Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tableaux, Daikanyama

As a public service, I meant to post a comment that plenty of tables were available at all the major hotels for New Year's Eve dinners. Seriously - I decided at the last minute (30th) that I wanted to go somewhere glamorous and started calling. Park Hyatt, Penninsula, Shangri-La and others all had tables for either the early or late seatings (basically 5:30 or 8, with some variations) as long as you were down with the idea of paying $250/person. I laughed the first time I heard the price from one of them, but after that got used to it. I still think it's a joke - especially once you factor in the service charge and the fact that there's no festive countdown included. This, perhaps, is why there were so many tables.

Tableaux, on the other hand, did not have many tables at all, and won a place in my heart by offering their regular menu at regular prices, plus a live band and countdown ceremony (plus being open, in stark contrast to the dozen smaller, more interesting restaurants that I called). If you're a long-time Tokyo foreigner, you probably know Tableaux already - it was described to me (after the fact) as 'the coolest place to go - in the 90's', and while some people say it's a little dated or tired, I for one am not yet fatigued by over-the-top glamour and lightly-gothic flourishes. Something about the atmosphere that was genuinely disconcerting though was the number of foreigners - a good 90%, many of whom were known to the staff by name. I'm just not used to places like that.

The Asian-fusion menu must have been somewhat exciting when they opened. It's true - if they opened in 1994 or 95, I was really excited about fusion food then too! The crab cakes in American sauce (lobster reduction) were actually quite good, with chunky crab surrounded by a smooth shell of breading and fried like a croquette (not a more American-style lightly-crumbed-pan-fried approach). The fish was heavily fusion-ed, coming with a number of Japanese-inspired elements like a miso-topped slice of baked eggplant. It was dry, but not unforgivably so. For meat, we split a duck roast (actually, we split all three dishes, for which they cheekily charged us four $2 splitting fees, but we let it go since it was New Year's and they weren't gouging on the menu anyway) that was one of my favorite recent duck dishes - it was commented as tasting 'not that much like duck', which I guess was a good thing for me on the night. It was sorta like properly-cooked pink slices of steak.
So this is totally fine - wine notwithstanding, the prices are OK, the service is very professional, abundant and concerned for your wellbeing (and very English-speaking, if that's of interest), and the the food is decent. One thing I feel compelled to point out in a jokey way is that it's part of Global Dining (La Boheme, Zest, Monsoon), but on the web site they only link to the other 'Premium' restaurants in the GD group (Stellato, Legato). Scandalous!

Tabloze, Tablokes, any way you want.

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