Japanese have a saying, shokuyoku no aki, meaning autumn is the season for a huge appetite. It’s a time of year when there are so many delicious foods, many of which go magnificently with slow-cooked French cuisine.
Marking its 10th anniversary, Diners Club France Restaurant Week 2020 kicks off for a record long 20 days starting on Sept 25. During the event, 540 participating restaurants across the nation will provide lunch and dinner courses priced at ¥2,500, ¥5,000 and ¥8,000, including service charge and tax. Their courses consist of an appetizer, main and dessert followed by tea or coffee. Some restaurants add a drink.
I tried a sample course at one of the restaurants on the list, Le Temp Moelleux, located in a quiet neighborhood of Akasaka, Tokyo. Chef Izumi Tanaka is a genki (energetic) lady who has past experience at a Michelin star restaurant in France, after working at Shukoju in Yokohama and Restaurant Michel Nakajima in Kamakura. She backpacked along the Silk Road for half a year in a search for her “taste.” At Le Temp Moelleux, literally meaning sweet and comfortable time, you will be surprised at the fulfilling cuisine created by this innovative chef. Each show plate is a one-and-only made by Chef Tanaka's mother who is an art teacher, and now does ceramics as a pastime.
Foie gras parfait with narazuke and coffee crumble is a hard-to-forget amuse-bouche. Narazuke (or pickled cucumber with sake lees) has a crunchy texture and mature flavor that compliments the smooth duck liver cream, accented with coffee bitterness. Who would have imagined that traditional pickles from Nara Prefecture which go back to the Heian Era would be such an ideal partner for one of the world’s top delicacies. Tanaka will curate an inspired dish using iburigakko (smoked pickle unique to Akita Prefecture) as the focused Japanese ingredient for France Restaurant Week.
Bouillabaisse is not a typical portion for an appetizer. Tanaka prepares each seafood item - red rice prawn, mussels and red snapper - separately, then combines them in a soup bowl so that guests can admire each of the fresh ingredients.
Roasted French rabbit rolled with cutlass fish and pancetta with radish steak and kabosu sauce for the main course is a dish you will not find in any other French restaurant in Tokyo. Tanaka is famous for exhaustively using every part of the ingredients. On this plate, rabbit liver is garnished in a rare flavorful presentation.
I can assure you that even a non-dessert person can enjoy Tanaka’s white peach and herb salad, Chartreuse jelly, and white chocolate sorbet. The combination is fabulous and even after the generous portion, I wanted more.
Bookings for the France Restaurant Week can be made via the official website in advance, so try to enjoy as many restaurants as possible while you can, foodie or not. It’s a great chance while the doors are wide open to prestigious restaurants.You can take your date on a gratifying experience with less hesitation or you can even bring along your family at some of the child-friendly bistros. If you want to check out reviews prior to your booking, you can utilize the Tripadvisor platform linked to the event showing visitors' evaluations on the set courses.
Also on the list is Beige Alain Ducasse Tokyo. Their simplest dinner course is from ¥16,000 excluding service charges, but during this campaign, the course is set at half the price (Oh la la!), so you might as well take advantage of this opportunity.
Le Temp Moelleux: https://www.tanmoa.com© Japan Today