China Blue

Conrad Hotel 28F,, 1-9-1 Higashi-Shinbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan

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China Blue is on the 28th Floor of the smart Conrad Hotel (next to Gordon Ramsay’s Tokyo venture).The room is spectacular, with huge picture windows overlooking the river, a toweringly high ceiling with pretty blue Chinese lanterns hanging down from it, and smart fittings. On one wall is an impressive looking wine cellar, stretching right up to the ceiling.  This is a really romantic setting. 

A little amuse bouche of a fried prawn with a few shredded vegetables was decent, but no more than that (12/20). I began with a pleasant hot and soup, which had reasonably vivid spicing but could have done with rather more depth of flavour (12/20). 

At this point the meal fell strangely and utterly apart on the service front. This was a quiet evening, with just a few tables occupied, and plenty of staff in smart dinner jackets to look after us. Yet once the starter arrived the waiters began behaving like the cast in a Buster Keaton film. First a drink order was forgotten, and then we waited for our main courses, waited some more, asked about progress and waited again. Eventually one dish appeared: pleasantly cooked prawns with XO sauce (13/20). Of the rice and other dishes there was no sign, so we inquired further.

After a lengthy interval some rice appeared, along with a slightly overcooked duck with hot chilli sauce, and a plate of noodles (12/20). Some shredded fried vegetables eventually put in an appearance as well. Our finished starter plates were just left on the table as new dishes appeared, and were not cleared up at any stage of the proceedings. 

There was no real apology for any of this shambles, and no gesture e.g. “how about a dessert on us” that the most basic TGI Fridays would have managed. The only thing that arrived was the bill of JPY 23,110 for three i.e. about £40 a head for a pretty light meal with just jasmine tea and a few beers (I was amazed they managed to remember to deliver this, given what had transpired).

If you were a visiting chef from, say, Hakkasan in London, I don’t think you would be best pleased about this bunch of comedians getting a Michelin star (editor's note, it was finally demoted in the 2014 guide). Even if I forget the service antics (and believe me, I hope one day I will) the cooking was round 12/20 level. I could throw a stick in Chinatown and hit a place serving higher grade food. This is a real shame, since the setting is so beautiful. It is as if they spent all the money on the great décor, ran out suddenly and decided to dress up a bunch of homeless people they found wandering around in the nearby park as waiters.

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  • nicolas

    I went there a few times. Foodwise I'd say it is good as in lower en of one star, but still, nothing utterly shocking here. Service is well, not so good, again lower end of one star maybe. What tipped the notation over is clearly their fantastic view. Overall it makes a good mix, and that is also what a michelin star is. Just don't go with 2 stars food expectations.