Sunday, October 28, 2012

French food

The Spectator, that wonderfully quirky English weekly, reports that last year France entertained more tourists (79.5 million) than any other country. (Next was the US at 62.3 million, then China at 57.6. Japan wasn't even on the list.)

It seems clear that the greatest draw to France is the French table. No doubt, the French eat well, but so do we. In fact, anyone who knows both Tokyo and Paris will tell you that Tokyo far outclasses Paris as far as eating goes. The Michelin Guide to Tokyo has certified this by giving out many more stars to restaurants in Tokyo than any other city.

Can it be that Tokyo has come to appreciate fine French cooking through the taste and precision presentation of kaiseki? Our standards are high, that is true.

All this was brought to mind by an exquisite meal last night at Marie Claude, an intimate, hard-to-locate little French restaurant nestled in the luxurious canyons of Roppongi. There Chef/owner Kazuko Nagao is creating her own innovative version of French cuisine. Her dinner menu is something like 6,000 yen, a gift.

If you are in the mood when you visit her, you might like to sit at the counter on a high stool which pretty much puts you right in the kitchen. Curiously, watching a craftsman at work sharpens the appetite, but it does mute conversation. Ah well…

On your first visit, you should set aside plenty of time to track the place down, as while it's in the midst of things it's hidden, a very Tokyo trope.

Marie Claude, Akasaka 2-17-52. Tel. 03-6459-1158. Nearest station Roppongi 1-chome. 

- Rick Kennedy, author Good Tokyo Restaurants

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