A woman cannot live by Japanese food alone, so I decided to try Eneko restaurant in the Azabu-Juban area of Roppongi Tokyo. It was a gastronomic Basque restaurant under 3-star Michelin chef Eneko Axta of the famed restaurant Azermundi in Spain. Here takes a slightly more informal approach to dining than the aforementioned restaurant, but it still had distinctive flavors and techniques integrated into his cuisine. The chef de cuisine is Hitoshi Isojima, who underwent intensive training at Azermundi.
The restaurant is in a spacious two-story building. The entrance has a white facade filled with greenery. On arrival, we were escorted into a front bar where we enjoyed a welcome cocktail that was both unique and delicious. We then moved to a different room with three elaborately decorated seafood stations. We had to locate where the actual food was amongst the flora and fauna. They called it the “mar ” part of the menu, where we enjoyed excellent sea urchin, salmon roe and nori, and a talo of shrimp. You could see how local Japanese ingredients were incorporated into the meal. Then we were escorted upstairs to a glass biosphere where we had the “picnic” course. We opened a picnic basket to discover four small bites. The next course led us into another dining room where the course was called “cocina”, and was a stand-up station where we enjoyed the truffle course, which was a truffle meringue, an apple truffle, and the chef’s signature truffle egg. Finally, we were seated at a table overlooking the atrium. The “loreak” course consisted of a stunning leaf, rose and nectar, and dew of herbs, flowers, and txakoli. The piêce de résistance, the “menu” course, delivered four remarkable dishes: a zucchini tartlet, a horse mackerel marinated with sea granita, a tilefish Bilbao style, and a tender wagyu with a truffle sauce.
Dessert was a grand finale with three exquisite offerings. A pineapple and passion kakigori, a pistachio dessert, and a selection of petits four. Throughout the meal, the chefs demonstrated a sublime refinement and inventiveness that matched the visual spectacle. The food tasted as gorgeous as it looked, and it was an experience that certainly deserved Michelin’s recognition. We were informed that Japanese cuisine usually takes precedence over others in local regard.
Yes, the dining experience was theatrical and had its gimmicky moments, but Eneko was an evening of pure enjoyment and entertainment. It provided a refreshing departure from the traditional Japanese fare we had been indulging in on our trip.