Japan- Joël Robuchon Tokyo- ✪✪✪

I'm generally a huge fan of Robuchon's work globally; I had a great time at his Hong Kong and Macau locations, and I respect that the man has figured out how to caricature 3-star French cuisine across the world and still actually earn 3-star status in many of those cities. 

Set in what can only be described as a faux-chateau in the middle of Tokyo, Robuchon's eponymous restaurant goes beyond the bright colors and shiny surfaces of his Atelier sub-brand and simply explodes into a full-bore Disney version of French luxury ready for export. You'll see what I mean in the photos, but I have to say that this restaurant takes luxury into a weirdly overdone dimension that I hadn't experienced before.

If you come for lunch, consider a longer menu than I did, because the (many) dessert courses are all roughly the same length no matter what you get. So, having only a few actual lunch courses makes it feel like the dessert is more than 50% of the meal. Which, given the immense shitload of butter and bread I also consumed (my fault, I'll accept) the meal had a decidedly heart attack-y feel to it.

Another sidenote on service- it was actually terrible. Besides being way, way stick-up-one's-ass formal, it was absent for long periods of time (I clocked 42 minutes between two courses), and at one point straight-up rude. 

 Joël Robuchon Exterior

Joël Robuchon Exterior

TOKYO, JAPAN

SERVICE: 3.5/10

FOOD: 8.5/10

PRICE PAID: $235 PP (LIST PRICE- PRE-CHALLENGE)

VALUE/MONEY: 6.0/10

FINAL SCORE: 6.0/10

 Joël Robuchon Dining Room

Joël Robuchon Dining Room

A super formal interior space; it felt like a nice place to go if you're interested in impressing someone, but not a very relaxed area. Beautiful, but cold. 

 Joël Robuchon Place Setting

Joël Robuchon Place Setting

The place settings had the look of a delicately-assembled gift. I can only imagine that there is an hours-long course taught on how, precisely, to fold Robuchon's napkins. That work is evident. 

 Bread Service

Bread Service

 Awesome butter

Awesome butter

Very similar to Robuchon's place in Macau, Tokyo does an awesome hot-fork-on-melted-butter routine that I find fascinating. 

 First Bites: Tomato + Quinoa, 8/10

First Bites: Tomato + Quinoa, 8/10

First out, an extremely pleasant and aggressively-plated amuse-bouche. Quinoa with tomato served on a bed of... quinoa. The edible parts were warm and crunchy, almost fruity, and beyond the overdone showmanship I quite liked it. 8/10.

 Yet More Bread

Yet More Bread

At no point in the meal did I ever look around and say to myself, "son of a bitch, I wish I had more bread," because I was foisted no less than approximately five full loaves during the course of my meal. An almost unimaginable array of bread shapes and styles. 

 Course 1: Crab + Lobster + Caviar, 10/10

Course 1: Crab + Lobster + Caviar, 10/10

Holy. Mother. Of. God. Look at this unbelievably intense opening dish. Caviar, crab meat, and lobster, all beautifully hand-dolloped in a precise geometric pattern. I could not stop looking at this dish and almost felt badly eating it. The flavors were intense and the ingredients were exceptionally fresh, making this a total all-star dish. 10/10.

 Even More Bread

Even More Bread

Oh look, here comes more bread. 

Joel Robuchon Tokyo (16 of 28).jpg

Next up, a soup with Botan shrimp (known for their sweetness) with lemongrass, mushroom, and a sweet warm broth. 

 Course 2: Shrimp + Mushroom + Lemongrass Soup, 9/10

Course 2: Shrimp + Mushroom + Lemongrass Soup, 9/10

You might safely call this one of the world's best Tom khar Gai soup. 9/10, I was impressed.

 Course 3: Wagyu Beef Pierogi, 8/10

Course 3: Wagyu Beef Pierogi, 8/10

Next up in my short lunch menu, the main dish- Wagyu beef pierogi with duck liver, black truffle, celeriac, and foam. I have to say that the protein part is perfectly cooked. The pierogi is a touch rich but I can live with that; the Pierogi pasta itself is too thin and not cooked perfectly- its a little al dente. There, I said it. 8/10.

 Course 4: Cheese, 8/10

Course 4: Cheese, 8/10

A cheese cart that rivals some of the best in the world, I went with some classic soft cheeses including my absolute favorite, Epoisse (the good stuff isn't available inside the USA). Some dried fruit and, unbelievably, even more bread accompanied. 8/10.

 Course 5: Dessert Course 1, 9/10

Course 5: Dessert Course 1, 9/10

In what I estimated was, most surely, the final salvo of this meal, an enormous glass-surfaced dessert cart was ceremoniously trucked up to our table (after the bread cart and the cheese cart, I was already getting a cart-intense feeling from this place). I selected what, I must say, is a damn-fine looking collection of ice cream, chocolate cake, and fruit. 9/10.

 Espresso, 9/10

Espresso, 9/10

Ah, espresso. A pleasant wrap-up to any decent European-style meal, and I must admit that after a few weeks of nothing but green tea I was really jonesing for some powerful caffeine. 9/10.

 Course 6: Dessert Cart 2, 8/10

Course 6: Dessert Cart 2, 8/10

Wait, what the hell? Yet a fourth cart, completely separate and with entirely different contents than any of the many carts that preceded it. I wasn't going to complain, but this was starting to feel silly. 

The theme here, I suppose, was that these desserts were slightly smaller and look as though they came from a candy store. 8/10.