Sunday, October 26, 2008

A $300 Lunch at Pierre Gagnaire a Tokyo

Le Grand Dessert, part 7

Not exactly something I would do very often! Moreover, the decor was very bourgeois and the ambiance was neither relaxing nor romantic. Everyone was in suit and tie. The waiters wore bows. Overall it freaked me out having the waiters staring at me throughout that 3 hours meal. Even though the restaurant was packed with businessmen and rich housewives, it was extremely quiet that I could hear Ced's SLR clicking away. Not wanting draw attention to ourselves, we switched to our smaller Canon powershot.

Seductive Food?
The presentation of every single course was artistic, a pleasure for the eyes. The chefs really worked hard to ensure that the colours, shapes and textures fell in their perfect place.
But later I realized the food portion was so minuscule. The smallest dish was just covering 5 % of the plate. This was the first time I encountered a French gastronmy this scandalous.

Given that Pierre Gagnaire is a three-Michelin star chef, I expected more in my plate! :) Food is more than just art. I'm not expecting American portions but neither am I expecting anything smaller than the French ones. Oops, I forgot my magnifying glass today!

Food ingredients used were a mixture of French and Japanese. Some include miso paste, seaweed, sea urchins and rice cakes. Pretty exotic for la haute cuisine francaise.

$300 per person, a la carte and no wine?

After putting $500 on my credit card, I picked up a $8 Japanese bento from a nearby supermarket that same very afternoon. I really needed that to satisfy my hunger.

$300 vs $8?
$8 bento is more like my kind of food. Brown rice with soy-braised pork, soft daikon and egg strips on the side. Traditional, tasty and filling. What else can I possibly ask for?

For those who are interested to try, taking a lunch set menu might be better for the pocket, starting at $70-100. Reservations have to be made weeks in advance. I did mine online.

Pierre Gagnaire a Tokyo
4F Aoyama Square Bdg., 5-3-2 Miani-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Japon (at Ometesando station, a few steps from Prada).

(Updated: April 2008):
There is another Gagnaire restaurant in Seoul that was opened last year. There is a local Seoul blogger from Wine Korea, who wrote an excellent thumb-up review about it, as opposed to my negative review. Looking at the menu from Gagnaire Seoul site, it had my mind wondering all over Asia. With an orchestra of unusual ingredients used in French cuisine, ranging from Kimchee, ginseng, Sarawak black pepper to garam masala. You can expect Korean citrus fruit Yuzu in the dessert choice. Yumm, Yuzu cha was one of my favorite Korean citrus tea back in Seoul.
A nice discovery of flavours, I would say.

Pierre Gagnaire Seoul
35th floor of Lotte Hotel, Seoul, Korea
1 Sogong-dong, Chung-gu Seoul

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