High-end cuisine, high up in the city.
Last Saturday, as part of a three-day weekend, Naoko and I got all dressed up and headed out for dinner at Andaz Tavern. Part of the Hyatt group, Andaz Tokyo is the first Andaz property in the city: a five-star boutique lifestyle hotel situated on floors 47-52 of Toramonon Hills. Its restaurant, Andaz Tavern, aims to serve refined European provincial cuisine prepared with seasonal Japanese ingredients.
From the outside, Toramonon Hills’ epic skyscraper makes for an impressive sight, yet from the building’s first-floor entrance you’d be hard-pressed to know the Andaz is even there at all. Subtle and minimal signage led us down a glistening corridor to an elevator with a single button. It felt very exclusive, almost as if we were about to enter a top secret laboratory.
After an ear-popping journey to the 51st floor, the elevator doors opened out onto a spacious lobby, with staff in fashionable yet smart casual dress waiting to welcome us to the restaurant. Once seated we were offered a welcome drink from anything on the drinks menu. We chose mocktails made with rosemary, lemon, honey and soda. Served in champagne flutes with real rosemary stalks, it was a subtle indication of the standard of food we were to enjoy.
The first course – a terrine of foie gras and eel with a red wine reduction – also included an unusual combination of pineapple and pine nuts. The pineapple worked extremely well, balancing out the richness of the terrine and making what could have essentially been quite a heavy dish into a light one.
Next up, just as the sun was beginning to go down, was chilled cappelini with a tomato and lemon sauce. Sitting on top was a raw baton ebi (prawn) and hanaho, a small type of purple flower. Somehow the fresh tomatoes had a depth of flavour as strong as sun-dried tomatoes, and I’m still not quite sure how the chef achieved this.
In terms of ambience, the restaurant itself is the type of place where you just want just sit back now and again and soak it all in. Designed with dark wood and clean lines, the space flows nicely with just enough room between tables to ensure privacy, yet still maintain a good atmosphere.
The third course was one I had particularly been wanting to try after seeing it on the menu: pan-seared scallops with cauliflower (roasted and pureed) with pine nuts and raisins. Reminiscing how my dad used to serve scallops at home in Northern Ireland, this was a dish of nostalgia for me served in a modern way. Cauliflower is a vegetable you see rarely served in Japan, yet is very popular in Ireland, and so it was a double bonus for me to be able to enjoy this. The sweetness of the scallops and raisins was a perfect match and something I will remember when cooking myself in the future (to a much lesser standard, I must admit.)
The main was a choice between pan-fried isaki fish and Japanese beef tenderloin. For me, there was no question – but Naoko also opted for the tenderloin saying she rarely (read: never) cooks beef herself and wanted to try a high-quality cut. Served with a raspberry and beetroot puree, sitting alongside shallots soaked in port, there one was one moment when I think I audibly groaned with pleasure while eating it. I’m sure the fish would have been equally as good, but all I can say is I am very glad I chose what I did.
Our last course was essentially a deconstructed mojito – offering the sharp and refreshing flavours of lime, mint and white rum. The mint jelly actually took me by surprise; I don’t think I had ever tried it before. The combination worked – the lime and mint punching for attention, yet somehow also working in harmony. I thought it was a clever and ambitious dish that not only cleansed the palette, but unashamedly smacked you right between the eyes with its sharpness and flavour.
By the time we had finished our tea and coffee, the sun had well and truly set over Tokyo – Sky Tree standing tall in the distance, and cars twinkling far down below. The restaurant interior was dimly lit, allowing us to really appreciate the spectacle stretching out for miles and miles before us.
As the relaxing sound of a piano player filled the room, we said gochisousama deshita (thank you for the food) and made our way to the lobby to take in one final glimpse of our surroundings. 51 floors up, it felt like a different world, and one that we did not necessarily want to leave…
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