The Dirty Stall

Takazawa

Posted on: September 11, 2013

Takazawa is one of those restaurants that could easily get a couple of Michelin stars if they wanted to but instead choose to shun away from that limelight.

Well that’s a fairly common occurrence I’ve heard, there are many incredible restaurants in Tokyo that decided to forgo being listed on the Michelin Guide simply because they didn’t want that kind of fame.

And not that Takazawa needs to worry, their reservation list is usually fully packed 2 months in advance, which is also the earliest you can make one.

But once again, it’s another restaurant that I find hidden away with the entrance opening out at some back-alley behind buildings, like a portal leading you up to another world.

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Which is kinda true, because the interior of Takazawa is darkly exquisite. It’s a small and intimate setting, with just 5 tables, and you can just see the end of the room in the reflection of the glass, showing off the cooking “rostrum”.

Take note, if you visit Takazawa, remember to use the toilet because it is pretty cool. You get to use a $7k toilet in there too which opens on your approach and flushes silently.

Oh and the entire 5 volume set of the Modernist Cuisine is in there for you to read as well!

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Here’s a closer look at the cooking rostrum – very clinical and modern.

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The eating utensils were wrapped up nicely in a napkin, I almost thought it was a pouch.

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I went with green tea for my drink; loved the simple presentation.

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The first appetizer are pea soup globules. These were pretty much made famous by Ferran Adria of elBulli but it’s actually my first time trying something of the spherification process.

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Then followed by a small spiky glass bowl of fresh uni and squid ink sauce. Much points for the effort in presentation!

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And finally, a piece of mushroom and vegetable tempura, with matcha salt.

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Corn toast with pork rillette, made from Okinawan Agu pigs. Rich in flavour yet not too heavy on the palate. Something different from the usual bread & butter service.

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Ratatouille (2005)

This dish appeared on Takazawa’s first menu, back when they first opened in 2005 and were called Aronia de Takazawa. And it has remained on the menu ever since, becoming their signature first dish of the menu.

About 15 different types of vegetables are first cooked separately then combined together in something like agar-agar and finally wrapped in red cabbage.

The instruction is to eat it whole together with the fragment of salt and a lonely black bean on it. And what a start to the dinner, so many different flavours and textures swirling around in the mouth and on the tongue.

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Vegetables Parfait (2011)

This is basically Takazawa’s take on gazpacho. Like a parfait, this is built up in layers, starting with clear and concentrated tomato water at the base, followed by a light gazpacho, then topped with a medley of micro greens and flowers, parmesan cream and basil puree, and finally finished with a dollop of caviar and a crispy wafer of seaweed.

You’re supposed to eat the gazpacho with the toppings, creating a great blend of tastes, salty and sweet, and then siphon off the tomato water with a long straw. Utterly refreshing and ironically one of my more favourite dishes of the dinner.

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‘SPRING’ ROLL (NEW)

The presentation of this dish really pique my interest because I’ve never seen a dish that looked like this before – and it made me wonder how the hell should I eat this.

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It is basically a very artisanal version of a Vietnamese spring roll, as Takazawa-san came over to roll it up, exposing the peanut sauce below.

The kuruma-ebi was delightfully fresh and crunchy, paired with the piquant flavours of the herbs and flowers and the light peanut sauce.

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KOI NOBORI (NEW)

This dish was inspired by the koinobori, or carp wind socks, that are put up on May 5th to celebrate Tango no Sekku, a coming-of-age celebration for children but more targeted at young boys.

Honestly this dish was forgettable. It was basically something like a biscuit base, with a layer of foie gras paste and topped with radish “scales”.

The foie gras was quite mild, which is good because there was actually a lot of it so it didn’t become too cloying. But overall, more presentation style than taste.

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Harvest from TAKAZAWA’s Farm (NEW)

I was wondering what the next dish would be, since they gave such a long and curved plate, with a toothpaste tube filled with truffle mayonnaise.

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Well the dish was presented in quite a unique format, I call it the ant-farm style because it reminds me of those ant farms in the past, a layer of soil sandwiched between 2 layers of plexiglass.

The ‘soil’ in this case was fried breadcrumbs, in which green & white asparagus, and baby carrots, were ‘planted’ in it. As you pull out the asparagus, the salted breadcrumbs stick to them, adding an extra crunch and flavour to them.

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Reborn TAKENOKO (NEW)

I think takenoko (baby bamboo shoot) was in season in May, so I wasn’t surprised to see Takazawa serve up his take on it – steamed takenoko with cheese inside, served with brown butter & white miso paste mix, and bacon bits.

What a sinfully rich dish! Some kinome leaves were scattered across the plate, adding something sharp to cut the richness of the dish.

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OCHA DUKE (NEW)

I’m not sure if the spelling mistake was intentional since Akiko, Takazawa’s wife and the front-of-house, was very fluent in English. But this twist on ochazuke was simple yet delicious – puffed rice, sous vide salmon and a dollop of sour cream. Takazawa-san would then come over to pour in the broth into the bowl, and ask me to mix in the cream.

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TONKATSU SET II

This is a deconstruction of a typical tonkatsu set meal. All the usual components are here, albeit re-imagined: kurobuta pork loin, spherified miso soup, homemade rice cracker, cabbage veloute.

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Aroma of the Earth (NEW)

At this point I was so full, this dish was totally forgotten. I only remember it was a fish dish, meant to represent earthly flavours, such as the black truffles. But it really was a bit too heavy for me.

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Cherry Picking (NEW)

The name literally describes this dish – a small bonsai tree was placed on the table and I could pluck off cherries that were wedged into the branches of the tree.

These were probably the sweetest cherries I’ve ever had – not even a hint of sourness. And Akiko later told me that these cherries were extremely expensive and said I could see them in the supermarkets, packed into neat grids in their boxes.

A visit to Isetan a few days later proved her right – 1 box of these cherries was exorbitantly costly!

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Small little marshmallow birds were also stuck onto the branches.

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Little Garden of Fresh Green (NEW)

I really loved this dish, as it was presented in the form shown below; really like a little garden surrounded by foilage.

It was in fact a light cheesecake with a quenelle of green tea ice-cream. Very delicate and clean flavours.

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Akiko then brought a tea pot over.

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Gathered up all the herbs, micro-greens and flowers into the teapot’s strainer.

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And poured in hot water to infuse. Akiko advised that the best way to enjoy this dish was to pair each scoop of the cheesecake with a sip of the herbal tea.

The way the myriad of flavours from the tea and cheesecake worked together in harmony was sublime and made this actually the best dish of the degustation for me!

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And lastly, the mignardises. I can’t remember what the cat biscuits and mini logs were made of, but the pig head was sakura white chocolate and the green things were genmaicha meringues.

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All in all, a fantastic meal! While Takazawa didn’t exactly use exotic ingredients, he has used the highest quality produce to make exquisite and wonderfully executed dishes, in technique, presentation and taste.

The dinner menu asks you to “Enjoy Your Imagination” and that is simply what happened here: Takazawa has used his imagination to give birth to some really creative twists on classic dishes as well as new ones.

Takazawa

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2 Responses to "Takazawa"

oh gosh. AMAZING!!!

How did u manage to make a reservation?

You can actually just make the reservation by email! Just fill up the reservation form on their site 2 months ahead of when you plan to visit them. Akiko will then contact you back and she’s very nice to talk to over email and in person 🙂

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