Why eat French food in Tokyo? Because it's usually better than in France! Located on the second floor of its own two-story building in Ginza, L'Osier perches over the surrounding street lined with designer stores and Tokyo's fashion-savvy shoppers. L'Osier is both style and substance, however; its plates both visually stunning and delicious. I had a meal here in 2006 and never got around to posting it. But I have such strong and positive memories about my experience here that it would be an injustice not to share it. I'm going to post what I remember based on my notes. I ate here before Michelin came to Tokyo and rated this restaurant three stars. It's interesting to see how this restaurant seems to have only gotten better since then.
After being seated our French-speaking waiter came over and guided us through the menu. We essentially made our own tasting based on the courses that sounded the most interesting. Shortly after an assortiment of breads all baked in house were brought to the table: chestnut, milk, whole grain, baguette, and raisin. Some of the rolls were still warm.
Rose consome with cilantro and tomato ravioli - This was served cool just below room temperature. What was immediately apparent was the fragrance of the rose. It smelled sweet and citrusy like a fresh pineapple. (I can't stand when rose-infused dishes smell like bathroom soap.) The flavor was bright and refreshing with minimal sweetness. The ravioli had some chew to it and the inside spilled out with the first bite. This was great.
White and green asparagus with truffle sauce and sabayon - Fat stalks of lightly cooked asparagus with a truffle cream. The asparagus were served warm and a bit watery due to their thickness. The art-deco geometric presentation matched the decor of the restaurant. This was a bit ordinary, the only course of the meal that I wasn't too happy about. The consistency of the sauce was too close to mayonaise for me to really enjoy it.
Turbot encrusted in parsley and mushrooms with a lettuce and curry sauce - The way the vegetal bitterness of the cooked lettuce and parsley interacted with the curry was phenomenal. I generally don't like curry but in this case its subtle inclusion added a hint of sweetness that really brought out the flavors of the turbot. The curry also had a way to cut through the butteriness of the juicy fish by binding with the oils. It made this fish taste fatty but feel lean.
Bulgur-fed Duck with a fruit marmelade puree with carrot and cumin, served with a Bergamot reduction - This was outstanding. The warm tannic-quality of the cumin helped to round out the bright acidity of the Bergamot reduction. The duck was soft and supple its crispy skin fatty but not oily in the mouth. The quality of the meat was superb; its juiciness made the duck shine in the light.
We skipped dessert and feasted on the abundance of petits fours. Trays of macarons, sweet tomato tarts, pot de crèmes, and caramel candies. Tray after tray of sweets and knickknacks kept arriving much like at Guy Savoy. Our table was converted into a gorgeous potpourri of color and flavor.
This is one of my two best French meals that I've had in Tokyo, the other being at Le Château. What made this meal particularly interesting was its inclusion of Northern African spices such as cumin and curry. This shade of fine French cuisine is uncommon in Paris at this level of quality.
Chef Menard really has a gift for serving traditional French dishes while using the best that Japanese cuisine has to offer. The result is a magical combination of classic French cuisine melded with Japanese quality of ingredients and exacting precision.