Florilège

Dinner – Monday, November 20, 2017

We never made it to the original location of Hiroyasu Kawate’s Florilège – although it’d been on my to-go list forever, I kept pushing off a visit. The opening of their second iteration in Aoyama in 2015 seemed like the perfect push, yet it still took another two years. It’s a real pity we waited as long as we did – this turned out to be the favourite meal of our trip. A single menu is served – here is what we ate.

Eggplant mousse in its dried skin, shiso flowers

Oyster
Fromage blanc, red shiso, tripe

Beautifully poached oysters (I unfortunately didn’t catch the name of the variety) bulged underneath a sheer drape of vivid red shiso jelly. The presence of fromage blanc was visually subtler but its impact was not – the combination of the three components was stunning. Chunks of fried tripe initially seemed out of place, but when we had them, we understood – a brilliant dish.

Hokkaido scallop
Black garlic, parsley, mikan

The scallop was dusted with black garlic and grilled. It was still raw in the middle, providing that textural contrast I love. It sat in a pool of scallop cream infused with parsley oil – simultaneously rich yet bracing. The mikan, slightly sweet and tangy, bridged the buttery and vegetal components.

Sake lees steamed bun

Grated turnip
Karasumi, green beans, chicory

“Umami”
Shitake, cheese, autumn truffles

True to its word, this dish was an umami bomb. Sliced shitakes and truffles were piled atop a shitake chawan mushi. As if that weren’t enough, a Japanese rendition of Comté cheese was turned into a sauce for the dish. Amazingly, we were not overwhelmed, and I came away impressed at the kitchen’s ability to balance at the edge.

“Sustainability”
13-year old Miyazaki beef, potato, parsley oil

The meat was a carpaccio of sirloin from a Miyazaki wagyu birthing cow, dried and then served shabu-shabu-style with piping hot beef consomme poured over to cook it slightly. This was paired with a purée of hay-smoked potatoes, which amplified the flavour of the beef. An excellent course.

Hokkaido salmon and its eggs
Miso-cured egg yolk, wood sorrel, fish bone broth

Japanese guinea fowl
Sticky rice with miso, dashi, perilla and red wine sauce

The last savoury course came listed on the menu as “to share”. Some diners received roasted duck, whereas we received a plump guinea fowl. It was slightly pink and barely cooked on the inside, with a silky texture. Rice, so important to end the meal in Japan, made an appearance with a charred miso topping – fantastic.

Mikan granita
Fresh mikan juice, sansho pepper gelee, powdered sansho

Fromage blanc in a hot iron pan
Sesame oil, roasted sesame seeds

Peruvian cacao mousse
Caramel, whipped cream, cacao nibs

Candied gooseberries

Florilège hits just the right spots for me in terms of flavours and aesthetics – I’m hard-pressed to ask for much more. Dishes were well-balanced and execution was top-notch. I’ll also note that they had a superb (and quite creative) juice pairing. Hiroyasu Kawate himself was manning the hot station this evening, while also directing the rest of the kitchen (at least two of which are Asian-American, interestingly enough). It’s likely that our dinner will make it into my top 10 of the year, and I’d return again in a heartbeat.

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