As a French restaurant in Japan, a big influence on the cooking here inevitably is the quality of the local produce. Liberally used by Bracaval’s brigade, it would be hard to think of any French chef’s perception of cuisine better suited to the high quality Japanese produce than that of Michel Troisgros’.
The Troisgros family has a long history with Japan. They travelled to the country decades ago, and brought back a number of products, and ideas that Michel still cites as having left a mark on him. With his own restaurant in Tokyo’s Hyatt Regency, he has the perfect stage to show how his perception of cuisine translates into the Japanese terroir.
The food of Troisgros is very much purist, and essentialist. There are no heavy sauces, no needless garnishes, no overdone presentations. Instead, products are served in a way that lets them shine, with a sense of lightness that is rarely found in French haute cuisine. This is very much the case in Tokyo, but instead of a Robuchon-like identical copy of the cooking served all over the world, expect creations that also bear the signature of Braccaval’s team.
A perfect example of this is Hokkaido scallop “lacquered” with vegetables, and a yellow wine sauce. A sizeable scallop is simply topped with balls of vegetables, and served in a pool of the wine sauce. There is nothing else, and the dish really does not need anything else. The quality, and cooking of the scallop are exemplary, with the vegetables giving an earthy, slightly crunchy component, and the wine sauce adding a bit of richness to it. This is the perfect symbiosis of French cookery, and Japanese product quality.
Even lighter, if based on a classic from Roanne are the ravioli al plin with hazelnuts, and wild mushrooms. The pasta is perfectly cooked, with a texture both delicate and firm encases, a puree that is packed with flavour without being heavy. Sauced with a light foam, this dish is almost impossibly airy.
The Bresse chicken with lobster jus, and turnips evidences that the cooking here never loses touch of its French roots. The poached breast of chicken is covered with a thick creamy sauce, to which the service adds a lobster jus. On the side slow-cooked turnips are the only garnish. This is perfectly executed classical French food that manages to feel a lot lighter than it should.
The desserts here are somewhat idiosyncratic. The enigmatically labelled “between the Andes and Amazonas” consists of little parcels of chocolate cream-filled rice wraps that come with shaved chestnuts. There is plenty of chocolate here, but despite being based on chocolate, and being warm, this is a dessert that follows the line of light, airy dishes that characterise the cooking here.
Cuisine[s] Michel Troisgros is a restaurant that serves an idiosyncratic interpretation of French cuisine. It is one of a handful of French restaurants that manage to serve dishes that are light, whilst never lacking flavour. Guillaume Bracaval serves food that follows the guidelines of Michel Troisgros, but has its own distinct personality, in part due to the quality of Japanese produce. For this reason, this is not simply an outpost of one of the big French chefs, but a rather more intelligent restaurant that engages with its location.