Sant Pau, Tokyo (**)

The last of my fine dining meals in Tokyo brought me to Sant Pau, a second branch of the original Spanish restaurant with the same name, helmed by Carme Ruscalleda. Closest to Nihonbashi station, the restaurant has a sleek exterior(and a difficult to find entrance), and a grand interior, probably the nicest dining room out of all the restaurants I went to in Tokyo.

Champagne made specially for Carme Ruscalleda to start off the meal. Beautiful plates

Shiso and chicken consommé
A combination that I would not have thought of myself- when I think of shiso I tend to associate it with seafood, but the combination worked. The soup was very clean tasting, no eggy aftertaste that can be imparted from the egg used in clarifying consommé, chicken flavor was strong, shiso was aromatic. Soup was perfectly seasoned. Good

Amuse platter

Faux egg: milk jelly covering a carrot puree, celeriac, tomato, red pepper
I don’t know how this was made, but this was an exact replica of a soft poached egg, the texture was exactly like a soft poached egg, and strangely enough, the taste was exactly like one too, you could eat this without actually knowing it wasn’t an egg. It’s like giant mindfuck on a plate. The red pepper did not have the same texture as chorizo, but it did have a good amount of spice and heat. Good

Martini made of pesto and courgette
I think this is a spherified ball of pesto, a little too pungent for me even when washed down with the courgette(zucchini) liquid. Okay

Faux dressed radish made of macadamia nut, marsh, raspberry.
Beautifully made, very realistic. Crunch from the macadamia added another depth of realism to match the crunch you get when you bite into a fresh radish. The tartness of the raspberry gelee made it surprisingly refreshing. Okay-Good

Croquette made of rice and vegetables
Hearty, good flavors, well seasoned. Okay

Akaza ebi, parsley sauce, parsley sauce, snow peas, ‘apiose’ vegetables, jelly of shrimp juice
We spent a good 5 minutes trying to figure out an english translation for ‘apiose’ before giving up. It tasted like a milder tasting version of sweet potato, but it had a better texture. The lobster was perfectly seasoned, but nothing on the plate really served to elevate it’s flavor or challenge it; I think the parsley sauce could’ve been stronger/more pungent, the ebi certainly had enough flavor to stand up to it. Okay-good

Scorpion fish, green papaya, tomato basil sauce
I loved the inclusion of green papaya, it brought a freshness and crunch to the dish that was quite unexpected. The texture of the fish was bad, overcooked and somewhat dry, the saving grace was the incredible tomato basil sauce, it was smooth, very intense flavor, and worked well with the papaya, saving an otherwise bad dish. Okay

Iberian pork shoulder, onion sauce, tempura ‘sale/saro’
The pork was perfectly cooked for me, but might have been a little under for some people. Large grains of salt sprinkled on the pork released bursts of flavor as you chewed through the shoulder, and the robust flavor of the pork just kept releasing as you chewed without signs of wearing thin, the tempura sale/saro? was a perfect contrast to the meatiness of the pork, while the flavor of the herb was strong enough to hold up to the pork. Definitely one of the better pork dishes I’ve had, really showcased the quality and flavor or Iberico pork. V good

Cleanser: Pineapple sorbet, raspberry juice
Good balance of sourness and sweetness, very necessary as the flavor of the pork was still lingering on the tongue. Okay

Strawberry, blood orange, nori
Blood orange yoghurt and strawberry yoghurt under the jelly. There was a sponge layer, but i felt that a biscuit base would have been better for more textural contrast. The addition of nori was what made the dish for me, although it didnt seem like there was much on the plate, the flavor was very glaring in the dish. It sort of made u stop and think about the flavors, I can’t say that the flavors work very well together, but this is the sort of dish that reminds me of my meal at el bulli, you really have to stop and think about what the food you’re eating is doing and how the flavors all comes together, 2 out of 3 at the table liked the inclusion of nori in the dessert. Good

Petits: Too lazy to list them all

These days, its hard to think of high end Spanish cuisine without drawing an immediate comparison to molecular gastronomy(or molecular/modern cuisine, whatever you want to call it), Sant Pau offers glimpses of that without actually falling into that stereotype. The amuse bouches were incredibly playful and thought provoking; although the petits were not as playful, they were also incredibly fun to eat. The core of the meal showcased more traditional cooking, with glimpses of inventiveness(pairing of nori and strawberry/orange). Although the execution wasn’t as solid as the concept of some dishes,  all in all, it was an enjoyable,  well balanced meal that offered quite a lot. That isn’t to say that there isn’t strong competition in Tokyo- there is such a wide array of choices for western cuisine with Japanese influence, while it is easy to overlook Sant Pau among the hype surrounding restaurants like Quintessence and Les Creations, it is certainly able to hold its own

3 thoughts on “Sant Pau, Tokyo (**)

  1. Outstanding post as usual; I admire your detailed critiques.

    How do you know it wasn’t in fact a soft poached egg, and the mindfuck was telling you it was all those other ingredients? 😉

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