There is a new French chef in town, Nicolas Boujéma, at Signature in the Mandarin Oriental. I was very curious to try his food as he has a very impressive resumé, most recently coming from Pierre Gagnaire in Hong Kong. I had the chance to interview him for Metropolis magazine for a Tastemaker piece. It’s always exciting to see a chef who is new to Japan explore the local ingredients. Boujéma is a talented chef and it will be fun to revisit and see how his cuisine evolves as he experiences the changing produce and seafood. He lives near Tsukiji Market and visits often, and says that he finds a lot of inspiration there.
Louis Roederer champagne to start, a lovely wine. This table overlooks Tokyo station, the Bank of Japan, and the historic Nihonbashi district where the Mandarin Oriental is located.
Some lovely amuse bouche to start includes smoked eel, an aromatic muscat, and gougère.
An earthy Australian truffle soup, ravioli foie gras, with a light vegetable broth. It is well balanced and not too heavy, and just sexy enough with the truffles. Which makes me feel guilty for indulging in something so nice before dinner.
Saffron butter and whipped butter. Excellent bread is being made in house like this petit baguette and brioche. The saffron butter was a very nice touch.
Tavel Chateau d’Aquéria is a lovely rosé and perfect not only on a hot summer day, as this was, but also with the sardine and tomato dish it was served with.
Lovely presentation of iwashi (sardine) that is marinated in salt, lemon juice, and olive oil. It’s served with a refreshing tomato terrine, goat cheese from Loire, Italian ham, and mustard crouton. Again, the dish is well-balanced and not too rich, as one would expect from iwashi.
Alsace is one of my favorite wine regions for its aromatic white wines with a crisp acidity. It is the wine I choose when we are out and celebrating a special occasion. When the sommelier brought this to the table I couldn’t stop smiling. I was told that a former Japanese sommelier at Signature married into the Hugel family and is now living in Alsace. This was riesling was nice with this next dish.
My favorite dish of the meal was this amazing combination of truffles, waffle, braised shallots, leeks, mushrooms, and whipped cream with truffles. The leek was sliced thin and painted onto the plate. The waffle pockets were stuffed with braised shallots and served with a lovely Port sauce. And again, a hedonistic course with truffles. Had I been at home I would have picked up the plate and licked it clean.
Francois Villard Condrieu Les Terraces du Palaix. Lovely aromatics in this viognier. This floral Rhone wine is perfect for the accompanying fish main dish which reminded me of the Mediterranean.
Bouillabaise inspired cod, amadai sashimi, eggplant puree with lemon, zucchini, and fennel. The warm breeze of the south of France. A nice touch of amadai (tile fish) sashimi with the cod.
Potato espumante with saffron is a refreshing palate cleanser before the cheese course.
Macon La Roche Vineuse Gamay – lovely with the cheese! Fruity yet with a nice backbone.
48 months aged Comte cheese which I am told is very rare. It is prepared with truffles, a white pepper cream, and shaved with some sweet jelly, and brioche in the middle. Muscat grape and dragon fruit. A luxurious course and so nice to see the cheese served three ways.
Hakuto peaches espumante. A wonderful, light finish and a nice touch as peaches are at the peak of their seasonality in Japan at the moment.
And a few sweet touches to end a lovely lunch.
It’s always exciting to welcome a new chef to Tokyo. Be sure to put Signature on your Go List for Tokyo. Excellent food, outstanding service, knowledgeable sommeliers, and spectacular views – day or night. It will be fun to watch his cuisine evolve as he acquaints himself with the seasonal Japanese ingredients.
Signature at the Mandarin Oriental
Nihonbashi Muromachi 2-1-1