Thursday, April 21, 2016

Requinquer, Shiroganedai

Romance is not dead. Merely slumbering. It awakens every few years. Like cicadas.

With a fortuitous alignment of stars and moon this month, Big Bird and I are both in Tokyo and had a few weeks to awaken the 'romantic Thursday Lunch' tradition we established in 2011.

Requinquer is pretty well-known and highly-regarded, so it's not a hot find or anything, but it was awfully good. The anecdote here is that when Big Bird used to hang out with his dentist friend in Kita Senju, one of the nondescript bars they frequented (next door to this one, same owners) had surprisingly great food. Because they had a surprisingly great chef who was between other things, until he opened Requinquer. It's kind of a big jump from Kita Senju to Shirogane, but he's been open for enough years that it obviously worked.

Let's get to rockin'! Or stonin'. Or something. The waiter was trying super-hard to engage us in English, bless him, and made a joke about this being 'a rock, on another rock'. In a box of rocks, he should have said. The upper rock is bread and dried cod moistened together. The lower rock is a tiny roll, probably with charcoal in the dough. Tasty, forgettable.

Oh, they kinda forget to give you the menu too. I think this was maybe a foreigner issue, but we were not allowed to take the menu into our manly paws. In fairness, this is because you can only choose between fish and meat, but then the waiter explained all the dishes to us too, so I dunno.

Further, he explained that the meat was 'chicken', when in fact it was 'quail'. So, you know, read the menu.

When I was in middle school I remember this thing that the cafeteria would do for school lunches - 'Breakfast At Lunch'. This amuse is called 'Start With Dessert (plus liver)'. A little baba pastry, soaked in sweetness, topped with foie mousse and candied orange. Pretty good!
I like how the orangeness continued here with the carrot soup. If this wasn't deeply carroty, it was certainly deeply creamy, in that 'don't ask, don't tell' way they have in French restaurants and the military. Delicioso.
Clamanoso! Clamato! Clamingo! It's a big-ass clam (that's the species name), deliciously battered and fried and surrounded with vegetables and salad, delightfully sauced. Meaty clam. Terrific spring flavor. Sauce poured on tableside.

"This tasted as good as it looked"
This probably tasted better than it looks. Have you noticed how a plate can look nice when it arrives in front of you at a restaurant, you take a picture, and when you review later it looks like a jumble of crap? I was wise to that effect on this plate but powerless to prevent it.

Madai, nicely cooked in a big piece and sliced for us. Braised spring cabbage. Fried cabbage leaf. Vinegar red cabbage. Some green stalky thing.

And smoked firefly squids! Hands up, who's had that before? Not me. They were smoked on sakura wood, we asked, but had this nifty sweet smokiness that reminded me of nothing more than a burnt marshmallow.
Hey, this looked pretty decent! And it looked even better on the day. It's a quail, a whole quail, completely boned out (heh heh) except the legs. Stuffed with pork mousse studded with shrimp bits. Wonderful sauce. Fried potatoes, very nice. Fuki stalks.

Were I to complain, I would just say this was almost too big, especially the way the body was all ballooned up with the pork mousse. And the value differential between the fish and meat dishes is really wide. But we got both, so no biggie. Or maybe an almost-too-biggie.
Certain members of the party speculated that dessert would be disappointing. They were incorrect. This parfait thing seems to be the house specialty, and I like how chef snuck in firefly squid and cherry tree leaves to the course to be Japanese and springy despite being a French bistro.

Cherry leaf-flavored mousse on top, and jelly underneath, with white bean ice cream and a further layer of green tea mousse. And crunchy bits mixed throughout, so it wasn't just smooth and luxurious. You had to fight and work while enjoying your 5 courses of French lunch.
Ponder that while you inhale a last bite, a chocolate Madeleine. Strangely not risen, but carmelized on the top, so quite rich and tasty.

Kinda like us!

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