Sepia Chicago at Park Hyatt Tokyo

It’s always nice to go home. Ten years ago, I left New York City to pursue a career in food and wine in Tokyo my first job was as the sommelier at the New York Grill and Bar at the Park Hyatt Tokyo. It’s an amazing hotel and one of my favorite restaurants in Tokyo. The views and service and food are some of the best in this metropolis known for its food and service. The views from the 360-degrees views from the 52nd floor are fabulous and if the skies are clear you can see Mount Fuji. The views are so great, as we were walking in, I spotted a few guests at the windows of the Bar with a cocktail in one hand and a camera in the other trying to capture the moment.

The Park Hyatt hosts chefs for guest residencies and this week Tokyo is lucky to have chef Andrew Zimmerman of Sepia Chicago. It is also a homecoming for Sepia co-owner Emmanuel Nony who was the food and beverage director at the Park Hyatt Tokyo in the late 90’s. He said tonight that he hasn’t been back to Tokyo in thirteen years and he looked thrilled to be back home and was at ease in his old workplace. Chef Andrew Zimmerman was also in Tokyo in 1989, but as a musician with a band. Now he returns as an artist, having exchanged his musical equipment for chef’s knives.

A big surprise tonight, especially as a former sommelier at the restaurant, was to see that Sepia Chicago worked with the Park Hyatt Tokyo to bring in some great California wines to pair with the food. The wines are making their first appearance in Tokyo, and I believe in Asia.

The New York Grill and Bar is serving the special Sepia Chicago menu tonight through Saturday, July 13th.

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I suggest if possible, come to the New York Grill (or Bar) before sun sets as it is a treat to watch the lights come up on the city below you. The house champagne is Louis Roederer, perfect for the first course.
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Foie Gras Royale – with a slightly sweet apricot and gewurztraminer jelly garnished with marcona almonds and brioche. Anyone familiar with Louis Roederer would understand how lovely this pairing is with the nuts, bread and foie gras.

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There is something relaxing about having dinner and drinks while the city is abuzz below.

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The Scholium Project “Midan Al-Tahir” White Wine, Fairfield 2011 is a blend of verdelho, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and gewurztraminer. A unique collection of grapes that is aromatic and with a nice acidity to start the evening off.
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Growing up in Minnesota I grew up eating a lot of corn. This amazing agnolotti was stuffed with a crazy, sweet and soft corn cream, with truffles, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Corn has just come to market in Tokyo so exciting to see how this Chicago chef (also a Midwest state as Minnesota is) used Japanese corn.

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Matthiason White Wine, Napa Valley, 2010 of sauvignon blanc, ribolla gialla, semillon, and tocai fruliano. Many Italian grapes do well in California as we see in this lovely wine.

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Chef Zimmerman has obviously been to Tsukiji Market since he arrived in Tokyo. Here we see black sole, shrimp, asari, and I believe tsubugai. Also, the petit grapes are umi budō, sea grapes from Okinawa.

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I loved how the staff poured in a dark green sauce made from spinach, basil, and some herbs.

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The completed dish.
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As night falls upon Tokyo the room softly lights up.
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and the city glistens below.9

Forlorn Hope “San Hercurmer delle Frecce” Barbera, Amador County 2011. Barbera is one of my fallback Italian wines when going out as it always delivers. Having spent some summers in California for work on my days off I would explore wine country. Amador County has some great wineries off the beaten path and this is just one of those treasures.

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Again Japan jumped out on this dish with the grilled Sendai kuroge wagyū sirloin, roasted maitake, and gobō chip. The acidity and fruitiness of the barbera stood up to the rich wagyū steak.

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Novy Family Wines Viognier Late Harvest, Russian River Valley. The cool climate of the Russian River Valley gives this wine an uplifting acidity.

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When I saw carrot cake on the menu I immediately thought of a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. And here is the brilliance of chef Zimmerman on a plate. The carrot cake is simply carrots braised in brown butter. The ice cream was made with cream cheese and had the flavor of carrot cake. I hope Zimmerman can sell this recipe to Haagen-Dazs and that it is sold throughout the world. The world would be a much happier place if everyone could indulge in this ice cream.

Emmanuel Nony had said that this was a dish that Zimmerman made when he was on Iron Chef America last year. He beat Iron Chef Marc Forgione in the challenge cream cheese.
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There is a chocolate dessert if you must…

Now I have a reason to drive to Chicago from Minnesota on my next visit home. Chef Zimmerman also graduated from the French Culinary Institute, a year ahead of me. Here is an interview with Zimmerman for Metropolis magazine. It’s interesting to see his favorite cookbooks and what Japanese ingredients he uses back in Chicago.

If you are in Tokyo this week, treat yourself and someone you are close to, with an evening at the New York Grill.

Five-course dinner with Chef Andrew Zimmerman from Sepia Chicago at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, ¥19,000.

Tel: 03-5323-3458 for reservations.

Sepia Chicago website

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