Flourishing Florilege Tokyo Review
Location: B1 SEIZAN Gaien, 2-5-4, Jingumae, Shibuya ward, Tokyo city
Chef: Hiroyasu Kawate
Cuisine: Fusion Japanese degustation
Awards: 1 Michelin Star (2017), #14 Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants (2017), #99 World’s 50 Best Restaurants (2017)
It is a given that most foodies choose a restaurant based on the style and quality of the food. On a trip to Tokyo, Florilege was a rare time that the choice to dine was based on a rumoured ‘immersive’ experience as well as the fact it had been named as ‘one to watch’ by food journos.
Chef Hiroyasi Kawate created Florilege after his three Michelin-starred tutelage at Quintessence and Le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier. His French-Japanese fusion approach is not unique, in fact Tokyo has a swathe of French-inspired-come-fusion restaurants that blend the complexity of French cooking with the simplicity of Japanese produce. However, his attention to an immersive experience gives Florilege an awe factor that is usually reserved to up and comers, rather than fine dining restaurants.
Florilege’s single, 22 seat surround table layout perches you slightly above the kitchen where the chefs’ balletic coordination takes a single idea through to plating and presentation. Ornamental trees shroud the action and projects a feeling of other worldliness, like Alice going down the rabbit hole.
The menu is a seasonal, degustation-style dining experience, with short and long menu options (of course we chose the longest). Each dish is made with ’11 thoughts’ and based around respect and passion for the producers, chefs, ingredients and of course Mother Nature. There is a strong commitment to minimal waste and sustainability (see the inspiration pic above). This idea is evident in the simplistic menu that notes the idea and the main ingredient/product. The menu was:
Projection : Sweet Potato
Taste to Over : Sardine
Confit : Soft Shelled Turtle
Sustainability : Beef
Hetero : Oyster
Spanish Mackerel : Chinese Cabbage
Best Season: Persimmon
Homemade : Cheese
Gift : Amazon Cacao
Highlights were the Sardine dish and the Oyster dish (served with dry ice smoke). Each dish on the menu was a perfect degustation/ tasting menu size (2-3 mouthfuls) with acute attention to the primary ingredient as the focus and other flavours distinct and complimentary. The sardine was fresh and ocean-salty and prominent on the first bite. It was folded with handmade noodles and roasted tomato which came through afterwards.The Oyster dish was fun with tiny droplets of fresh zesty citrus surrounding a light tempura oyster and seaweed.
The bespoke Japanese plates added a special element that is missing with the vacuous white plates often served in fine dining restaurants. Which beautifully segues to my overall impression. This restaurant is not a white-plate fine dining restaurant you come to expect with Michelin stars, but a stand-alone unique creation that transports you into another realm for a few hours and leaves you with a lingering memory.
Go down the rabbit hole and come back a changed foodie.