Il Ristorante Luca Fantin

Lunch – Saturday, February 2, 2019

A solo lunch afforded me the opportunity to visit one of Tokyo’s leading modern Italian restaurants, perched atop the Bulgari building in Ginza. I had pre-ordered the Menu Luca Fantin – their lengthiest tasting menu. Champagne (or rather, Italian bubbly) in hand and with a pleasant view of Ginza, the lunch began promptly.

Parmesan crisp, fig, spherified olives

“Textures of fish”
A very nice exhibition of Japanese seafood tinged with Italian flavours. Clockwise from top-left, it featured: (1) Japanese caviar on a squid ink crisp; (2) Fried whitefish; (3) Ankimo and balsamic vinegar on brioche; (4) Sea bream carpaccio; (5) Hon-maguro from Oma wrapped around a “puttanesca” filling; (6) Giant clam. The tuna and sea bream were particular highlights.

Hokkaido uni, tomato gelée, lentil purée

Japanese scampi, bergamot vinaigrette, wild vegetables
Fantastic cooking – absolutely perfect texture. The bergamot was also carefully calibrated so as not to overpower the delicate crustacean.

Ravioli en brodo
The dish featured truffles from around Mt. Fuji – I don’t recall ever having Japanese truffles before, and these were not bad. In the background, note the 3 dishes of olive oil to accompany the bread service – the two on the left were from Japan (quite rare, I’m told) and the last was from the south of Italy.

Risotto, reduction of wine, radicchio
The rice for the risotto was seven-year aged Carnaroli from Acquerello – their top-end product. Impeccable execution on the cooking – the perfect blend of give and bite.

Tuna collar, bitter vegetables, horseradish cream

Hokkaido venison shoulder, variations of carrot
The extremely tender venison was glazed with a deep, dark, chocolate sauce. A rather interesting contrast with the texture of the chewy carrot “jerky”.

An interesting highlight was two local cheeses – one a camembert-style from Kobe, and the other a mild blue. It seems like Japan has a way to go with cheesemaking, but I’m looking forward to how they improve.

“Pasticceria Italiana”
An array of sweet bites appeared simultaneously, in lieu of separate dessert courses. Clockwise from the top-left, I had: (1) sweet Italian brioche; (2) pine nut tartlet; (3) tiramisu ice cream; (4) raspberry and chocolate mousse; (5) cannoli. Fabrizio Fiorani, the pastry chef, made evident his skill with these.

Peanut monaka, pecan gianduja, Japanese pear bonbon

An excellent meal from start to finish. Every staff member spoke fluent English and the Italian restaurant manager was charming and ultra-competent. There were no missteps from the kitchen, and an abundance of true technique was showcased in dishes such as the risotto and venison. Further, Luca Fantin has the advantage of applying his mastery to world-class Japanese ingredients. It’s puzzling that the restaurant only has one star – I would rate it a strong two stars (indeed, above the inflated three stars held by San Francisco’s Quince). I would very happily visit again.

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