Saturday, January 23, 2010

Brasserie Bec, Yoyogi

There are a couple places I went years ago with my friend Naoko. They were all bistros - he was really good at picking bistros in outer suburbs - and after the visits I remained confused about where they were, ignorant as I was about geography in the year after I moved to Japan. In some cases I forgot about going to them until much later. For example I once met a French chef and he told me he used to work at Brin de Muguet in Ogikubo, which reminded me that I had been there, while he was cooking. I've tracked a number of the others, but there's still one place, somewhere out West, that I've never figured out.


And then there's Brasserie Bec. We walked around Yoyogi Uehara for an afternoon, taking tea and buying organic goods at Gaia, before settling on Bec from among the many cute little options (mostly Italian). We came in and saw the bustling counter and kitchen, then turned right and inched along the narrow space to the dining area...



Whereupon I started thinking "This looks awfully familiar". Must have been close to 5 years ago, but the yellow tablecloths and awkward interior geometry of the dining room were exactly the same. No problem, of course - anything Naoko picked back then that's still around is A-OK with me, and we picked it on this night independently of my prior visit, which is a double recommendation.


You know I don't often take pictures of bread, but I wanted to remind myself of the quality and diversity here. Not totally fresh or excellent, but great value. The sesame bread was great.


The Nice salad was a little boring. I was expecting a Lyon salad, hence my disappointment. Someday I'll have to remember a bit more about world geography. The day I give up my American passport!


The escabeche was a bit better - quite a lot of mackerel, cooked and vinegared and topped with vinegary vegetables.


This horohoro (pintade, I believe) was very very good, much better than the one I had in Takasaki. Probably shouldn't need to say things like that...Mustard sauce was well done, not a certainty these days.


And if this picture looks a little dark and blurry, it's because light had difficulty escaping the twin forces allied in the delightfully winsome, fulsome and bulksome Steak Rossini: the stickiness of the delightful truffled madeira sauce and the gravitational pull of the enormous steak of beefs. I say that Steak Rossini advisedly, because it was not medallions of filet as you might expect in a Rossini; more like a really good bistro steak topped with a huge lump of foie gras and sauced with that sauce. It was eat-the-fat good.


Nougat Glace was a letdown after that. sniff.








As value dining goes, this is the way to go. 2 plates - Y3300. The Rossini was a, errr, small upcharge (which I misread on the menu). Let's not talk about it. It was worth it. A bunch of wines by the glass, plus a willingness to raid the cellar if you want a glass of something else. Certainly you can find better food elsewhere, but if cost is at all on your mind, I think this is worth a short trip. For the steak.

The take-out shop next door must be nice too.
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