Saturday, July 16, 2011

Botanica, Roppongi

It's a rare day that I have lunch at 11:30. It's even rarer that I go to Roppongi for it, and rarer still that I enter the rarefied air of the Midtown restaurant floors. Always seemed like they were a bit too fancy, but for a family lunch with someone, it's just the ticket. Botanica was designed by Terrence Conran (and partners), with a focus on plants and leaves and the nice garden that's visible outside the restaurant due to the way they've set up the interior volumes. Being celebratory, we had the top (C) course.

The first plate is salmon; I'm unclear if it was smoked or cured, but was a nice piece of filet and a good fish. Topped with cream and crunchy bits, that could have been a good plate by itself. They went a step further with the salady stuff, and then a step too far with the mango segments and puree.

Asparagus soup; cold, fresh, and positively tumescent with asparagus flavor.

May I point out at this juncture that while the design is Conran-led, the kitchen is Aso-influenced? It's part of the 'Aso Group', in case any manical Aso fans need to go for completism's sake. But it's also part of the Hiramatsu Group. Are they one group? Are there 20 restaurants? Is it in fact a chain? The mine boggles. Please set me straight if I'm wrong.

Lobster risotto, definitely a highlight; the American sauce delicately napping the perfectly al dente rice was a hit at the table (just like that sort of language could be a hit with international readers). Seriously, it's rare and nice to get big pieces of lobster like that.

Chicken from Saga, either topped with bacon or else with the skin cooked in such a way as to precisely simulate bacon. The bacon was the best part of this, although the chicken was delicious too. The fried onions, a bit limp, and the soup bits, a bit soupy (cooked-down turnip, we thought).
A disappointment that this is the inclusion in the top course, considering the trouble they go to in describing their specialty as aged beef.

Who would've thought, but the 'jumble' dessert was a real winner. You know I'm usually quite cranky about Japanese chefs being lazy about dessert and throwing together mounds of assorted ingredients, but here the melon, melon ice, (delicious) panna cotta, and thyme jelly and thyme leaves were a fascinating combination. I could eat this again and again.

Indeed, better than eating cats.


  1. Family... celebratory... someone...

    Are congratulations in order? If so, congratulations, Jon.

  2. Someone's father's birthday, but I'll happily accept congratulations on his behalf!

  3. お誕生日おめでとうございます、Someone's father.