Alongside Aronia de Takazawa, one of our most favourite dinners in Tokyo was on Saturday at Tapas Molecular Bar high atop the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Tapas seats but 8 people and as with Aronia, reservations need to be secured months in advance.
The chef here is American Jeff Ramsey and – not surprizingly – the meal is a magical feast of many small dishes, each rich with molecular science. I can guarantee you’ll try things here found in but a handful of restaurants globally (see Alinea or L20 in Chicago; or the now defunct elBulli outside Barcelona). This is culinary theatre of the highest kind and – with champagne, bottled water, tax and tip – set us back about US$400.00 each.
Interestingly, rumour control has it that Jeff is in an ongoing legal battle with his original keepers in the US for ‘stealing’ the molecular mimibar restaurant concept and replanting it in Tokyo.
Dinner is a series of small plates with a level of percision and invention that is – in a word – unparalleled. Our special menu included:
This is red wine scented with spices and fruits. It is served both hot and cold at the same time. The left side is hot and the right side is cold. Normally a drink is separated vertically with layers of different flavors, and more recently, temperatures as well. This drink is layered horizontally to make it possible to taste cold and hot at the same time side to side.
This sushi is inspired by nigiri sushi, the most common ‘quick’ sushi in Japan. The sushi is not traditional sushi but a modern style. Rice foam, and soy sauce marinated tuna with crispy puffed rice.
Crispy scorpion fish two ways: The classic way to eat Kasago (scorpion fish) is to coat it with starch and deep fry it. It is done two ways here. The classic way and then a chip made with the same ingredients. The fish is steamed, mixed with starch dried and then deep fried to make the chip.
This is a lollipop of Foie gras with a port wine jelly in the middle. The coating is thin candy shell.
This is a re-make of a classic Japanese rice dish. Sea bream marinated with Kelp, with it is a capsule of sour plum and kelp tea (umekobucha).
Roast pepper Caviar
The technique employed is called spherification. The liquid from syringes filled with roast pepper juice and a seaweed essence called sodium alginate is dropped into a calcium salt water bath which forms small caviar-like gobules of roast pepper flavor. It is dressed with a thyme and garlic oil to finish.
Bacalao is Salt Cod fish. It is cooked with a little garlic and potatoes made in to a mousse that is the white part). Below it is a piquillo pepper and almond sauce. On top is tomato seeds, the best part of the tomato!
King crab and uni
Crab is steamed and topped with uni or sea urchin, the clear soup is made from carrot juice and Japanese dashi soup. Inside is a warm saffron tomato jelly.
Black truffle, Lily Bulb
Lily bulb is a Japanese Winter delicacy. It’s very creamy. It is the bulb or root of the lily
flower. It is made into a warm espuma (foam), on top of that is a truffle infused milk froth,
and then a chicken bouillon reduction, blanched lily bulb petals and sliced black truffles!
Lobster Potato Vanilla
Vanilla scented butter poached Maine lobster with a lobster jus filled purple potato gnocchi and chive oil.
Secreta de Iberico
Secreto means “secret” in Spanish. It is the best part of the Iberico pork. The meat is roasted and presented in a dish coverd with a glass to reveal a fog inside. The a la minute smoking technique is used here to present a smoky aroma that doesn’t penetrate into the meat. The smoke is burnt cherry wood aroma, and the cup is lifted to reveal the smoke trapped inside.While the meat only picks up a faint trace of the smoke flavor, the sauce below is infused with the smoke more pronouncably. The sauce is the collected juices from roasting onions
and red peppers in a low oven for a long time.
A lamb chop is presented here with a yogurt dip and a poached baby peach. The lamb is filled with lamb sauce, so the idea is to eat it all in one bite. It is a very juicy meat dish.
A A4 grade Japanese Beef filet is used and cooked using the sous vide technique. It is cooked
under vacuum at 53.5 degrees C for at least 5 hours and then seared using a frying pan.
Baby cabbage leaves, baby carrots, dried shallot chips and a borscht puree line the plate to
make the dish taste like the Russian beets soup- borscht.
This is miso soup. Spherification is again used to make this dish. Seaweed powder, small tofu and green onion oil. When it is all eaten in one mouthful, it becomes miso soup in your mouth.
This is the first sweet course, it is called puff. This is a passionfruit puff. It is frozen with liquid nitrogen and then served. It is very cold. You must bite many times with your mouth closed to enjoy. The secret to success is to keep chewing.
A diorama of a winter scene in Japan. Semi-dried persimmon and mascarpone cheese mousse with mocha cookie crumble, chocolate tree and a snowflake on the strawberry. The snow is made with a powdered white chocolate ice cream.
This is made in the image of a snow dome, inside is a apricot jam and a cocoa cake, with and
edible clear sugar dome covering it.
This is the French chestnut cream cake, served on a spoon to be eaten in one go.
Cotton candy with cinnamon pressed down in to a flat toast-like shape and texture
The raspberry soda is a disc made with white chocolate, freeze-dried raspberries, citric acid, backing soda and powdered sugar. It starts to fizz on your tongue.
This is a chocolate truffle with real black truffles inside.
This is the fruit course. Orange lemon lime and strawberry are presented. You are asked to lick a selection of fruit to guarantee to authenticity of the fruit. Then you are instructed to rinse your mouth with water. Next come the magic. The fruit is called a miracle fruit. The miracle fruit tells your brain that when you eat something sour, it tastes sweet. The effect lasts for more than one hour!
2) Glogg; 3) Sushi with rice foam
4 & 5) the Chupa Tapas – a port jelly centre surrounded by foie gras – OMG delicious
7) here’s how the caviar is made
21) here we learn how to eat ‘Puff” … it is a lot of fun and silly and even though I have videos of us doing it … they shall remain offline)