Gordon Ramsay may best be known for his hot headed television series Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares that has aired in America and Britain but before all of his television fame he cut his teeth at Aubergine gaining 2 Michelin stars and then turned heads by opening up his first restaurant in Chelsea, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, winning accolades from the culinary world and receiving three Michelin stars in 2001. Soon after Ramsay’s restaurant empire expanded to every corner of the world including Doha, Montreal, New York City, Versailles and most recently Las Vegas to name a few places.
With Tokyo boasting the most Michelin stars of any city in the world it would make sense that in 2008 Ramsay would open up his first restaurant in Asia, Cerise located in the Conrad Hotel of Tokyo. Ramsey hand picked Shinya Maeda a native of Japan and previously head chef of Aquavit in New York City to run Cerise. As current chef de
cuisine Maeda has consistently year after year been awarded one Michelin star for taking classical French and European cuisine and fusing it with modern Japanese technique achieving a delightful balance of 2 very different cultures. These elements can be seen throughout the six course tasting menu offered at Cerise
For instance the Sole à La Arnold Bennet with chanterelle and speckles of tender pieces of abalone and sea urchin adds excitement to what is normally an old recipe from Britain that uses poached fish and lots of butter. The creaminess of the sea urchins compliments the sole giving it a rich deep flavor.
Beyond taste Maeda has certain playfulness to his dishes. The pressed foie gras and confit de canard with dashes of rhubarb and strawberries visual appearance is of small layered French confections. Being the first dish of the evening my impression was that the menu was starting with dessert and working backwards. The execution was a very convincing Trompe-l’œil. The layers of foei gras and cured duck exploded with flavors.
With the world’s largest fish market Tsukiji, mere blocks away from Cerise Maeda uses this resource to his advantage in several of his dishes. This can be found in the squid ink tortellinis of crab and scallop served in celeriac root champagne foam. You can still taste the ocean with every bite. Using squid ink for the tortellini Maeda shows separation of color between the tortellini and sea of celeriac foam.
The true star of the menu and a staple of Cerise is the roasted and braised red Wagyu beef with bone marrow in a truffle consommé. Without a doubt this is the most flavorful and distinguished piece of tender beef I’ve ever had the pleasure of being served. Chef Maeda spent several years sourcing the finest Wagyu cattle in Japan to ensure thatthis is an unforgettable dish. Known for its marbling characteristics Wagyu is lower in saturated fats and higher in rich Omega 3 acids.
There’s a reason that these hand fed and massaged cows command so much attention and a high resale price. Chances are if you’ve been served Wagyu or Kobe beef outside of Japan you haven’t had the real thing. The Wagyu by itself is the finest piece of beef but having a broth with a fist size enormous truffle in it drizzled over the Wagyu adds even more to what is a cathartic experience.
After finishing the Wagyu it was hard to focus on the desert menu however the hazelnut chocolate gianduja soufflé proved to be light and airy and the banana and lime ice cream was a perfect pairing. Finishing the evening with a glass of flowery and fruity 2008 Kerner served with a cylinder of mango lemon thyme cream and candied pineapples made for an exceptionally perfect dining experience.
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