Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa lights up his unassuming restaurant with dishes resembling carefully curated art pieces. If you don’t go to Les Créations de Narisawa with a child-like imagination, you have denied yourself most of the fun.
Like the children in The Chronicles of Narnia who traveled through a wardrobe to a magical land – as soon as I settle to my seat, my attention is captured by the flow of beautiful plates that transform the simple dining room into a mystical wonderland.
Narisawa is serving a set menu named: Early Summer Collection, 2013 – Evolve with the Forest. You must sharpen all your senses to witness life blossom in the forest, to taste the soil of the earth, to hear music from the running creek and to embrace the fragrant breeze of the sea.
The “Forest 2010” Bread of the Forest is a piece of rising dough mixed with sancho leaves and grapefruit citrus, placed in a jug decorated by branches of green leaves. It keeps growing as my meal progresses, and when it’s ready to be cooked, the waiter transfers the dough into a pre-heated stone bowl, then covers it with a piece of wood for 12 minutes. What I discover after 12 minutes is mouthwatering bread that I saw come to life – I have just witnessed the early summer blossom in the forest.
The Essence of the Forest, Satoyama Scenery is a piece of earth displayed in front of me. Chef Narisawa uses soy pulp and carbonized green tea to resemble soil and green moss; fried burdock to resemble a fallen oak branch with a sprinkle of flower petals and organic leaves. To perfect the dish, natural spring water is served in oak and cedar wood – I can see, touch and taste the nature and I can hear the running stream of the forest creek.
The dish that took my breath away is the Japanese Eggplant from Kyoto which is one part puree, one part sautéed and one part fried eggplant served with black olives and shiitake mushrooms, embellished by delicate flowers and dressed in a layer of tomato jelly. It is an intricate piece of art that is incredibly delectable.
Resembling what remains would be left after a camp fire, the Hida beef is displayed on top of actual charcoal to let us see how remarkable this concoction truly is. The Hida beef is a black-haired Japanese cattle breed that is known to have the finest quality in marbling, color, texture and smell. Chef Narisawa uses a French technique by cooking it slowly in butter and olive oil, then covering the meat in leek ash powder to make it look like charcoal. The taste and texture is refine and amazingly delightful.
Chef Narisawa’s meticulously curated and elaborated presentation has finally come to an end. I on the other hand am still reminiscing in a dreamlike state – until the cold rain of an early Tokyo summer fall on my skin and awaken me from my sweet dream. Walking away from this magical experience I thought, “some refer food only as fuel for the body, while it is true, I would refer Chef Narisawa as an artist and his food creations as artwork, for I have found that magical wardrobe of Narnia, the one that will take me to a mystical land.”