When I visited: May 2016 and February 2018
Location: Tokyo (within the Andaz Hotel)
Rating in the Michelin Guide: Not rated in the Guide
What to wear: Men – jeans or nice trousers and a shirt; women – jeans and a smart top or a smart dress
Ambience: Cool, slightly businessy
Course of the meal: Scallops and asparagus
If I could change one thing: Cheaper Japanese wine
The Andaz Hotel in Tokyo is a shining example of great and enthusiastic service, plentiful and quality drinks and food, and stunning views. The restaurant within the hotel, the Andaz Tavern, is no different.
In order to immerse ourselves in Japanese cuisine more fully, my partner Owl and I tried a Japanese white wine, which was lovely and quite floral, although pretty expensive (more than the European wines on the list, despite the relative costs of importation). For starters we went for a green salad with walnuts and an avocado burrata salad, which were both light and tasty.
Our mains were scallops with asparagus, and poached salmon with white asparagus and a single sheet of pasta folded with iberico ham. We noticed throughout our trip that asparagus is a key ingredient in Japanese cooking, and comes in yellow and white as well as green.
My partner Owl had a cheese board (not as comprehensive as those in French restaurants as it only featured goats’ cheese, although it was still good and also included fruit and figs) followed by a melon sorbet with yuzu financier, while I went for the mini éclairs from the bakery at the bottom of the hotel. These were a bit of a revelation – I did not expect desserts in Japan to be as plentiful or as good as those in European restaurants, but it appears that Tokyo and Kyoto in particular have really embraced French and Italian food and a good side-effect is desserts like this. There were six éclairs: lemon, pistachio, caramel, dark chocolate, raspberry, and yuzu. Yuzu is an ingredient I did expect to find in Japan, which has also been embraced by many restaurants in London recently (such as Helene Darroze).
We had a glass of Chardonnay from New Zealand to accompany a beautifully delicate starter of tuna nicoise with quail eggs and yuzu gel, and mains of lobster bisque and orecchiette pasta with Italian sausage and broccoli. I had actually ordered the mushroom risotto but the orecchiette was good so I didn’t really mind, and the waiter apologised profusely and did offer other options.
The waiter also recommended the chestnut creme brûlée with rum and raisin ice cream, which was solid if not amazing.
The Andaz Tavern is a good choice if you want Japanese influences rather than a full-on traditional Japanese meal, and the views and service elevate it far above the average fine dining establishment.