A trip to Italy, via the Tokyo skyline.
A few weeks back, for Naoko’s 30th, we visited The Restaurant by Aman – Aman’s fine dining experience on the 33rd floor of their property in Tokyo’s Otemachi Tower. The Aman name is synonymous with clean, minimal design – and this was to be my first experience of a lifestyle brand that now has high-end properties in over 20 countries worldwide.
Upon arrival on ground level we were greeted by simple signage with embossed silver letters on grey marble. This sophistication was to continue as soon as we exited the elevator at the top, with a hotel lobby that was among one of the most impressive I have seen on all my travels. Framed by a series of towering stone columns, a seemingly endless ceiling stretched out above us, with warm light beaming from what looked like a cross between huge shoji sliding doors and an enormous washi paper lantern.
Inside the restaurant we were seated by the window and offered a welcome drink – a Grenadine Italian Soda that set the mood for a menu which was primarily based upon the flavours of Italy’s Veneto region on the Adriatic Sea.
The Striped Jack Carpaccio with Malabar Spinach and Fresh Tomato Puttanesca was a perfect start to the course; the sharpness of the capers and olives complimenting the freshness of the fish. It’s amazing how something that looked so simple could deliver such strength of flavour. Eating slowly, watching the view, I almost didn’t want this first course to end.
Next up was scialatielli – a thicker type of pasta that was the perfect choice for a ragu made from roasted peppers, served with taccole green beans and celery. The star of the show here, however, had to be the polpo piccante – spicy octopus that was hands-down the most tender I have ever eaten. It changed my whole perception of how octopus can be incorporated into a dish.
It’s never easy when the choice of mains on offer both sound amazingly good. On this occasion though, the Sautéed Snapper with Scallops and Saffron lost out to the Roasted Duck Breast with Okinawa Spinach, Black Garlic and Marsala Sauce. Perfectly cooked, the duck sat alongside little baby onions that housed the sauce. I never thought I would use the word adorable when it came to food, but these baby onion shells came close.
Clean and minimal during daylight, the restaurant took on a different personality when the sun went down – offering just enough light to create an ambience that at times felt otherworldly. As we looked out the window, this atmosphere was heightened further by a storm coming in and threatening to swallow Tokyo out on the horizon. Such a view made our meal all the more striking.
Not one to do things by halves, Aman went all out for Naoko’s birthday, presenting her with a personalised birthday plate welcoming her into her 30s. An unconventional take on the classic Tiramasu, the dessert was laced with espresso granita – coffee ice crystals – that made sure we left the restaurant buzzing. But really, with a course menu like the one we enjoyed, it would have been hard to leave the venue any other way.
Follow in our footsteps: