Tokyo, Uncategorized

Tapas Molecular Bar, Tokyo (*)

If  you are looking for a true molecular gastronomy experience in Tokyo, chances are, you will end up reading a blog post about Tapas Molecular Bar. While Tokyo has no shortage of modern takes on numerous kinds of cuisine, TMB is probably the only restaurant where you will get a true Molecular Gastronomy experience. Located on the 38th floor of mandarin oriental Tokyo, the restaurant has an amazing view of the Tokyo skyline, be sure to show up early for your reservation and have a seat at the lounge. They serve two sittings during dinner an I would recommend getting a reservation during a timeslot with no other guests, you’ll get a much more personal, and overall better experience.

View from the top


Cherry bonbon- Sake, cherry liquor

It was sake jelly surrounded with a cherry liquor, I think it was spherified. Very aromatic and the sake went well with the Sakura. Good


Onion puff with bacon cream, beef puff with horseradish sour cream

The texture of the puff was quite interesting, it was completely dry and crumbled in the mouth, but it lacked that explosive flavor which would’ve really made the dish really pop. Okay


Potato stone

This was very similar in concept to the potato appetizer served in Mugaritz. I think this was actually a better replica than the Mugaritz version. Unfortunately, both this, and the Mugaritz one, tasted terrible. The Mugaritz shell was very crisp and powdery, this version had a chewy exterior, both were equally unpleasant for different reasons. Main difference is that the Mugaritz version was served with aioli, which made it much more palatable. Bad


Exquixada: deconstructed Spanish salad

A deconstructed salad, plated in a test tube, meant to be sucked in one mouthful. Very strong taste of tomato gelee and bacalao, I have no reference to the original salad, but this tasted surprisingly good to me, had nuances of a ceviche, acidity and sweetness of the tomato balanced out the salty bacalao nicely. Good


Mountain, cheese, butterfly

This was a orgy of many different flavors and components, what impressed me the most was the taste of the cheese, on top of wheat bread with walnut raisin, the combination of that bite was delicious. The butterflies made of beet and apple puree were visually stunning(look at the details), but didn’t do much taste wise. The foam was absolutely useless, completely tasteless. The salad didn’t work for me either. Okay


Smoked semi boiled egg with Spanish ham

An appearance for the smoking gun, which is to be found in every molecular gastrogeeks toolkit. This seemed to be a dish right up my alley, I love a soft poached egg, and jamon is one of my top ingredients of all time. Unfortunately, the dish seem to be lacking a balance of flavors, the egg was severely under seasoned and tasted bland when eaten alone, then it tasted completely overpowered when eaten with the Spanish ham. Bad


Spring landscape 1: fried spring vegetables fried in an eggless batter

This was one of the better dishes of the night. The batter was amazing, it had a  ethereally thin crisp shell that gave way to perfectly cooked vegetables, didn’t feel heavy or soaked in oil at all. The soil was made of fried onion and spring onion, it gave the dish a sweet caramelized flavor. Good


Drunken shrimp

An homage to Chinese drunken shrimp, done in a Japanese style- cooked in sake, kombu and yuzu, served with a seaweed and nut brittle. The shrimp was perfectly cooked, sake was a little strong but the seasoning and umami from the kombu helped to tone down it’s harshness. The brittle had very little flavor but the taste you got from sucking on the prawn head was enough for me to look past this. Very good



Sole and watercress

Fried lotus root chips added a nice crunch to the dish, and watercress sauce was the best component on the plate. The sole was nicely cooked but flavors didn’t stand out at all. Actually, nothing in the dish really stood out, and a reappearance of that foam sums the dish up for me. Bad


Quail, morel, cacao

This was a really confusing dish for me, the components were: fried noodle basket, baby artichoke, carrot puree, quail and quail jus with cacao, vanilla potato espuma with vanilla oil. Trust me, this is as confusing for you to read as it was for me to eat. The fact that I was told this should taste like apple pie when all the components were eaten together did not help at all. It was tough enough to eat all the components together for a deconstructed dish, and it certainly didn’t taste like apple pie to me. The vanilla potato espuma just did not belong on the plate, very very strange. Bad


Xiaolongbao

A molecular take on xiao long bao, this was actually one of the most intelligent dishes I’ve had in recent times. Xiaolongbao is basically jellied stock covered with ‘pastry’, then steamed, so that the stock melts down into liquid state for that burst in your mouth feel. This dish takes the same concept, except using minced lamb to cover the jellied stock, it is held together using transglutaminase, or meat glue. Unfortunately, I think the dish failed in it’s execution, there was not enough stock and that ‘burst in the mouth’ texture was  lost in the meaty texture of the lamb. If you look past that, it is actually quite an interesting and fun way to serve meat + sauce in a neat package. Okay-good



Warm sizzling beef

A4 grade wagyu beef that’s cooked sous vide(I think), the sizzling portion of the beef comes from it being put into a whipping cream canister, and charged with carbon dioxide. This adds absolutely nothing to it’s flavor, but it carbonates the surface of the beef, so that when the beef is finished with sauce, the sauce ‘sizzles’  on the surface and bubbles slightly. It’s an whimsical and playful effect. The beef itself was very nicely cooked, very tender. Don’t expect to get as many pieces as I did though. Good

Can’t see much happening? Thats because not much is


Osuimono

A piece of fish is placed info clam stock and spherified(so that the fish is encapsulated by the stock), and it is later injected with a herbed oil, the process itself is quite cool for those who have never seen spherification before, unfortunately, it tastes terrible. Osuimono should be a light clam broth, but this had the ‘gummiest’ texture of all the spherified liquids I’ve had, thus making it taste really heavy, moreover, it just didn’t taste good, the clam broth just tasted too strong. Worst dish of the night. Very bad


Liquid nitrogen passionfruit puff

A passionfruit puff, similar to the puff used in the second dish, placed in liquid nitrogen. It was fun, I was sharing puffs with all the chefs, getting high on nitrogen, actually almost burnt my tongue as well. It’s tough to taste much when something is so cold, but the choice of passionfruit was a solid one, this actually had more taste than the puffs in the second dish, I didn’t get a shot of the puff itself because I do not particularly enjoy getting my fingers burnt by liquid nitrogen. Okay


Spring landscape 2: burdock root chocolate gateau, ginger ice cream

Interesting pairing of flavors, but the texture of the gateau was not great, kind of hard for the dish to come back from that. Okay


Petits:

Washi- dried edible flower covered cotton candy. Okay
Piña colada marshmallow, very strong flavors. Good
Strawberry candy with the scent of milk. This was supposed to taste like a strawberry latte. Okay
Freeze dried white chocolate banana, nice crisp texture. Good
Sakura cake- moist, very aromatic. Good


Fruits

A tasting platter for miracle berry. The basic premise is you try one piece of each fruit, then you suck on the miracle berry, the berry coats your tongue with a protein that alters your perception of taste. It makes sour foods taste sweet, among other things. You can still sense acidity from certain fruits(like the lemon especially) biting your tongue, but it tastes sweet. The strawberry tasted out of this world. It’s a little hard to describe without actually trying it. Very interesting but not really a dish per se.

I really thought I would like tapas molecular bar, I am a self confessed fan of molecular gastronomy, I love me a modern take on food, but the overall meal at tapas molecular bar felt a lot like a 101 class to molecular gastronomy, all the key techniques are there- spherification, liquid nitrogen, dehydration, foams, but none of them are particularly good examples of the techniques being used in an intelligent manner- to elevate a dish and make it more delicious, in fact,  a lot of the techniques used seemed to compromise the overall taste of the dish. And it’s a pity, it really is, I had a nice time meeting two of the most friendly chefs during my trip to Tokyo here, and the restaurant is set in in an amazing location, but the food put out just didn’t quite match up. I’d probably only recommend it as a crash course for anyone who hasn’t had any interaction with molecular gastronomy, and if you do end up going, make sure you visit the toilets on the same floor.

Your chance to pee on the world

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