Posted August 7, 2011on:
Ristorante Aso looks like it could have been plucked straight out of any Italian town and placed in the trendy Daikanyama district. This Michelin 2 star restaurant is the flagship for chef Tatsuji Aso and it’s also said to be one of the best Italian restaurants in Tokyo.
The interior has a classical old-fashioned feel to it but with some modern refinements to it.
This is a blur photo of the rather pretty waitress who attended to me all the way, it seems like they assign 1-2 staff fully to each table. Service was excellent as well; they don’t intrude on you but they’re always there in case you need them.
Not just one but three types of butter is provided for the bread service. From left to right: salted, olive, smoked. The butters were made in-house and so creamy, I especially loved the smoked butter.
Their bread service was an astonishing 7 different types of bread. Once again baked in-house, from left to right: rosemary, black olive, tomato, croissant, onion, anchovy. Grissini in front of them. I ate each piece of bread while waiting for each course.
A starter of white asparagus and foie gras mousse. A light and fresh way to begin the meal!
A “salad” of scallops and prawns with orange jelly and pureed avocado. A very simple dish but the focus was really on the freshness of the seafood – you could really taste the natural sweetness in them.
A recurring theme that I would notice in their dishes is the generous usage of mousses and foams, perhaps their chef was really inspired by Ferran Adrià. But I felt that some of it was just extraneous and not really contributing to the dish.
Now this next dish actually looked what the salad course should have been but it was the pasta course….but where was the pasta?
It was all in this tall glass tumbler.
I was instructed by the waitress to pour it over that salad-like dish and mix it up, where the foam broke down to became a light sauce covering the pasta. So it was actually tomato spaghetti with wild mushrooms and raw tuna, and very delicious! Once again the emphasis was on the quality of the ingredients.
Next came the fish course, for which they wheeled a large Dutch oven over to the table.
The waitress opened it to reveal a really hot stone inside.
She placed the parsley on top of the stone.
Then put the fish fillets on the bed of parsley.
Water was poured inside which turned into steam straightaway.
The Dutch oven was covered and the sand timer was turned to start the steaming.
And the fish is ready after a couple of minutes!
At the side they prepared some prosciutto.
And here’s the combination of all that: fish fillet wrapped in prosciutto with a herb butter sauce. The texture of the fish was so smooth and tender, and the flesh flaked away so easily as well.
The fish had a subtle hint of parsley but the prosciutto and sauce contributed the rest of the flavours to the dish. Great match of fish and ham!
The meat course was something really unique; it was a sauteed beef sausage filled with beef mousse on risotto, with asparagus mousse, grated red peppercorns and young sakura petals. Once again with the mousses!
I have to say that this is probably one of the most tender sausages I have ever eaten, probably due to the fact it had a beef mousse filling inside, but also because I think they poached the sausage rather than grilling or frying it.
The beef flavours was also more subtle than I expected and it went pretty well with the risotto and asparagus mousse. The theme of light but complementing flavours was another recurring theme, but one that’s better than the mousse and foam theme.
The grated red peppercorns and sakura petals also just added tiny bursts of strong and subtle tastes to the whole dish as well.
A pineapple sherbert with pineapple mouse as a palate cleanser. Not much to say except it tastes like pineapple (duh) and was quite refreshing.
My dessert course was Aso’s version of a strawberry shortcake with vanilla ice-cream and vanilla foam. By this point I was getting a bit tired of the whole foam thing but I have to say that the strawberry “shortcake” had some really juicy strawberries and a savoury shortcrust. So don’t get me wrong, it was still a great dessert!
Their presentation of the mignardises was just so beautiful! I really can’t remember exactly what was on it but they had cookies, marshmellows, biscuits, puffs and gums.
After the lunch, the waitress gave a tour of the courtyard.
Apparantely they have bookings for weddings here almost every week!
The corridor that leads out of the restaurant, sad to leave a place where I had just eaten the best Italian food so far (with a Japanese touch).
29-3 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo