Singapore; when we met up with Chef, the maitre d’ told us that Chef would be visiting Singapore from 25-26 Feb 13 (1.5 weeks later) to attend Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Award Ceremony at Marina Bays Sands~
[Updates on 26th Feb 13]
Quintessence was ranked No. 16 at the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Our heartiest congratulations to Chef Kishida~