Saturday, January 30, 2010

C'est la Vie Nagano, Shinjuku

After planning to visit the Salon du Chocolate at Shinjuku Isetan, it seemed almost like a requirement to visit one of the many eastside Shinjuku bistros afterward. I cast about with my new favorite tool, Google Maps (seriously - just search for 'bistro' or whatever you want, within the neighborhood that you want, and you'll be pleasantly surprised. It's semi-linked to Tabelog as well.) and came up with this. As soon as I saw the name, I remembered that Dominic had visited recently and liked it, and now I see that Seat has been also. In this case I'm proud to be unoriginal, because it's just a great little place.
Presumably the chef is Nagano san, which would explain the name. I like to think the C'est la vie part fits his personality as well, which is calm and reserved in a kinda grizzled way. We talked to him a little, and he was nice, but with 16 filled seats and only three people to do everything, neither he nor the two women working with him had time to do much but crank out plates. They were cranking out these plates when we sat down, and for some reason photographing their own work. I had to get in on the'll see this again later.

Arrrrrrr, meat. The kitchen is seriously small. This was the main cutting board, and it was probably half the size of the one I use at home - because precious counter space was taken up by the mise en place, mixer, knife rack, dishwasher, and everything else one needs to operate a kitchen. Still, the board is big enough to cut slices off this terrine...

Which showed up in front of us shortly after. This was a damn good terrine, both the mixed-meat parts around the outside and also the substantial block of pure liver in the middle. The little custard on the right is actually stuffed with dried figs, which was a neat twist on serving dried fruit with terrine.

From the bottom up, this is scrambled egg (really, I think so), tartar of scallops, and grapefruit jelly. All fresh and refreshing, but the jelly was a bit too strong for my tastes. Still, no disappointment, especially when considering the cost performance.

Pie of oysters and little shrimp. Nagano san helpfully pointed out that I had ordered two pie-based things in sequence. I respectfully chose to continue on said course to destruction. Cooked oysters are not a favorite of mine, but I loved this, especially the just-torched blue cheese sauce.

I feel somewhat fortunate to have avoided chowing down on these large lobular slices of foie, which graced the steaks of the couple sitting next to us at the counter.  I also feel fortunate to have a camera with a good zoom and anti-shake features, as this was actually 2 meters away.

Snapper with clams and a fish quenelle, all covered with a shrimp-based sauce. And yummy, especially the quenelle. I would have sworn there was lobster in it.

Here's the other pie, the one pictured at the beginning. A substantial chunk of beef, wrapped in prosciutto, wrapped in pie, and roasted up. Just great. Not fancy, but delicious.

Blueberry and brownie pot de creme, with a side of frozen caramel mousse. Pleasantly sweet and creamy, enough so to finish off the meal well.

How much would you pay for this? 2 plates are Y2900, 4 plates are Y4000 (extra entree and dessert). And it's all good. I would pay more, and I told Nagano san that. Get thee hence.

Conveniently located near 2-chome!

1 comment:

  1. Lunch is excellent value, too: 1365 for what looks like the same 2 plates.