Heinz Beck Tokyo

Nippon Life Insurance Marunouchi Garden Tower 1F M, 1 Chome-1-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda, Tokyo, 100-0005, Japan

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This restaurant opened in November 2014 and is the Japanese outpost of Heinz Beck, chef/owner of thee star Michelin Pergola in Rome. This building is in an office complex next to the Palace Hotel, and directly overlooks the moat of The Imperial Palace. On the ground floor is a casual bistro, with the gastronomic restaurant up a flight of stairs. If you happen to dine here on a Sunday or public holiday then you need to access the restaurant via the terrace next to the moat, as the office building entrance will be closed. The dining room seats up to forty guests, with generously spaced tables, the tables at one end of the room looking directly out over the palace moat.

As well as six and nine course (¥15,000 = £81) tasting menus there was an à la carte selection. The head chef is Antonio Strammiello, who worked for fifteen years at Pergola. The wine list has around a thousand different labels. For example there was Penfolds Koonunga Hills Chardonnay 2013 at ¥6.000 for a bottle that retails at around ¥1,353, the lovely Vintage Tunina 2011 at ¥20,000 for a bottle with a shop price of ¥7,349, and Louis Jadot Charmes Mersault  at ¥30,500 for a bottle with a current market price of ¥8,895.

Grissini with fennel seeds was particularly delicate, as was very thin strega flatbread (17/20). An array of nibbles comprised a mushroom broth with thyme mousse. Next to it was a pretty display of assorted carrots: white carrot sauce, yellow carrot and pickled purple carrot with pumpkin couscous and a solitary mushroom. Alongside this was an apple salad, a cylinder of apple encasing a mostly carrot salad with amaretto jelly. This was pretty and involved a lot of work, though for me the carrots could have had greater flavour (15/20). 

The signature dish of Heinz Beck is the fagotelli (¥3,000), essentially ravioli with a liquid centre of carbonara sauce. As well as at the flagship restaurant, this dish was on the menu of the late lamented Apsleys, but this version was even better here and almost up there with the original in Rome. The pasta was remarkably soft and delicate, the sauce inside having real depth of flavour (easily 18/20).

Cod served with cod snow came with tomato sauce and butter beans. The fish was correctly cooked and the butter beans were tender, but for me the fish needed more seasoning and was rather bland, as cod can so often be (14/20). Much better was pigeon (¥5,800) from France, the breast stuffed with a layer of foie gras from Landes and coated with spinach, resting in a red wine sauce. This was superb, the pigeon cooked pink and having lovely flavour, the foie gras adding richness that was balanced by the spinach (18/20).

A little pre-dessert was a tropical fruit cocktail. Pina colada sauce came with pineapple cream and coconut ice cream. This had good intensity of fruit flavour and was very refreshing (17/20). A pretty white chocolate dessert (¥2,800) had a layer of tonka bean cream and an excellent passion fruit sorbet (16/20). Coffee soufflé (¥2,800) came with coffee sauce and coffee ice cream, the soufflé well executed but could have been even better with deeper coffee flavour (15/20).

The very professional service team was led by the charming Robert Tichit, a Frenchman who had lived in Japan for 26 years. If you share a modest bottle of wine then a typical bill for two would come to around £90 a head, which seems to me pretty reasonable given the amount of work going into the dishes here.

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