Uncle Yabai and I recently ate at a French restaurant called Emun, and were blown away by some of the food. A real revelation. Emun is a four table restaurant in Ebisu-Minami with a nice interior (if perhaps just a tad formal, but why not) and pleasant staff (which consists of one waiter / sommelier; he is a little shy and stiff, but knows his wine and has a real passion for the restaurant). It also has a decent if uneventful and relatively short wine list (good by-the-glass selections though, much better than average at an equivalent French restaurant), but what makes this place is the food, or at least some of it.
We had the degustation menu, not cheap at 12,000 yen per person, but it contained some dishes that were genuinely memorable and absolutely world class. The menu consisted of an amuse bouche, a kegani starter, a wonderful vegetable dish (well... with chorizo bits and pork rillet dip, but still mainly vegetables), a foie gras dish (more on that below), a fish dish, a meat dish and then a small and large dessert.
The fish and meat dishes were of very solid quality as befits the restaurant's 1 Michelin star status (which reflects a 1 star restaurant in France, not the ridiculously inconsistent Tokyo standard for this award), but no more than that. Wagyu with foie gras, pigeon with a rather lovely pigeon jus and red wine reduction (which I had when I went the second time in 7 days), etc. - nothing unusual. Dessert was good if unspectacular.
What made the evening unforgettable were the starters. Following a mesmerising amuse bouche of anago, we were treated to an amazing kegani starter. The kegani (together with a very generous portion of black caviar, plus some salmon roe) with some kani miso was embedded in a rich cream and gelee mixture which, incredibly, involved both fennel and dill where both of these (rather unique and dominant) flavours harmonised perfectly and didn't detract from the crab flavour at all, in fact enhanced it. The kani miso, which can be quite strong, also did not dominate. An incredible dish.
What followed was the highlight of the night, possibly the year: literally the best foie gras dish I have ever eaten (not necessarily the best quality foie gras, though it was very good, but certainly the best overall foie gras dish). Uncle Yabai agreed. I initially said it was in my top three foie gras dishes because I am always very careful with those kinds of superlatives (having eaten a massive amount of foie gras over the years, surely there must be something that was better, I thought). On reflection, I don't think there was. This was a perfect foie gras presse with layers of figs and foie gras, truffle shavings, a cherry and port sauce (with a few cherries at the side), and a hint of cinnamon and black pepper which harmonised beyond perfectly with the rest of the dish. I hadn't expected anything other than a solid French meal (having heard good things about the place), and the foie gras dish totally blew me away. With it, we drank a glass of ratafia de champagne, a perfect accompaniment, much better than a delicious, but slightly too sweet and dominant Sauternes.
We waxed lyrical about the foie gras for another half hour so I decided to bring my wife to the same place the following week. My wife is a foie gras fanatic, much more so than me. She had exactly the same reaction when we went there on Saturday. The best foie gras dish she had ever had. She was equally ecstatic about the kegani dish, but felt the main fish and meat courses were very nice, but not that memorable. Still, those dishes were certainly not sub-par for a restaurant of this type, it's just that the starters were so much better than we would have expected. Will be back just for those.
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