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Monday, September 21, 2015

GAWA Day #6: La Tour d'Argent

I first dined at La Tour d'Argent in Tokyo way back in the 80's, when their Paris restaurant had three stars.  They now only have one Michelin star each.  However, a feud has been ongoing for two decades now.  Frankly, I think the Tokyo version is better than Ryu Gin, which has earned 3 Stars, and certainly, a lot more gastronomic than Jiro's.  Three and a half years ago I went to both on the same day.

The view from my Tokyo Westin room overlooks Robuchon, a 3 Star Michelin restaurant.  I've been there several times over the past two decades.  The Tokyo Westin is 21 years old and showing signs of aging.  Walking to the Ebisu Station to train my way to LTd'A, looking back, this is a photo of the current Beer Festival, with Robuchon and the Tokyo Westin in the back ground:


La Tour d'Argent is in the New Otani Hotel.  I noticed that their Trader Vic's is still there.  I once stayed here, and that was 30 years ago.  

During those days, across the street was my favorite hotel, the Akasaka Prince, designed by Kenjo Tange.  What a shame, but from the top floor, slowly, the whole building is being demolished.

Here is  the front entrance of La Tour d'Argent:


On the inside:


I ordered their mid-level course with matching wines.  The total price was a bit more than Teppanyaki Ginza Onodera, my $300 Japanese restaurant experience in Honolulu last week.  It all started with a Brut Blanc de Blancs La Tour d'Argent Champagne and a crispy lemon cracker:


Of course it had a fancy name, but the menu given to me was in French and Japanese.  Thus, I'll be guessing what I'll be having based on my memory.  The appetizer says something about Ossetra caviar and mushrooms with pamplemousse rubis, and the pamplemousse is just grapefruit:


It was artistic.  The wine at this point was a 2011 Monbazillac codier, a sweet White Bourdeaux, reminiscent of Chateau d'Yquem.  Unusual, but perfect.

A 2013 Saint Joseph Pierre Gaillard accompanied fish (replaced lobster) and soup with rissoto:



Next was a combination foie gras and duck:


Okay, but not fabulous.  The order of dishes was unusual.  No salad and soup in the middle.

I noticed close to me was their duck crusher:


I should have earlier emphasized that their specialty is duck, and legend has it that 400 years ago King Henri II feasted at this restaurant when it first opened, where canard became his favorite.  Today, they are noted for serving the premier French duck.


The wine at this point was a 2013 Crozes Hermitage Alain Graillot.  You would think, wow, Hermitage, must be really expensive. Well the 2012 version got a 90 rating from Wine Spectator, but the 2013 bottle, which I had, only costs from $12 to $20 in your wine shop.

The dessert was a forgettable mousse of some type:


Much too sweet, but well-complemented by an expresso.  The Cafe et Mignardises:


Now, these petit four specimens were fabulous.

All in all, I would rank this Tokyo La Tour d'Argent in the Michelin 3-Star category.  The service was efficient and impeccable, food excellent and well presented, wines terrific and ambience rich.  Someone saw me looking at the make of wine glasses, and he came right up and said Riedel, but the champagne glass was specially made in Japan, and was delicate.  The cost was astronomical, but about expected.

I do have a simple suggestion.  This so-called feud was initiated by a previous generation.  Apologize to Michelin.  Re-gain 3-Star status, and take your place among the best.

On my way back to the hotel, I passed through the Shibuya Station and the  Sunday night crowd was active and celebratory:


I happened to walk through one of those basement markets leading to my subway stop and took photos of a $200/pound steak and $60 fruit basket:


There is a kind of decadence here that you don't see in Hawaii.

Tomorrow, I'll be at the Sheraton Ocean Resort in Miyazaki, mostly to have their Japanese wagyu beef.  

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