It’s already December, and that can only mean one thing – the release of the new Tokyo Michelin guide. As usual, I was excited to see which new restaurants were added and which restaurants received a promoted number of stars.
One restaurant that stuck out was Abysse, a French fusion restaurant that opened only half a year ago or so. They serve no meat dishes and instead showcase the wonderful seafood that Japan has to offer.
At around 9500 yen for the course menu, it is one of the more reasonable restaurants featured in the prestigious (pretentious?) guide. I quickly made a reservation on their convenient online reservation system. What followed was an artfully prepared and delicious 10 courses unfortunately marred by two glaring mistakes in service. I have detailed these complaints below the photos of the delicious food.
Let’s eat Abysse!
The amuse bouche was a sable cookie in the shape of Abysse’s fish logo, flavored with seaweed and served on a bed of poppy seeds. Next to that is a hirame (flounder) carpaccio served in a passion fruit and olive oil mixture. A nice refreshing start to the meal, and a rather large amuse at that.
Next was an appetizer consisting of raw mushroom and scallops served on top of a flaky pie crust with creme fraiche. Garnished with caviar and citrus fruits. Another nicely portioned, refreshing, and absolutely delicious dish.
Next was our favorite dish of the course. Elegantly simple, but so very tasty. This is sawara (Spanish mackerel) served in a sauce created by mixing together spinach and oysters. Served oh-so gently cooked, almost raw, and just amazing.
Foie gras flan served with uni in a Kyoto carrot sauce with micro-celery and rum raisin. The only use of meat in the whole course.
Abysse’s signature dish- a bisque made from 7 different fish, lobster, various spices, and an entire orange (peel and all). Very deep ocean flavor that you can taste in three distinct movements: seafood, a spicy kick, orange citrus.
The bisque is served with a very flavorful couple of bites- toast topped with potato aioli and parmesan cheese.
The main dish was two different kinds of tai (snapper) fish- amadai and kinmedai served with an onion and white soy sauce.
Next was the cheese course. God I love cheese courses. A blue goat cheese on the left and a fancy kind of brie style cheese. I don’t remember the detail. Oops.
The first dessert was a rosemary and strawberry blancmange. Creamy, tart, and very good.
Aaaand I forgot to take a picture of the second dessert! Amateur error. But here is a cropped photo of the 2nd dessert- vanilla ice cream atop a chocolate mousse with kinkan (a Japanese citrus fruit with edible skin) in the center.
Coffee and petit-four of white chocolate with dried pineapple center atop white chocolate shavings. Served to resemble pearls in its shell in keeping with the restaurant’s “deep sea” theme.
Allow me to vent a little bit regarding some mistakes with the restaurant’s service.
First, between two of the courses I needed to use the restroom. When I came back, I was surprised to find that the next course had already been served and, according to my wife, the staff had started explaining the dish to only her. She had to kindly ask them to wait until I came back to the table to receive the explanation.
Next was a more unforgivable misstep. The small restaurant can only hold around 20 people. The last table is set in a private room where during our visit, 3 young men and 3 young women were having what sounded like a goukon (A Japanese style of date between two groups of strangers). The six people were obnoxiously loud, laughing and chatting loud enough so that the whole restaurant could hear. While this is not the staff’s fault, it is most definitely the staff’s responsibility to tell the customers to speak more quietly out of respect for the other diners. Unfortunately, they didn’t and I had to ask the staff to please tell the group to be quiet. When you’re paying this kind of money for high quality food, it should be a given that all customers respect those around them. Unfortunately, the staff here did not realize it (although the other customers did, often looking around and shaking their heads in disbelief).
Blame it on growing pains at this young restaurant, owned by a 30 year old chef, but while the food was very good and the price is nice, it is difficult to highly recommend this restaurant.