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Restaurants & Bars

2019 Tokyo Food Crawl - Day 2 Dinner: "DEN" - Michelin 2* Modern Kaiseki

Charles Yu | Mar 6, 201906:44 PM     8

Nowadays, the number of ‘ The Best ‘ lists, floating around in the culinary social media space, is quite staggering! Most of them name and rank establishments that are often quite controversial. Whilst mostly treated by serious foodies with a grain of salt, however, the number of followers using a list like ‘ Sam Pellegrino World’s 50 best Restaurant ‘ to augment, plan and select top restaurants for their eating adventure and collection of stars are still quite substantial. Participation by some of these blind-followers, tacked on additional layers of obstacles and challenges for those serious and avid gourmands, seeking to secure already tough-to-get top tables.

My Day 2 dinner will be at such a ‘hard-to-get-in ‘ establishment! Our venue, the Michelin 2* ‘DEN’ is ranked #17 on the Sam Pellegrino’s 2018 best list. As Tokyo top rated restaurant on the list and ahead of its compatriots like Narisawa and Ryugin, it’s ranking is even higher than a lot of gastronomic temples worldwide like Paris’ Alain Ducasse and Ledoyen, Copenhagen’s Germanium, NYC’s Le Bernadin, Chicago’s Alinea, San Sebastian Arzak….to name a few.
Once again, a big thank you to my local foodie friend in securing this rare reservation for our group.

Operated by a highly creative young chef with a fine sense of humor, the restaurant offers a multi-course Omakase ‘Modern Kaiseki’ menu. Dishes crafted by him and his competent ‘ international ‘ kitchen team not only tasted good but also contained elements of playfulness.

Case in point, a starting amuse bouche in the form of a traditional Japanese dessert - Monoka ( bean jam filled mochi ). However, to our surprise, the mochi wafer actually took on a savory twist with filling of Foie Gras, Japanese pickles and Persimmons! Tasty and really fun to eat.

Another tasty and amusing offering was the chef’s famous ‘DFC’ – DEN Fried Chicken. A piping hot, super crispy fried chicken wing stuffed with crab paste housed in a ‘red and white’, Colonel Sander’s KFC lookalike box! Cute and brilliant! The ultimate finger food!

Whilst my home town Toronto has its own Susur Lee and his famous Singapore Slaw. DEN’s version of a salad, appropriately named ‘ Garden’, was a few notches more sophisticated and refined. Containing 20 different vegetables ( Daikon, beets, yams, Burdock and lotus roots, mushrooms, asparagus, leafy and non-leafy greens….), every component was individually prepared, cooked and assembled. ( Fried, grilled, blanched, boiled, raw……). The labor intensiveness of this dish is absolutely mind-boggling! Bravo to team work and the kitchen team!

Service was professional, helpful and lovely. Every one of our serving staff spoke English! Our main lady server, with a Sake sommelier certificate, was most pleasant and knowledgeable in guiding us through our Sake tasting selection. Some real fine, rare jewels were brought out for our enjoyment!

This is one delicious, enjoyable and FUN chowdown!......and only my second day in town! Already, I hated the idea of having to go home in a week’s time!

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