Monday, May 15, 2017

and Ecle by Olivier Rodriguez : Excellent French Cuisine at Super Affordable Prices

‘きよら’卵黄のオリーブオイルポーチ & ミモレットチーズ with ブロッコリークーリ
Poached in olive oil ‘Kiyora’ egg yolk / broccoli coulis / mimolette cheese


Gone are the days when one comes to Tokyo only for Japanese food because the city is a congregation of esteemed restaurants serving excellent French, Italian or other non-Japanese cuisines. It's not difficult to find good food in Tokyo but it's hard to find top-notched quality food at reasonable prices.

Alas, there's and ecle, a Neo bistro offering "classic French cuisine with a modern twist". But it's simply too humble to describe the food with these few words as the sophistication of the dishes warrants a deeper consideration. The ingredients are sourced locally from various parts of Japan, for instance fish are shipped in directly from Hakodate Harbour and ricotta cheese from Matsubara san in Hiroshima, then weaved harmoniously under the magical hands of owner-chef Olivier Rodriguez.

Having had numerous years of experience in Michelin starred restaurants, Chef Olivier joined Mandarin Oriental Tokyo opening team to be the Chef of restaurant "Signature" which obtained one star in 2007. He kept the star for 7 years before moving on to open his own creative Neo-bistro where gastronomy and innovation are accessible in an "eclectique" atmosphere.

It's a truly magical gastronomic experience without the confinements of rigid fine-dining. There was never a single moment of predictability during our dinner, only pleasant surprises dish after dish. The ala carte menu is broadly divided into starters, "Ocean", "Farm" and "Coulicious". The latter "Coulicious" is an original genre of food developed by Chef Olivier which harness the potential of rice/cereal using French coulis sauce. The sauces are made naturally using vegetables without any artificial colouring or additives. Partnering with Koike Tadao, the third generation owner of Harajuku's only rice shop of over 80 years in history, as well as Shouji Kokabu from Shiga prefecture who adopts a eco-friendly rice cultivation without any insecticide, Chef Olivier goes the extra mile to ensure that the selection of black, red, green, brown or white rice is of the highest quality in Japan.

With so much anticipation built up just from the menu, my partner and I decided to go for the Chef's 4-course and 5-course dinner as we were confident that Chef Olivier would know which would be the right kind of dish to serve for each course. Needless to say, it was the right decision.

I began with a hot appetizer of Kiyora egg yolk poached in olive oil. The mustard provided a wonderful kick to cut through the richness of the yolks and brocolli coulis. There's so much flavours going on in the mouth, racing to a brilliant finish with the cumin-coated bread crumbs which were more than just an accessory.

My partner's cold appetizer of Mr Matsubara's ricoatta cheese was equally competent. Contrary to the Kiyora yolk, this was on the lighter end of the spectrum with a refreshing green tomato sauce to liven the palates. The spring garden composition included the dandelion that was said to have health benefits.

Our appetizers were followed by the "Coulicious". The crunchy bamboo ash powder black rice from Shiga prefecture was a perfect match with the well-seasoned white asparagus coulis and sautéed bamboo shoots. The surprise element here were the toasted almonds which added a light crispness to the dish. My black olive gin-no-mikazuki rice was paired with lusciously tendered red wine beef cheek and "Hitomi-gosun" carrot coulis which had an inexplicable sweetness that soothed the mind.

The total of 3 mains that followed did not depart too far from classic French dishes but they were outstanding on numerous levels. In particular, the lamb was the most delicious lamb we've ever had in our life. The tricky meat is roasted-braised-poached; a rare cooking process that born fruitful results on the texture. Next to the lamb was an unusual sight of tartar sauce on lamb tongue, not beef tongue, and some tangy sweetbread. Genius.

Desserts were another territory not to be underestimated. Who would have expect a beautiful chemistry between tomatoes and coconuts? Or superbly airy chocolate mousse with balsamic vinegar and plenty of crispy nuts? They might not be the most complex desserts out there but each is priced jaw-droppingly at ¥900 on the ala carte menu.

Beyond the food, what truly touched us were the humility of the chef who went the extra mile to serve food to each and every customer during the dinner service when we visited. This was truly one of the BEST MEALS I've ever had and I can't wait to return to try his new menu that will be launched end of May.

This is what I call, food from the heart

LUNCH 11:30 - 14:30 (L.O)
DINNER (Weekday/Sat.) 18:00 - 21:00 (L.O)
DINNER (Sun. or holiday) 18:00 - 20:00 (L.O)
〒107-0062 東京都港区南青山5-5-4 LUCE南青山2F
TEL 03-6712-5018
Luce Minamiaoyama 2F 5-5-4
Minamiaoyama Minato-ku Tokyo Zip107-0062 Japan
TEL 03-6712-5018

Lamb roasted-braised-poached / seared romaine lettuce / thyme-flavored gravy & black olive coulis
Black pepper-roasted ‘kajika’ fillet / young onion & potato with sherry vinegar sauce

Cheese selection: Hokkaido Mr.Noya, Shiga pref. Ms.Tsuyako & Hirosima pref Mr.Matsubara Selection

Crémet d’Anjou / mango compote / dragon fruit coulis

Tomato & coconuts composition

Manate’ milk chocolate mousse / crispy nuts / balsamic vinegar coulis
Strawberry Parfait with Pink Peppercorn
Four Textures of Strawberries

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