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Equateur

3-6-34 2F Moto Azabu, Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan

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This restaurant opened in 2010 and relocated from South Azabu to Azabu, reopening December 2012. The chef is Yoshiyuki Ono, who was born in Saitama and was a footballer until high school, then trained as a chef in Paris. Equateur serves French food and at the time of writing was the top-rated restaurant in Tokyo on the kanji restaurant site Tabelog (a sort of constantly updated version of the unrelated  Zagat). It is located in a quiet residential area five minutes walk from Roppongi hills. It is perhaps 100 metres down the slope from the Moto Azabu fire station, one flight of steps up from ground level. If you decide to visit then be careful to use the above address, as several websites still list its old location. 

There is a small dining room seating six, and an additional six counter seats around the bar. The meal began with a cold soup of broad beans with orange. This certainly had plenty of broad bean flavour, though for me orange is not an obvious pairing; perhaps lemon might have worked better (14/20). 

Salmon, bonito and abalone were attractively presented, with tomatoes and a broccoli-like Japanese vegetable. The tomatoes had very good flavour, and the abalone was very tender, the bonito excellent (16/20). This was followed by wild boar with lobster and a dill sauce. The lobster had superb flavour and was very tender, the boar an unusual pairing, though pleasant in itself. This was served with a delicate cream sauce with onions, chives and lime zest (17/20). 

Next was carefully cooked tilefish, topped with its crispy skin, with an excellent lobster sauce and a bed of spinach (17/20). A palate cleanser of strawberries and rose was offered prior to the main course. At this point our paths differed, with my wife having scallops with a balsamic vinegar sauce. The scallops were top class, lightly cooked and the sauce was a good pairing for their natural sweetness (17/20). I went a more equine route, with horse (loin rather than saddle) served with and wine and sherry sauce, along with little carrots, sweet corn and asparagus. Some people may bridle at eating horse, but this was very good. It can be very gamey and stringy, but here was tender and fully flavoured but not too strong in taste (16/20).

Dessert was kiwi fruit ice cream with a crumb of lemon tart. I am not convinced about the inherent value of kiwi fruit, but the ice cream had good flavour and the crumb was excellent, served with very good strawberries as garnish (15/20). To finish there was good coffee. Service from our waitress was good, and she spoke some English, which made things easier. The bill, including a glass of champagne, came to ¥10,500 (£69) per person, which seemed to me very fair given the elaborate food being served. Presentation of the dishes was excellent, and as usual in Japan the ingredient quality was high.

 

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