Friday, April 23, 2010

Le Mont St Michel, Mejiro

Yves Ringler was a soldier in the Jimmy Cayne mob, running numbers out of Tokyo. They called him "The Wringer" even though that doesn't really sound like his name if you pronounce it properly. He managed to give up the life a few years ago, showing a good deal of prescience. As you may know, I was on the side of Dick in the epic conflict that followed, while Yves was busy opening a tidy creperie in Mejiro that he now presides over as a truly exemplary host.

After the recent redecorations at Le Pre Verre (from: fun modern French to: dull traditional as expected by Japanese people), it's a pleasure to visit a place that feels totally French in its decor (especially the second floor) and cooking. The cooking comes by way of an actual Frenchman, convinced to close his famous creperie in Brittany for the move, presiding over the kitchen with a good deal of savoir faire. The event was a wine tasting (various offerings from bio madman M. Chapoutier) that proved to be absolutely wonderful in both flavor and value; unfortunately the night's special menu seems to include a number of dishes that aren't generally available. I'd still say this is worth your dining dime, and fully intend to find out for myself with a return visit.

Dining at a galetterie, one should expect several rounds of galettes; the standard menu, in fact, doesn't include that many other options. After eating this item, I wouldn't say you'll feel the lack. It's like going to one of those ridiculous pizza places in Japan where the oven is directly imported and the chef has been to Italy to train on it. In this case, the buckwheat flour is indeed imported from France, and the taste is indeed beyond anything I've had before; certainly no other galette in Tokyo matches the depth and darkness of the flour used here, or the cooking methods. Also, points to the chef for managing to serve this chicken-cheeze galette to more than 20 people more or less at once, quite hot. Further points for including truffle oil in a way that wasn't artificial or cloying. Points all around, really.

Salmon cooked in foil with orange and vegetables. A worthy cooking technique that you can and should use at home.

The duck here was nicely roasted (and a pox on those sitting around me who cut the fat off each slice. What's the point of that?), but more to the point the unreadable tangle in the back was strips of pan-fried galette. Boy were they good...sort of like buckwheat tortilla chips, I suppose.

There was wine going on, of course, and here we compare M. Chapoutier's Hermitage to his Crozes Hermitage (let me recollect the specific bottles later). Mostly I just wanted to include a picture with silly blackouts on people's faces. And black fingernails.

Incidentally, you're thinking that I take too many pictures these days, aren't you? I'd like to mention that one of the people pictured herein didn't notice that I was taking pictures until a bit after this point, i.e. none of the first three courses. It's all about being unobtrusive. I don't want to ruin anyone's dinner, least of all my own.

I've read a lot of Stuff Parisians Like, so for me the quote of the night came from the leggy Russian girlfriend sitting next to me, who greeted this plate with a decorously-squealed "Ohhh, j'adore le boeuf bourguingnon." Yves mentioned with great fanfare and a few tears that the chef had wasted a tremendous amount of wine in its preparation, which started two days earlier. Very proper, I say. I'm afraid that the pattern for these tastings may follow other series that I've been to, i.e. the proprietor realizes gradually that he's being too generous and downgrades things over time. I hope not. This was so good! Again, I would never consider leaving aside a piece of beef like this on the grounds that it was 'too fatty'. I might even steal such a morsel from my neighbor's plate.

And to finish (well, almost), a galette mousse cake. I've always suspected that the existence of things like 'mille crepe' in Japan was an invention, but this would seem to indicate that they really do exist in France too...again, the galette-based plates were probably the highlight of the dinner for me, so I enjoyed this and think you should try it when you go.

You should also know that the drinks menu is lovely - in addition to a broad selection of wine at all price points (which I imagine will all be very good, considering the effort Yves seems to put into it), there's lots of cider, plus some calvados and other specialty items. It pained me so much to leave when Yves said "Ohhh, but we're just getting to the Calvados. Won't you stay?" So much. But as it was, I only just squeezed onto the last train. Taxis from Mejiro are prohibitive, I think. Keep that in mind when you go, and I hope you do.

Just one question - Mejiro?


  1. Hi Jon,
    Nicely done, as usual, great reading. Looking fwd to June 11th! Btw, do you have a list of the actual wines, or did I miss it somewhere in your post?

  2. Steve, I never got around to scanning the notes from this one (or the new one). I'll try to get them up in the near future as long as Yves doesn't mind. The descriptions and notes add a lot to it, so I felt a little bad publishing them.