All tagged private tatami rooms
Our meal at L2O was a back-and-forth mix of traditional Japanese kaiseki with modern French cuisine. The restaurant really shined when it stuck to the simple and authentic Japanese dishes, as chef Gras has a remarkably precise cooking style that highlighted the very subtle flavors found in fish and vegetables. Had I not known about chef Gras, I might have thought he grew up in Japan.
L2O also served some dishes that were a fusion of the two cuisines. This was the restaurant’s most interesting aspect. The richness of butter can really intensify mild flavors, particularly the subdued flavors of mushroom and cooked fish. But at times it seemed like two different chefs were cooking the meal, taking turns between French and Japanese styles. Sometimes their was synergy in the sequence of courses, other times dissonance.
The simplicity and minimalism of Japanese cuisine never cease to amaze me. Particularly with traditional kaiseki, sauces and spices practically don't exist. Instead of flavoring the ingredients in a dish with external condiments, ingredients are chosen for their own intrinsic flavors.
This ingredient-focused approach took a bit of getting used to; in fact the first time I tried kaiseki, I didn't like it. I thought the flavors were dull, repetitive, and boring. But the more I ate it and the longer I spent in Japan, the more I began to appreciate it. My barometer of flavor reset. Instead of loud spicy Thai cuisine full of spices and herbs, or very sweet and sticky Shanghainese cusine, Kaiseki lies flat in the middle: nothing too sweet, salty, or sour. It is a cuisine of modesty and humility where the natural flavors of the ingredients are put on a pedestal to shine.