Aoyama Esaki – My best Kaiseki meal so far

Aoyama Esaki

And so, this is THE meal in Tokyo! The last michelin meal for this trip was settled at Aoyama Esaki which has three michelin star. As it isn’t so pricey, unlike the other 3 stars, I booked it for dinner. There were two menus, one for 10 000 yen and the other for 13 000 yen and the difference is that the 13k one has abalone so G and I immediately got the 13k! And booking was done by the hotel concierge way before my trip and if you are wondering if that’s the usual way to book Michelin restaurants in Tokyo, I would say that it is more often than not the only way. It really is very weird that these restaurants do not make reservations for you via email but require the hotel concierge to call for you if you are a tourist. I guess this is done so that if you were to not turn up for the meal, the bill could be sent to your room. Like sushi Iwa, these michelin restaurants sign boards are never conspicuous. I was ready for that and searched for the smallest sign board when we were near the area. It is located at B1 along a residential side road.

DSC_0475So this is the path along which esaki is located at. The circled bit is its sign board. Lets take a closer look at it.

esaki 1And this is the sign board. Yes no English words, and G would have easily missed it. But luckily, I am hiragana literate and managed to spot it very quickly.

So, lets take a look at how well this 8 course Kaiseki meal fared. I would say that I was blown away by everything.

DSC_0429That’s the menu all in Japanese but could make out what some of them stand for.

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Clam risotto. Clear and really fragrant broth the rice is cooked in and the refreshing vegetables are drizzled with this slightly sweet and delicious strawberry sauce. Tomato was really sweet, fresh and juicy while radish is refreshing and carrot has a natural sweetness. Rice is warm, smooth, rotund and evenly coated with the broth. It isn’t soggy and felt very soothing as you can taste every rice bit. The raw ingredients themselves are already so good and tasted even more fantastic under the meticulous planning of the chef.

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Flounder served next is springy. There’s this saucer served with salt and we were supposed to squeeze the lemon juice into it. The fish tasted very appetising after dipping into the lemon sauce. very refreshing and indeed is a unique way of eating sashimi. The other interesting thing is that the radish is served with menthol leaf which helps to cleanse your palate and allows you to taste the freshness of the sashimi again.

DSC_0446Guess what is this? No it’s really not ginger, but is actually the potato used to make our potato soup. The waitress was really cute and she brought it out to show us. They must have known that we haven’t seen this kind of potato before and yeah G and I went wow, you must be kidding me but we always trust the honest Japanese.

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The Potato soup made from that ginger-looking potato. Really intriguing indeed. Soup was very smooth, slightly creamy with a tinge of pepper. Doesn’t taste diluted at all and is very flavourful. This dish has the fusion vibes I thought as it’s really like those more westernised soup. And there’s a thin baked slice of potato on top of it. Blown away by this soup and it was heavenly.

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Sea bream with nabana tempura. Again, what is nabana, I really have no idea but it is a kind of vegetable. I asked the waitress what is this vege and she immediately took out a book and showed me a picture of it. They are really well prepared aren’t they. The batter it is fried in is very fragrant yet light and doesn’t make you feel queasy. Tempura felt crispy while vegetable is slightly crunchy. Sea bream was delicious when eaten with the light but fragrant soup. And radish is really fresh while slightly sweet and soft.

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Next star of the night – kinki fish steamed in soy sauce with mint leaf on it. The meat is really smooth and has a slight creamy taste which goes really well with the fragrant soy sauce. You know you usually will scoop the sauce up and drizzle over those typical steamed fish during a wedding dinner, this fish doesn’t need such enhancement as the fragrant soy sauce has already penetrated into the flesh of the fish. Super delicious and according to most blogs, this is a signature dish which has never been removed from the menu. The meat comes off the bone very easily and melted so quickly in my mouth. I literally finished everything except for the bones, yeah I also attacked the fish head as it’s so soft and the meat come out so easily. I want to have more!

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The other star – Abalone with sauce that is soy sauce based. There’re yam and turnip in it. Yam was crunchy and refreshing while turnip is soft. The huge abalone was slightly seared. When you chew on the slightly springy yet not rubbery abalone, you would be able to taste and smell a light yuzu taste which makes one feel so blissful, shiawase ne(blessed). Fragrant and calming to the nerves I felt this meal is. Sauce is very fragrant and goes so well with abalone and the whole abalone is literally penetrated with the fragrance of the sauce. Umai! Black sesame was also added to further enhance the taste.

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The second last course is rice with ika and white sesame and spring onions. In a kaiseki course, rice is usually served last before dessert and it’s pretty common that it will be a simple bowl of rice with miso soup. However, this may look simple but such ‘simple’ dishes usually will put the skill of the chef to real test. Rice was lightly fragrant but super delicious. The taste lingers in your mind for quite sometime and every mouthful is so good, memorable. Really amazing! Ika is soft while rice is also soft, rotund and uniformly fragrant. Miso soup is fragrant and I believe that the miso paste is freshly prepared too.

esaki 3 Ichigo, ichigo, ichigo dessert. Yes, that was what was written on the menu in kanji, katakana and hiragana. Strawberry is so refreshing and naturally sweet. You can never get such good strawberries in Singapore. So red, big juicy and not sour at all. The sauce used is slightly milky and not too sweet but full of strawberry aroma. The milky sauce goes so well with the strawberries and make the taste more complete. Theres also a bit of japanese pepper in it which is quite interesting as it tinkles your palates a little. Very interesting to have pepper added to strawberry and it actually worked! Yummy! Jap fruits are always so good on their own! Strawberry is from shizuoka according to the waitress.

esaki 2And we ended the meal with coffee or tea. I really like the coffee set presented to us. Sugar looks like cheese doesn’t it.

And so that’s the end of the 8 course meal, which left me craving for more. Everything was so well executed, from the quality of food, to the attentiveness of the waitress and it’s service is really impeccable. It really is worthy of its 3 stars. They sent us out of the restaurant when we were ready to leave and kept bowing and thanking us when we were walking up to the first floor. I turned my head back when I was up there and expectedly, they were still at the door and I bade farewell to them. It really felt like Japan hour really. It was interesting to also see how Japanese dine in Michelin restaurants. While a private room was reserved for a group of businessmen, the Japanese lady at the table opposite us was going ‘sugoi’ at everything. Very fun experience here and it definitely is the best kaiseki I’ve eaten so far!

This will be the last post for my Tokyo trip for now and I really hope to be able to visit Tokyo again soon (perhaps end of this year) and visit the many amazing restaurants they have.

So, some last sakura pictures before saying bye to the Tokyo posts!

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DSC_0577Shiawase ne!

3 thoughts on “Aoyama Esaki – My best Kaiseki meal so far

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