Address: 2 Chome-26-4 Nishiazabu, Minato, Tokyo 106-0031, Japan
I reserved L’Effervescence for lunch and not dinner because our 2-day Tokyo eating schedule was pretty full. I initially booked L’Embellir but the lunch course menu was the same price and I couldn’t resist the outstanding reviews I saw online for L’Effervescence >.<
It was quite hard finding the location for this restaurant but with a bit of lag, my google maps got us to the spot just in time for our reservation. It was in a residential neighborhood but the inside was rather luxurious looking compared to its surrounding. They seated us in the front lobby before showing us to our table. Not surprisingly, the dining room filled up with the Japanese housewives lunching with their friends.
While the staff were polite and attentive, this restaurant seemed a bit cold and fake. I guess I sort of expected this because the restaurant seats 50 people, which is considered quite a lot in Japan. Nevertheless they were very professional and still offered the Japanese hospitality that one would expect.
We decided to go with the 5000 yen courses because this was my boyfriend’s first time in Japan and I wanted to show him that you get more bang for your buck in Tokyo than you would in New York City.
The amuse bouche was one of the best I’ve had at a fine dining restaurant. The (new) onion mousse was bursting with flavor, the foam tasted like the ocean (in a good way) and the sakura ebi (tiny prawns), tai (sea bream) and seaweed all added great texture to it. The vinegar gelee added the acidity to brighten the two three bites of this amazing amuse. And the natsu mikan (summer citrus) was the perfect palate cleanser.
We told the sommelier what kind of wine we wanted and we had a couple of glasses each of different white wines (embarrassed to say I can’t quite remember what they were but we there was a Sancerre and a German wine similar to a dry Riesling, which I requested). All wines were surprisingly reasonably priced.
The first course for my course (Un Detour or A detour) was hotaru ika (tiny squid) with udo (a Japanese stalky vegetable), preserved lemon emulsion, wasabi and Kishu ume (salted plum) foam. This was probably my least favorite course. I thought that the accompaniments sort of brought out the fishiness of the squid. I preferred the cold asparagus soup served for the other course (Quand la terre recontre la mer or Where the ocean meets the land).
The next course was the signature dish of L’Effervescence. The whole turnip that has been cooked for four hours. Our server pointed out that they serve this dish throughout the year because turnip tastes different each season. I had seen photos of this dish on Instagram and was keen on tasting it. It was the juiciest turnip I’ve ever had and although it was cooked for such a long time, it still retained enough texture. It was served very plain, with a parsley emulsion and some tiny croutons and basque pork bits. This was served for both courses.
The main dish for both courses were mainly composed of vegetables. Mine was a version of an apple pie. I’ve read that Chef Namae creates different versions of the McDonalds apple pie because it has a special place in his heart? This day’s apple pie was filled with braised beef cheek (loved the gaminess), foie gras, shiitake and peaches. This pie sat in the middle of a salad that consisted of 65 different vegetables, herbs and fruit! Apparently this changes depending on what is provided to them. Every piece was dressed nicely and I really enjoyed this dish. The braised beef cheek was exceptional.
Finally there was dessert. Sounded quite strange but the different components came together beautifully in my mouth. Green tea meringue with fava bean puree, mandarin orange ice cream, garnished with Tochiotome strawberries (some poached and some fresh) and fava beans. There was a bit of sweetness, a bit of bitterness, a bit of sourness and a bit of saltiness. The server told me to mix everything together instead of eating each component separately.
In the end we enjoyed some mignardises. Particularly memorable was the passionfruit caramel and the chocolate with melon juice and yogurt. For some reason they served us two espressos…
Overall our lunch at L’Effervescence was a pretty good value and we both enjoyed everything. It wasn’t one of the best meals of my life but I particularly appreciate his use of vegetables. To have a signature dish consisting of a turnip is rather amazing. The thing that disappointed me was that the Chef did not come out to greet us. Perhaps he was not there… but in my experience, all Japanese Chefs at fine dining establishments have greeted me upon departure. But I guess the lady who saw us off made up for it because in the name of true Japanese hospitality, she bowed and waited until we turned left on the long stretch of road leading away from the restaurant.