A little background: “Florilège” means a collection of beautiful poems like flowers. Florilege reopened in a new location and they opened with a desire to make customers happy through the experience of their meals. Chef Hiroyasu Kawate hopes that his food will leave his guests with some new insight. There are 11 thoughts into each dish. Chef Kawate and his team delivers meals to each customer, so that the customer knows the background of the ingredients, seasonal aspects of the meal, and Japanese food culture. Chef Kawate brings out the best in the ingredients from the Mother Nature or various producers. The meals are made with a variety of sophisticated techniques and presented in beautiful Japanese plates and bowls.
My visit: During my visit to Florilege in October 2015, Chef Kawate has not won his Michelin star yet nor the One to Watch Award from Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. However, Florilege is consistently on Tablelog’s (Japan’s version of Openrice) top 10 French restaurants in Tokyo and Chef Kawate’s cutting edge modern French cooking style with the use of Japanese ingredients really caught my attention. I called a month and a half in advance and scored seats for lunch.
When we arrived, a waitstaff escorted us to our seats . We sat at a wide counter that is built around an open kitchen with 14 other guests.
Our meal kicked off with the Japanese sweet potatoes hidden under piles of roasted tea leaves. We loved the smokiness and fragrance from the tea. The sweet potato was naturally sweet and the sweet potato puree filling was creamy and mellow. We were off to a fantastic start.
Next came their signature dish – beef carpaccio served with beetroot puree, smoked potato puree, and red apple sorbet. It was mind-blowing! The beef was from a 30 years old Miyazaki cow – it was tender, buttery and full of meat flavor. The apple sorbet was the perfect condiment to cut through the richness of the dish.
The oyster was another dish that blew us away. The deep fried oyster was cooked to perfection. Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. The nori added a crunch to the dish and the cold lemon meringue gave it a touch of acidity. The hot oyster soup on the side that we were recommended to drink halfway into our dish helped enhance the flavors even further. The dish was very well balanced and creative. We really enjoyed the way Chef Kawate played with temperature and textures.
For our main course, we were served a raw Kurobuta suckling pig from Chiba. The pork was excellent, tender and juicy and the roasted peppers added an intense sweetness to the pepper jus. This dish was good but definitely not as strong as the ones served earlier.
For our first dessert, we were served a brown sugar waffle filled with fig. The flavor of the waffle was good but we found the filling a little too grainy.
Our final dessert was a lemon cream, basil and parsley oil, Tosa umami shio meringue. The lemon cream was very refreshing but a little too sour and the meringue left a salty aftertaste. I see what Chef Kawate was trying to do here; the combination of flavors were very interesting but it didn’t really work for us.
Our lunch ended with these golden berries coated with apricot cream that tasted like candy.
Verdict: I went into Florilege with high expectations and left with higher accolades. Even though the desserts did not stand out as much the savory dishes, there is no doubt that Chef Kawate has all the tools of success. Him and his team of chefs were fascinating to watch. They worked in sync, paid attention to every detail and had a high level of communication. The sommelier was always on top with all the drinks. We ordered the juice pairing and it really complimented our meal. I highly recommend Florilege, it’ll be a meal you’ll never forget!
Happy eating 🙂
Japan, Tokyo, Shibuya 神宮前２ー５ー４ SEIZAN外苑B１