You know I love me a good weekend brunch and I most certainly didn’t skip the tradition on my birthday which serendipitously fell on Sunday. Tokyo has quite a few great options to offer (read Part 1 and Part 2 of my guides to Tokyo’s best breakfasts) and in the name of trying something new a bit more upscale for a special occasion, we booked a table at Jean Georges Tokyo.
The acclaimed France-born New York-based chef Jean Georges Vongerichten needs no introduction. According to New York Magazine, in the past two decades, no single chef has had more influence on the way New Yorkers dine out—or on the way, other chefs cook and other restaurants look. Vongerichten arrived to the United States in 1985, armed with an Alsace background and classical French training, and quite rapidly established himself as a highly celebrated chef not only on the local arena but internationally earning numerous accolades. At 29, he was awarded four stars by The New York Times at the Executive Chef of Lafayette in the Drake Swissôtel for his innovative interpretation of classic French cuisine. In the following years, his restaurant JoJo Best was named as the Best New Restaurant of the Year. Along with Alain Ducasse, Vongerichten has pioneered the idea of a global franchise based on haute cuisine. Besides New York and Tokyo, he currently commands restaurants in Las Vegas, London, Paris, Shanghai, and São Paulo.
Located at the foothills of Roppongi Hills along Keyakizaka-dori, Jean Georges Tokyo holds one Michelin star and offers Asian-inflected French cuisine that showcases the freshest local and seasonal produce, meat and seafood. JG Tokyo is helmed by chef Fumio Yonezawa trained directly under Chef Jean-Georges at his flagship, Jean-Georges in New York City.
The interior of the restaurant is quite sleek and refined – a subtle palette of sandstone, washed and tanned wood and textured leather dominating the space – with counter seats in front of an ultra-modern exhibition style open kitchen on the first floor and white-cloth tables in the dining salon on the second where we were seated.
After one too many cocktails the night before, all we craved was refreshing house lemonades: soda yuzu cherry soda for me and lychee raspberry soda for Justin. Both excellent.
While there is a carte dining option, we opted for the usual prix fixe tasting menu which started with amuse bouche of water grass mousse topped with bacon, parmesan cheese, and croutons. Refreshing morsel which was perfect for opening a summer menu.
We were also served the freshly baked butter scones – might I say the best I’ve ever had – alongside the in-house butter.
We proceeded with the restaurant’s signature dish – Egg Caviar. The egg is loosely scrambled, then topped with a Vodka-infused whipped cream, and a regal dollop of caviar. It was a decadent contrast of temperatures and textures, beautifully marrying velvety hot egg, silky cold cream and savory caviar in one bite. Quite indulgent and super delicious.
Next, we had madai snapper sashimi with sweet pea salad, buttermilk vinaigrette and a touch of lemon balm. It was quite simple and tasty dish executed very well, but nothing too memorable about it.
I did love every bite of the foie gras brûlée that followed, however. It was paired beautifully with slowly roasted strawberries and aged balsamic. Absolutely sumptuous.
For the fish course, we quite enjoyed the crispy amadai tilefish. It’s skin was perfectly crispy while the flesh was flakey and juicy. Overall, a very light and healthy dish complimented with a vegetable salad on the side.
The menu culminated with a rack of lamb with black olive crumbs, seasonal vegetables and jalapeno-pea puree. While it was cooked perfectly, to be honest, the meat was a bit too gamey for me. It’s just my personal taste (or lack thereof) towards this particular meat.
We finished off our brunch with beautiful desserts: Jean George’s decadent molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream as well as the petite fours.
A funny side story: regular followers know that we are huge fans of Janice Wong Dessert Bar and have been frequenting it for the past two years. We made friends with the sous chef pattisier Toshihiro Tanaka there (who by the way happens to also be a killer photographer) who, during our last visit in April, told us he was moving to JG Tokyo. That’s why we decided to book a table here. I was excited when he came out to serve a special birthday plate for me and say hello. Little details that make your day.
Overall, the meal at JG Tokyo was a very enjoyable one-time experience simply because besides the Egg Caviar, I was not blown away by any other dish to go back for.
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